The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all! Amen. In the name of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, friends in Christ,
We have all sorts of relationships in life, don’t we? Some relationships are important others perhaps not so much. Some relationships are close, some are not. Some relationships are significant, others not so significant. We have all sorts of relationships in life: today especially we focus on the relationship of fathers with their children, but we have all kinds of other relationships: with our spouse or with our children or with our family or with our siblings or with our friends or with our coworkers or with our fellow church members or with the person we strike up a conversation with at the store. And two of the over-arching needs that every human being has in life are having not only good relationships with other people, but having a good relationship with God. In order to have a good life every person needs those relationships.
So, here we are on Trinity Sunday and we’re focusing on that relationship that we have with our Triune God. So since the most important need humans have in order to have a good life is a good relationship with God, how many of us considered the enormity of the fact that God is Triune this past week? How many of us used that word “Triune” or “Trinity” in our discussions this past week? I’m guessing that “triune” or “trinity” don’t make it into our regular vocabulary. So it’s with great wisdom that the church for centuries has set aside one Sunday a year to focus on our Triune God and our relationship with Him.
We see it here in our text. Here Jesus is getting ready to physically and visibly leave His disciples presence and He directs them on what they were to be doing. Specifically one of the things they were to be doing was making disciples of all nations by baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And that makes perfect sense. Since the Father is God, it makes sense that they were to baptize in the name of God the Father. And they were to baptize people in the name of the Son. And that makes sense because Jesus, the Son, is God. And they were to baptize people in the name of the Holy Spirit. And that makes sense because the Holy Spirit is God.
So the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. Three very distinct persons, each of whom are clearly referenced in the Bible as being “God.” Yet, the Bible is also very clear that there aren’t three Gods. The Bible is crystal clear that there is only one God, in Deuteronomy God says, “Hear O Israel the Lord is one” and in 1 Timothy “There is one God…” So the Bible is crystal clear that there is only one God.
And so, we’re faced with two crystal clear truths of God’s Word 1. There is only one God, 2. There are three distinct persons each of whom is God. And what happens? Basically, we throw up our hands and with some degree of confusion and say, “God, you are way too big for me to understand” “God, you are way to huge for a simple mind like mine to grasp.” And so we coin terms like “Triune” and “Trinity” in order to describe God’s person. But the terms are really non-sense terms. Triune is a combination of the prefix Tri (which means 3) and Une (which means 1). So, literally, it means “the three one.” And Trinity which is the combination of tri and unity means “the three-one-ness.” Real helpful, right? Actually by confessing that God is triune we are confessing that we sinful human beings cannot wrap our minds around the entire truth of God.
But there’s also something wonderfully comforting in confessing this truth. It means that your God is huge, it means that your God is awesome, it means that your God can do absolutely anything! God is so huge that we can’t even come near to understanding His essence. Which is comforting! God has the ability to help you and me. He has the ability to make things work out no matter what. He has the ability to make things work out in the best possible way for the most amount of people. He has the ability to do whatever needs to be done in order to make sure that things will work out according to His plans. God has that ability and we confess it when we confess that He is Triune.
So, think about it, if our God is really that huge, that awesome, that magnificent, do you and I really have anything to fear in life? If our God is that huge, that awesome, that amazing then why in the world would any of us be anything but always completely confident in life? If God is that huge then why in the world would we do anything except what He’s told us, like here in our text “obey everything I have commanded you”? Remember, that’s our huge, almighty, amazing God speaking! How could we even ever think about neglecting worshipping God, or studying His Word, or telling others about him? How could we, as fathers, ever neglect our number one duty as fathers to bring our children up in the training and instruction of the Lord?
And notice what else God says here, “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” That means that awesome, huge, incredible, majestic God sees it all. He’s seen everything that you and I would love to forget about. He’s been there every time we’ve purposefully sinned against Him. He knows every shameful thought, every careless word, every detestable act that we’ve ever made.
And that Triune God, that huge, awesome, incredible, mind-boggling God is also all-powerful. And as such not only does He have every right to judge us He also has all the power in every universe to give us what we rightfully deserve to condemn us, to squish us, to destroy us forever. Ouch.
And the same is true for these disciples in our text. They’re no different than you and I. This was written not just for them, but also for us. Though it’s only the eleven disciples that are referenced here it’s quite possible that this is the time that is referenced in 1 Corinthians as the time when Jesus appeared to over 500 believers at once in Galilee. And it says that “when they saw him, they worshipped him.” But then it goes on, “but some doubted.” Really? Doubted? How could they do that? After all that they had seen? After all the miracles that Jesus did? They saw him go to the cross, die on the cross, and then appear before him alive! They had the witness testimony of Mary Magdalene, the women, the Emmaus disciples, the other disciples, Peter, John. How could they doubt?? We’d almost expect Jesus now to finally lose his patience with them, tell them He’s through with them, and find some other disciples.
But notice how Jesus, how the Triune God, deals with them. Not harshly, but graciously. First, He tells them “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him.” All authority, power, and might has been and always will be our God’s. Need there be anything to fear in life? Then he commissions them for the work that he wants them to be doing, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” In other words, He tells them, “We’ve got work to do –together, we’ve got a wonderful message of sins forgiven to share with the world.” And he doesn’t even just let them go and figure it out themselves but he gives them the very tools to do this most important work – the word of God and the powerful washing of baptism. Baptism where God takes people who are outside of him, people who are his enemies, and he brings them “into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Makes people his own dear children.
And he gives them a powerful promise: his permanent presence with them. He knew their failures, their foibles, their mistakes, their doubt, but He doesn’t leave them. He knew they would often disappoint him and fail him, but he would fail them. He – the awesome, huge, amazing God – would go with them. So how does God deal with his people? With wonderful grace, mercy, and forgiveness. He deals with us as his children, children who bear His name.
How do we know that? We know that by our baptism. When you were born you were born into a relationship with a father and a mother. And if you had a good father, a father who loved you, cared for you both physically and spiritually, you were proud to call him father, proud to bear his name. But whether or not you had a good father, you have an infinitely better Triune God. At your baptism He wrote His name on you. You were baptized into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Think about what you write your name on. You don’t write your name on something that doesn’t mean much to you. You don’t write your name on a orange peel that you throw in the garbage. You don’t write your name on a piece of junk mail that gets thrown in the recycling. You write your name on something that is important – maybe the title for your house, title for your car – you write your name on things that are yours, that you don’t want to lose, that are important to you, that are valuable and special to you.
In your baptism, the awesome, HUGE, powerful, triune God came to you and … He placed His name upon you. What was/is God saying? He’s saying, “You’re special … to ME! You’re so special to Me that I do NOT want to lose you! You’re so valuable to Me that I’m going to place My name upon you so that everyone knows that you belong to ME, that you’re MY child!” Can you imagine? The triune God – the God who’s essence is so beyond our understanding – that God, that three-in-one, perfect God – He’s placed His name upon you. Which makes you what? It makes you to be a child of the Almighty! A child of the Triune! A child of God! The AWESOME God! The All-Powerful God! The Huge God!
And just how – do you think – will that awesome, all-powerful, HUGE, loving, forgiving God take care of those precious children of His?!? Graciously, mercifully, faithfully lovingly! What a relationship! Amen.