31 May 2015
Almighty and everlasting God, You have given us grace to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity by the confession of a true faith and to worship the Unity in the power of the Divine Majesty. Keep us steadfast in this faith and defend us from all adversities;
Today we conclude the festival half of the church year. We celebrate the Holy Trinity. We rejoice. You are born into the Trinity’s kingdom. What does that really mean? What it means are two important realities.
Born of the flesh.
Nicodemus; a flesh-born man could hardly believe it. Because he was born a human that was the only reality that he knew, he had only a limited knowledge. He could not understand God in earthly and human terms. How could he see things from God's perspective? He could not. Nor can any man. He cannot understand the things of God. “But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
Man is born in the image of man. “When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image and named him Seth.” (Genesis 3:14) We are human. We are mortal. We are less than God. Jesus also shares our nature. He too, took on flesh and dwelt among us. He entered time and space. As a human, He was less than God. But according to His divine nature, He is equal to God. This is what the Church has always confessed. You affirmed it this morning. “Equal to the Father with respect to His divinity, less than the Father with respect to His humanity.” In the person of Jesus, two natures come together - the human as well as the divine. That’s the miracle of Christmas. God becoming human. Entering our tine. Being one of us. Like us in every respect. Except without sin.
We are born. Not once but twice.
2. Born again of water and the Spirit.
You’ve been given a second-birth. By the power of the Holy Spirit, you are made a new creature. The Spirit creates in you a living and vibrant faith so that you can know God and believe in Him. The miracle of the Spirit’s work in you – Holy Baptism and all that it offers becomes the reality of this second birth. By nature, we are blind, dead, and enemies of God. But in this Holy washing, you are renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
From Luther’s small catechism. What does such baptizing with water signify?
It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Where is this written?
St. Paul says Romans, chapter 6: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Jesus gives us an example from the Old Testament. As a bronze serpent was lifted up on a pole and all who in faith looked upon that serpent were spared and lived so likewise the Son of Man Jesus Christ was lifted up to bring us salvation and life. When we look to Him in faith, we too have the promise of life.
The Father sent His Son for your salvation. God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son. The Father loved you so much that He gave you His very best. He will give you the very best. This is His intention for you that you might have all that He has. Thus He gives you us what you so desperately need; the forgiveness of all of our sins and the promise of life in His name. He gives you salvation and life so that you may know Him as Father. Ask of Him in prayer. As children, address their parents. God would by these words tenderly urge us to believe that He is our true Father, and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.
Because of the Trinity, you have a Father who loves you. You have a Son who has died for you. You have the Spirit who draws near to you. Once you were in darkness. Now you have come to His marvelous light.
We have just celebrated the high points of the church year – Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and the feast of Pentecost. The Trinity – three distinct persons, one divine godhead directs, sustains, and leads you. He gives you new birth. He grants you new life. He performs His work in you. He will bring it to completion on the Last Great Day.
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