May 22, 2016
John 8:48-59 .....48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
Grace, Mercy and Peace to you from God, our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
This morning we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday. This topic is much debated among different denominations and other religions such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The reason it is so highly debated is because the actual word, “Trinity”, does not appear anywhere in the Bible. It is a word we use to describe something we are taught in the Bible; that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God. They are not 3 different beings, but just 1.
Yet it is easy to see why they are thought as 3 different individuals. Many times in the New Testament, Jesus refers to the other two in such manners. He speaks about his Father who is up in Heaven or the Spirit who will later come. Each of the 3 take on different roles and to our standards would be considered 3 separate beings. And yet, unknown to us how it can be done, they are still just our 1 true God. The reason we know this is because we are told this throughout the Bible. Yes, it is true that the word, “Trinity”, is not mentioned, but we ARE told that each of the 3 is God.
As it is mostly the identity of Jesus that is debated, I will not spend too much time on the Holy Spirit, but it does say this in the first 4 verses of Acts 5, “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’” The Holy Spirit is named God in this passage.
Our Gospel Lesson from this morning is one such proof text we use that indicates Jesus as God. It says, “[Jesus said to them], ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” They try to stone him because they believe Jesus to be blaspheming by naming himself God. We know this to be true through the name, “I am” which we see in the 13th and 14th verses of Exodus 3, which is part of the story of Moses and the burning bush, “Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ 14 God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “I am has sent me to you.”’”. It is one of the 7 “I am” statements in the book of John such as, “I am the Door; I am the Good Shepherd, and so on.
And yet these “I am” statements are not the best proof texts I find in the Bible. There are so many more. The best I find comes in the 1st chapter of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In this text, the proof I see is not what most people use this text for. Most people focus on the words, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Seems pretty straight forward. The Word, who is later revealed as Jesus, is God. The problem with this is the translation itself. Those who are opposed to Jesus being God will argue that there is no definite article in front of the word, God. For this reason, they translate it to mean “a god”, saying that Jesus is just a lesser deity. Now I’m not going to get into all the technical terms of how a definite article would confuse the subject of the sentence and thus it is written under something called Caldwell’s Rule, but I will say that our translation is correct in saying that Jesus is God. But rather than dwell on something that critics will argue with us about until they’re blue in the face, I would like to point out something that cannot be argued against.
This is what directly follows the pre-mentioned statement, “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” According to Genesis 1, the first words in the entire Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Who am I to argue with what the Bible says. Genesis says that God created the heavens and the earth. It does not say he appointed some lesser god to do it in his place. In John it says all things were made through Jesus, and that there was not any thing made that was not made through him.
Put simply, The Father is God. The Son is God. The Spirit is God. We can rest assured in this fact. And it is through these 3 that we have been saved. The Father has announced this, the Son has been sacrificed and risen for this, and the Spirit assures us of this. When we celebrate the Trinity, we celebrate the one true God. We do not know how it is possible, but we do not need to know. He says it to be true and thus it is. For God makes things true through his words. He said, “Let there be light”, and there was light. He spoke the world into being. Through his Word, we know what is true.
And through his Word we are comforted in these truths. He was told us that he loves us. He has told us that he is always there for us. And most importantly, he has told us that we are his forever more being saved through the blood of the lamb to dwell with him forever in his kingdom, which has no end. Amen.