Trinity Sunday 2020
June 7, 2020
“It’s a SmALL World”
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior and Good Shepherd Jesus. The basis for the sermon today is the Gospel lesson from Matthew 28, a text known as the “Great Commission.”
My Dear Friends,
Garrison Keillor once wrote regarding love that, “we should not think that we have figured this idea of love out, because it is not a problem. It’s a mystery and it always will be.”
Doesn’t that strike you as odd? “Love is a mystery and it always will be.” Doesn’t it seem weird there are things in this life that we have not – and probably will not ever – figure out? We will never figure out an explanation for the events of the last 3 ½ months. It surprising there are still some mysteries in life because we have “figured out” so much already. I have a cell phone far more powerful than most computers I’ve ever worked with in my working career. We can replace a human liver or remove a leg and replace it with a mechanized prosthetic. We can send people into space and welcome them back home again but we can’t figure out love? We don’t like the idea that there are things that always have been and always will be mysteries to us.
The temptation to explain mysteries also exists with God as the Holy Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the great three in one. We would like one simple easily-understandable statement to explain the Trinity, which will answer all questions and then allow us to move on to the next mystery. I hate to disappoint you so early in my sermon, but I cannot provide you with that kind of statement today…or ever. I cannot fully explain the nature of a Triune God any more than I could fully explain love.
Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, the only Sunday in the church year devoted to a teaching of the church; what we know about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Gospel text appointed for today is from the last four verses of Matthew’s Gospel; a text commonly referred to as the “Great Commission” as Jesus gives us instructions regarding what we are to do as his disciples. It is not a long passage, but it is critical to our understanding of how the Triune God reveals himself to us.
Being as close to Disney as we are, even though it’s not currently open, we all know the song “It’s a Small World,” right? Well, did you see how many times the word “all showed up in the lesson today? All authority, all nations, all I have commanded you, and I am with you all the days. Let’s examine those four phrases, and see how they help us better understand our Triune God.
“All authority.” This authority that Jesus has been given had to come from somewhere. If any of us have authority, it must come from somewhere else: our boss at work, our government, our parents, etc. God the Father, creator and ruler over both heaven and earth, has given his authority to Jesus.
Well, who is God? THAT’S a loaded question! Normally we think of the work of creation as the work of God the Father. That’s why we had that LONG 1st lesson. God created all things, hence, he has authority over his creation. God is a spirit; he is a personal being without a body. As created humans we were made in God’s image, an image we lost after Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. It is God the Father who takes care of us by giving us all that we need for each day; our “daily bread.” God defends us from all danger and evil. God the Father provides and protects, just as a loving father cares for his loved children. God the Father is all authority and has all authority as the creator and sustainer of all things.
“All nations.” Jesus sends his followers out to make disciples of the eqnh or the “nations” meaning all people. How do we make disciples? We teach. The content of their teaching? Jesus Christ, of course! The disciples were to go and proclaim Jesus Christ to all people everywhere.
Well, who is this Jesus they were to proclaim? Jesus is “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary.” We know Jesus is true God for he does divine works that only God can do. But he is also true man. Scripture clearly calls him a man, he has a human body and feelings. Jesus had to be true God so that his life, suffering, and death on the cross might be a sufficient sacrifice for all people everywhere at all times. He also had to man so that he might take our place as our substitute under God’s law and suffer and die for us. We sin, Jesus didn’t. We deserve punishment and death for our sin, but Christ took that punishment for us. This is the Jesus (2nd article of the Apostles’ Creed) that the disciples (and us) are to proclaim to all the nations.
“All I have commanded you.” In order to do all that Christ commanded, we need his help and that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. Jesus left this earth. After being on the earth 40 days after his resurrection, he returned to heaven to be with God the Father. But he didn’t leave us empty handed. Just as he promised, he sent the third person of the Holy Trinity – the Holy Spirit – our Advocate, Helper, Comforter, and Counselor. When the Holy Spirit comes upon us, we are brought to faith in Jesus and the Spirit keeps us in that same true faith.
The Holy Spirit does more than bring us to faith. The Spirit also renews our whole lives! With his aid, we are changed so that we strive to overcome sin, to do good works, and proclaim all that Jesus has done for us; “No one can say that Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3) . We think, speak, and act in faith according to what God commanded us in his Word for the glory of God and for the benefit of our neighbor.
Jesus tells us in one last “all” phrase that, when translated literally, says “I am with you all the days.” In Matthew 18:20, Jesus tells us that “For where 2 or 3 come together in my name, there am I with them.” Jesus didn’t leave us alone…he left us together as his people, as his church. And whenever the church carries out its Greatr Commission of baptism, teaching, and making disciples, he is “with us all the days” through his words, through the waters of Baptism, through his body and blood of Holy Communion.
I don’t know how you feel about the song “It’s a Small World.” But it is our world. This is what God created. We are the ones Christ died to save. We are the ones motivated by the Holy Spirit to go and make disciples of ALL nations. Granted, we may not be able to explain the Holy Trinity – it will always be a mystery – but we can give ALL thanks and praise for God the Father who provides for us, for God the Son who died for us, and for God the Holy Spirit who keeps us in the one true faith with a love we could never explain, but will eternally celebrate.
Be strong and stay safe, my friends.