JOHN 3:1-17/ ROMANS 11:33-36/ISAIAH 6:1-7
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON
AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – AMEN.
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To all those at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear Madison, Margaret, and Ryan:


A Pastor was once asked what the most difficult part of his ministry was.  Without hesitation he answered that it was standing before the congregation in worship each week and saying – “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  The liturgy does not lead the pastor to say “We make our beginning – or let us begin - in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  The invocation is not telling ourselves what we our doing or reminding us of who the one true God is.  Rather the invocation calls directly on the Holy Trinity – it speaks His Name with trust that He comes into our midst as He has promised.  “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  As His name is invoked God’s people say “Amen,” that is, “yes – the one true God who put His name on us in Holy Baptism is present in this service – to bless us.”  “Amen.”

HOLY TRINITY – JUNE 15, 2014
JOHN 3:1-17/ ROMANS 11:33-36/ISAIAH 6:1-7
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER AND OF THE SON
AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – AMEN.
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


To all those at Luther Memorial Chapel and University Student Center who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, dear Madison, Margaret, and Ryan:


A Pastor was once asked what the most difficult part of his ministry was.  Without hesitation he answered that it was standing before the congregation in worship each week and saying – “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  The liturgy does not lead the pastor to say “We make our beginning – or let us begin - in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  The invocation is not telling ourselves what we our doing or reminding us of who the one true God is.  Rather the invocation calls directly on the Holy Trinity – it speaks His Name with trust that He comes into our midst as He has promised.  “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  As His name is invoked God’s people say “Amen,” that is, “yes – the one true God who put His name on us in Holy Baptism is present in this service – to bless us.”  “Amen.”


The Scriptures beautifully lead us to the Father as God and to the Holy Spirit as God and to the Son as God.  This bedrock truth for the existence and the work of the one true God is a heavenly mystery that cannot be judged by human wisdom!  We worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.  For the Father is one person, the Son is another and the Holy Spirit is another.  But the Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal.  Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?    Blinded by sin – the human heart continually tries to do just that – to counsel God – to merit payment from Him.


Consider Nicodemus’ approach to Jesus.  He was a Pharisee – considered the best in that culture - with respectability – leadership – broadmindedness. “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”  Nicodemus is willing to see good in this new teacher – even seeing Jesus as “come from God” in some sense. 


However, Jesus isn’t from God in some sense.  Jesus is God!  He ignored Nicodemus’ positive regard for him as a religious teacher.  He then set forth a requirement not open for debate.  “You must be born again!”  “Truly, truly I say to you unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”   Thereby Jesus took from serious, religious Nicodemus everything in which he felt secure. 


The esteemed teacher responded with a narrowly naturalistic view.  How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Dear Christians, what a miracle God gives as we are knit together in our mother’s womb.  Miracle upon miracle takes place that could not possibly be accidental.  If just one of those knitting together miracles was not in place it would mean the end of the human race.  The design is irreducibly complex.  There would be no imaginary – evolutionary second chance if it didn’t happen that way right from the start with the birth of Cain to Adam and Eve.  But Jesus here points to an even greater miracle than God’s creation of life in the womb. 


“Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  Fellow-redeemed, how difficult it is to say and to mean, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!”  It is impossible without the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit.  Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things?  Indeed He was!   The brightest of the bright - Nicodemus was devoid of understanding the most crucial truth.  God’s requirement for a new mind and a new heart appeared foolish to his considerable intellect.  The Holy Trinity’s requirement that he must be born from above was absent from his teaching.  He was blind to the true nature and work of God. 


So are you – so am I - apart from the gift of the Holy Spirit.  God has commanded you not to worship strange gods (idols) and He means it.  Idols so strange as a bigger pile of things – of money – which you can’t take with you!  Idols so strange as popular opinion – think of Noah and the church reduced to eight people!  Idols so strange as nature or earthly security - when earth is passing away!  Idols so strange as comfort and acceptance by the world – trying to tack on God where the world approves – yet Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.” (Matt. 5:11)  Idols so strange as yourself – your understanding – your limited wisdom.  That idol won’t hold for you are dying (in fact, apart from Christ, perishing – which includes the second death of separation from God)!


As He did with Nicodemus, Jesus desires to take from you everything in which you feel secure.  God is holy – unique – set apart from His creatures.  The holy LORD of hosts – of angel armies – is high and lifted up.  Sinful mankind cannot approach Him and live – and yet after death we will stand before Him in judgment!  The cry of Isaiah is the proper cry of each and every child of Adam – Woe is me!  For I am lost; for I am a man (or woman) of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.  When our conscience convicts us – when we understand that we can offer nothing to God – when we despair of our unclean lips and our unclean minds and our unclean souls – the Holy Trinity speaks another word to us – The Word made flesh!


Jesus continued with Nicodemus – If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?  No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.  You see – a new way had to be found for God and man to be reconciled!  The Son of God – one with the Father and the Holy Spirit – came down to give us Himself – the only gift that can give us peace with God - the only gift that can defeat death!  It is the right faith that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is at the same time God and man.  He is God, begotten from the substance of the Father before all ages; and He is man born from the substance of His mother in this age: perfect God and perfect man, composed of a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father with respect to His divinity, less than the father with respect to His humanity.  Although He is God and man, He is not two but one Christ…one by assumption of the humanity into God.


To Nicodemus – the Son of God speaks words that lead directly to the Father’s heart!  As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.  From His own lips comes word of His crucifixion!  The Holy LORD of hosts – high and lifted up would be lifted up on the cross in bloody sacrificial death!  Why?  For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”


The Holy Trinity is the champion of givers – not some taskmaster!  Madison, Margaret, Ryan you are right to confess Him before men.   He is a rich, overflowing fountain of grace and of all gifts!  Beloved – do you see the gift He gave you in Holy Baptism?  God put His Name on you – the most glorious reality!  The way the Bible uses God’s name is unique.  It includes His being and His blessing and His kingdom.  It is impossible to think of a greater blessing than to be given God’s one name - the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!  In that washing – in your water and Spirit baptism - God adopted you as His child!  Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!


The Father infinite, the Son infinite, the Holy Spirit infinite; The Father eternal, the Son eternal, the Holy Spirit eternal.  Yet on Calvary – the infinite, eternal Son – was judged in your stead!  Baptized into His death His finished judgment is now your judgment.  How unsearchable, that is, except through the intense love of the Father!     For God so loved the world, hat he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.    Concerning this text Dr. Luther said in should be written in golden letters upon the heart.  “Take hold of your nose” he said, “to see whether you are not a human being” – that is part of the world – for God so loved the world.  God’s love poured out in His Son is for all in the world – no one excluded. 


What astounding grace!  It makes the sad joyful and the dead alive!  It was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him and with all the authority in heaven and earth that is what the risen Christ gave you in your baptism - Madison, Margaret, Ryan – new birth of water and the word.  The new life of faith is what the Holy Trinity continues to renew and strengthen in you through the Gospel – the words and gifts by which the Holy Spirit brings Christ to you.


When the LORD of hosts came to Isaiah – the temple was filled with smoke.  This house of worship is not filled with smoke even though the same LORD – high and lifted up – is among us now.  He does not send His messenger with a burning coal from the altar to touch your mouth.  The Almighty Son does promise to touch your mouth with the sum and substance of His burning love however.  From His altar He serves you His true body to eat – His true blood to drink – for the forgiveness of sins.  The beautiful absolution spoken to Isaiah holds also for you in receiving His heavenly food in faith – your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.


That’s why you are free to joyfully say “Amen” each week as through the liturgy you ask your pastor to call to Him who loves you!  The name by which Yahweh of angel armies has revealed himself is the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  The way the Holy Trinity is known is by His actions.  The Holy Spirit is active right now pointing you to Jesus – constantly swinging you round to see Jesus for who He is – one with the Father and the Spirit - Son of the Father – Savior of the world – your LORD.  “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”


In the Name of Jesus, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a