Dreie­in­igkeit Gottes

Faith Impulse

Trinity - or how was this with the triune God?   
Sermon on John 14, 1-20 

Dear sisters and brothers, today's text from the Gospel of John offers me an excellent opportunity to address the Trinity of God once again. 

After all, it is Jesus Himself who says essential things about Himself and the Father - or Himself and the Holy Spirit. But you have to believe it. But you have to understand it. In order to be able to explain or describe it. 

And this is where the difficulties begin for most Christians. For me, too - I can honestly admit that. I, too, had to dive into the doctrine of the Trinity of God. 

Now at this point you could object: If already you as a pastor have difficulties there, what should I say then? If it's so complicated, what's the point? Shouldn't we just talk about Jesus?

To this my first answer would be: It is always good to talk about Jesus. Do that. But please also listen to what we heard in the Gospel today. It is Jesus himself who speaks of the Father and who mentions the other helper.

There are important reasons, and in my eyes a considerable added value, if we deal with the Trinity of God. Because God is not only Father. And not only Jesus. God is, if I only take these two descriptions Father and Son, claim and promise at the same time. This becomes especially clear in the person of Jesus, and I will give a few more examples as we go on.

In the beginning of this sermon, however, I would like to say a few very basic things about the Trinity of God. Today, in our reading, we have heard the core or the starting point for the doctrine of the Trinity of God: "He who has seen me has seen the Father." I am in the Father and the Father is in me. The self-revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the core or foundation for the doctrine of the Trinity.

A second important point is: The Trinity of God, as we understand it today, is not found in the Bible. Today's text is probably one of the clearest and most unambiguous texts on this subject, but only the confessional texts, such as the Apostles' Creed or the Nicene Creed, grasp the Trinity of God in today's sense.

And with this, a third very important point can be made at the beginning: The doctrine of the Trinity of God is not a theoretical constructioin that clever theologians have thought up. No, but it arises from the faith experiences of those people who have experienced the life-changing power of the Risen Lord.

So, in reality, we could also describe Trinity this way: How can we adequately speak of God revealed in Jesus and experienced through the Holy Spirit.

In a next step, I would now like to shed light on the most diverse experiences that we humans have with God. And how we relate them to God the Father or God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. I believe this can help us understand why we need the Trinity of God. Or why we live with it and what that looks like in practical terms.

And then I will conclude the sermon with some examples of why we should hold on to God's unity despite these triune attributions of God. That is, why we believe in one God and not three gods. Three Gods with three names like Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Let us start with Jesus.
Jesus Christ as the Son of God is the sign through which God the Father makes himself recognizable in this world. Or in other words: In Jesus we get to know the Father. This is exactly how it is written in today's reading: "If you have known who I am, you will also know my Father." And Jesus empathizes that with the next sentence, "Yes, you already know him, you have already seen him." So in my own word I can say: you already know the Father because you have seen me, Jesus. 

In fact, it is in the human person, Jesus, that we experience God in a graspable way. Here God speaks in a way that we understand. Here God acts in a way that we can imitate. Here God lives in a way that we know and can comprehend.

And when we look at the passion, the cross, and Jesus' resurrection, this is precisely the way God chooses to save us humans. "I am the way, the truth and the life" says Jesus. Now you can find that good or bad. Accept it or reject it. But the testimony that we find in many voices of the Bible is very clear: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.“

This brings me to the Holy Spirit. 
Jesus speaks in today's text of the other helper, who instead of Jesus, will always be with us. And even if this other helper does not talk to us in the way Jesus does, he still testifies to us the importance of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit ensures that Jesus is recognized as the sign and is thus the illuminating work of God through which He creates certainty of faith and where He awakens faith. 

To put it more simply, as human beings we cannot make faith. It must be given to us. God gives Himself into us so that we can experience God.

A particularly beautiful example of this is the Emmaus story. Jesus goes all the way to Emmaus with the two disciples. He talks to them. Explains to them the words in the Bible that point to him. He eats with them. Breaks the bread with them. And only then and all of a sudden they recognize Jesus. And this recognition, this certainty, this inner-being-moved, they then put into the words: 

„Didn't our heart burn within us when he talked with us?“

And then there is God, as the creator of the universe.
God as the beginning and the end. God as a mystery that is always so much greater than we can think. God who does or allows things that we humans don't understand. God as a counterpart who does not answer our why-questions. But to whom we can still say Father, because Jesus does it too. Or, as we have heard today, in whose house there will also be a dwelling place for us, which Jesus is preparing for us.

I would like to conclude with two arguments that I personally find very convincing. If Jesus were not God, then he could not bear the sin of the world, that is, of all mankind. How can he bear the sins of all the people who died before and after his resurrection. Meaning how could Jesus bear or sin?

And the second point is: If Jesus is really God, then God himself goes onto the cross and dies for us as a sign of voluntary surrender. It is not God who sacrifices His Son, but if you want to talk about sacrifice at all, then God sacrifices Himself. That makes a big difference, I think.

I will summarize the Trinity once again:
Jesus is the sign through which God the Father makes Himself known to the world.
And that Jesus is recognized as this sign is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Why is it then nevertheless only one God and not three Gods?
I would like to answer this good question with today's reading: Because Jesus himself says it in this way and not otherwise.
Jesus speaks about the fact that he is in the Father and the Father is in him. He is in him not outside of him.

Jesus also says this in reference to the Holy Spirit: "On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and I am in you." So it is always the same God who is in the Father or in us.

If we were to give up the unity of God, then we would lose the connection to the First Testament and would not acknowledge that Jesus was truly a Jew through and through.

As I said, I believe that we need the Trinity in order to be able to speak adequately of Jesus and the Holy Spirit as God.
And on the other hand, we hold on to the formulations of the Nicene Creed:
We believe in one God.
And in the one Lord Jesus Christ, being one with the Father. 
And in the Holy Spirit, who is worshipped and glorified with the Father and the Son.


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