Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009 TRINITY

And there was a man of the Pharisees, Nikodemos, his name, a ruling one of the Jews; This one came to Him at night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that from God you have come–a teacher; for no one is able the things of God to do, which You do, unless God is with him." Jesus answered and said to him, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless someone is born anew, that one is not able to see the kingdom of God. Nikodemos said to Him, "How is a man able to be born, being old? He is not able into the womb of His mother a second time to enter and to be born?" Answered Jesus, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, one cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That born out of the flesh is flesh, and that born out of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I say to you, `It is necessary for you to be born anew.' The wind blows where it wills and the sound of it you hear, but you do not know from where it comes and where it goes; thus is everyone who is born of the Spirit. " Nikodemos answered and said to Him, "How are these things able to be?" Jesus answered and said to him, "You are the teacher of Israel and these things you do not know? Amen, amen I say to you, that what we know, we speak, and what we have seen we bear witness to. And our witness, you do not receive. If things of the earth I speak to you, and you don't believe, how if ever I speak to you of heavenly things, will you believe? And no one ascended int the heavens if not the one who out of the heavens came down, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so it is necessary for the Son of Man to be lifted up; in order that all who are believing in Him have eternal life."

If someone comes up to you and claims to be *born again*, they probably aren't, at least not in the way Jesus describes to Nicodemus. That's because most *born again Christians* today mean something completely different than Jesus. Many Christians today foolishly think that they have *done something* to make themselves born anew. They think they have prayed the Sinner's Prayer, or made a decision for Christ, or sincerely invited Jesus into their hearts, or made Him their Lord.

Nicodemus was just such a *doer*. He was a Pharisee, who had memorized all 613 rules of the Old Testament, and strove to live by them. Other Pharisees looked up to him, and he was placed on the Sanhedrin council which ruled the Jewish people. Nick was an upright man, well thought of by all. He not only talked the talk, but walked the walk pretty well. But Jesus knew Nick's flaws. Nick trusted in what he did to try to get into heaven by his own efforts. So Jesus shows him the better way–being born anew!

Now, like Nick, you probably think that you are a pretty good creation already, as you strive to do, do, do. You may foolishly think that if you try really hard to do God-pleasing things, that the Lord will grade you on a pretty generous curve, and let you into His heaven on your efforts alone. If you believe as Nick did, then Bzzzz. Wrong answer. You will never get to heaven that way.

That's why you need God the Father this Trinity Sunday. He is the Maker of all things in heaven and on earth. And He is your re-creator as well. He makes you new in Baptism, drowning and killing old sinful you in its waters, so that you could rise up from the font to brand new life! You are born again in the sacrament of Baptism, born from above to heavenly, everlasting life in Christ Jesus!

Like Nick, you also probably think that you are a pretty capable sort. You may trust in yourself to get yourself out of most jams, and think that you are able to get yourself out of the predicament of your sins. If you figure you can pull yourself up by your own bootstraps if need be, like Nick thought, then Bzzz. Wrong answer. You can never pull yourself up high enough to reach heaven.

That's why you need God the Son this Trinity Festival. He is your Redeemer, the only One Who could pull you out of the depths of your despair. For you were snake-bit by the devil himself, tempted to sin and receive its wages of everlasting death. But Jesus was willing to be lifted up in your place at the +, where He became your sin and suffered your punishment, so that you could be lifted up in Him.

Like Nick, once again, you probably think that you are pretty smart. You've been to Sunday School and through confirmation. You've attended Bible classes and come regularly to hear sermons. You know God's plan pretty well. So if you think like Nick, that you've got God all figured out, and see what He does clearly, think again. Bzzz. Wrong answer. You can never know all that God does behind the scenes.

That's why you need God the Holy Spirit this Trinity Day. He is the one Who deals with your faith so that you can rely on the invisible workings of God you can't see or comprehend otherwise. He brings to your mind and heart those truths of Jesus that would be unfathomable without His help. For instance, He causes you to trust that Jesus' body is in the bread, and His blood in the cup at Communion.

Today we confess together the Athanasian Creed.

Today we sing from LSB:
#507 Holy, Holy, Holy!
#947 All Glory be to God on High
#498 Come, Holy Ghost, Creator Blest
#604 I Bind Unto Myself Today

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