Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sermon June 2-3, 2012

Title: The fullness of the Godhead in Christ!

Text: John 3:16-17 (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 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.

Dear friends,

I think that in these difficult times that we live, there is a word that is heard quite often … it’s called diversity.  We are also encouraged by society to embrace diversity or be looked upon as narrow minded and self absorbed individuals. Well, for all of us diverse individuals here, we must ask the question: What is diversity?

Diversity can be defined as:

Of being composed of differing things, and especially the inclusion of different types of people as people of different races or cultures.

We are at the same time, called on to be unique.

Unique can be defined in this way:

To be the only one … or … being without something equal to or quite like … you for instance. Sometimes a person can be called unequaled or unparalleled which can mean to have distinctive characteristics that makes you unique in a way, or the only one.

It is always a unique and diverse experience to preach on Trinity Sunday and to try to bring to our understanding God’s word and the concept and nature of God, presented in the writings of Holy Scripture. It is a job, to say the least, that is utterly … inscrutable! And, with the Trinity, this simply means … that it is difficult to understand and that it is something really hard to figure out!

But God has made a way and we will look a bit closer at His way for us to grasp and understand the Trinity because God has given us:

The fullness of the Godhead in Christ!

In our Gospel lesson today we read the very familiar story of Jesus and this man of the Pharisees, Nicodemus. Now, this man Nicodemus was even a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest council of the Jewish Church and we find this out a little later in John’s gospel. He came to Jesus by night, somewhat fearing his colleagues, who’s dislike for Jesus was very clear from the beginning of His ministry, and also partly because he wanted to be with him by himself and not be disturbed. He felt a growing concern and dissatisfaction with the Jewish leaders, who were condemning Jesus’ unique and diverse message. This means that Jesus had one message, that His message was unequaled in the world, and that it was for all people regardless of race, culture or standing. Nicodemus believed that this new Teacher had something wonderful to say and should be heard and he had a desire to know more.

Nicodemus tells Jesus that he and a few others had come to the conclusion that Jesus was a Teacher that had come from God. They recognized in Him a divine message but not at all an understanding of Christ's divine nature. These Jews to whom Nicodemus belonged had simply drawn their conclusions from the evidence seen before their eyes. God had confirmed the teaching of Jesus by miracles and the testimony that brought conviction to all of them. Jesus commanded their attention with the wonders He performed and they clearly indicated the power of God beyond all question. There was no doubt of God's being with this man Jesus. The knowledge of Nicodemus and the others went so far as to even recognize in Jesus a prophet on a level with those of the Old Testament, but it did not go so far as to accept Him as the Messiah.

The position of Nicodemus is shared by many so-called Christians today. Their confession of Jesus completely conforms to their own reason. They believe Him to be a great Teacher and they praise His loving kindness shown throughout the scriptures. But they do not want to acknowledge Him as the only true God and the Savior of the world. They still see and embrace the idea of diversity and many different paths that lead to a loving god and the unique way that each person finds their way to their own truth.

But Jesus tells Nicodemus and all of us that:

The fullness of the Godhead in only found in Him!

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus can’t quite grasp this concept. “How can these things be?” he asks?

Jesus brings the work of God into focus.

5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

The working of God through the water and Spirit in the sacrament of Holy Baptism brings even a tiny child into the kingdom of God.

Many people wrestle with Christ’s unique claims? How about you? Let’s look at a few others:

6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

Or how about:

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51)

And from John chapter 12:

“Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.

And finally:

26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

When we read Jesus’ own words, we see the diverse nature of God and that this nature is composed of different peasons, and that also God is unique, the only one … being without something equal to or quite like.

Jesus lays it all out for Nicodemus:

12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13  No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, - that’s another me statement - the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

It is hard to understand the concept and unique nature of the Godhead and the diversity of the Trinity of God

… but Jesus, connects His work for the salvation of the world to that of Moses, who put a serpent on a pole in the wilderness so that when the people of Israel looked to it, they were healed and lived. We too can look to Jesus for salvation and know that:

The fullness of the Godhead can be found only in Christ!

In Colossians 2 we read about God in Christ and this becomes a bit easier for us to understand:

9 For in him (Jesus) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

The diversity and uniqueness of the Godhead is found in Christ.

10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Friends … Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is the fullness of God, and how God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. You who have been buried with Him in baptism have been made alive by the working of the Holy Spirit who, as we also heard last week - is God in us - and having pointed us to the cross of Christ, we see that the record of debt - which is our sins – that the debt has been canceled, because your sins have been nailed to the cross with Jesus.

Somehow … and we can’t expect to figure this out, because it’s part of that inscrutable Trinity of God and that fullness of God is found only in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

The cross that I wear has a unique depiction or representation in art of the Trinity of God. It shows Jesus Christ who has been nailed to the cross and behind the cross you see what represents the Father, with His head, just above the cross as his hands reach around the cross holding up and sustaining the arms of Jesus, all the while the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. It is a simple reminder for me, that when I look to Christ … I see the fullness of God … and this fullness of God is found in the diversity of the three persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit who in unity in the Trinity of God remain unique and through the work of Christ set you and me free from the bonds of sin, death and the Devil forever.

The fullness of the Godhead in Christ!

Today we will partake of the fullness of God together when we come to the Lord’s Table and receive the true body and blood of Christ given and shed for you. That is to say, that we partake with “the communion of saints” or in and through the sacraments, we have become partakers of the holy things of another world.

Martin Luther had this to say about the communion of saints:

“…because Christ and all the saints are one spiritual body, just as the inhabitants of a city are one community and body, each citizen being a member of the other and member of the entire city. All the saints therefore are members of Christ and of the church, which is a spiritual and eternal city of God, and whoever is taken into this city is said to be received into the community of saints, and to be incorporated into Christ’s spiritual body and made a member of Him.”

God has made you a member of Him in baptism, He sustains you and all the saints by His true body and blood given and shed for you. Christianity is unique in that it is the only religion where God come down and reveals Himself to us. God, in Christ, has come down for you and He lived a sinless life, suffered a horrible death, died and was buried and rose again for your justification – which means that you are declared not guilty in the sight of God and by His Spirit, God has called you to believe this Good News.

3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, - not many - and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

The diverse nature of God also is seen in the diverse nature of those he chooses to save. He, desires that all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth!

God comfort you with this truth now and forever!


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