Home > Pentecost > Exalted to the Lowest Place. The Feast of the Holy Trinity 2013

Exalted to the Lowest Place. The Feast of the Holy Trinity 2013

icon_of_the_holy_trinityThe Feast of the Holy TrinityBaptism of Anniversary of Cong., Mem. Day

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. John 3:1-17

May 26, 2013

Exalted to the lowest place

Jesu juva!



A happy ending?  God’s in His heaven, all’s right with the world?

Here comes one of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus—a ruler of the Jews.  A Pharisee.  What the disciples hoped would happen seems to be happening.  Sure, Jesus was opposed and they had some hard times.  But everything will turn out right in the end.  It has to be, because He’s the Messiah, the King of the Jews.  So the rulers hate him now, but look, they’re already starting to come around.


Nicodemus says, “We know you are a teacher from God.  Otherwise how could you do all these miraculous signs, unless God was with you?”

Who would be more likely to know whether someone was from God than the students of Scripture, the teachers of God’s Word among the people called by God’s name?


Jesus didn’t deny that the Jews were the people called by God’s name.  Gentiles worshipped idols.


We also don’t look for God everywhere.  He can’t be found apart from His Word other than as a God of wrath.  So all other religions are not the same.


But despite being a teacher of the people of God and a student of the Word of God, Nicodemus didn’t know God at all.

“We know you are a teacher from God…”  To say that is not enough to know Jesus.


To say that is not enough to know God either.


Muslims say that Jesus was a teacher from God, that HE ascended to heaven, etc.  They believe in one God, and as they will tell you, they believe in Jesus and they love Him.


Most Americans are not atheists.  They believe in God.  Most of them probably believe that Jesus is God.


But they still do not know God nor Jesus.


No one is able to recognize or perceive God’s kingdom, His reign which is here and which is coming, in which sin and death are destroyed, unless he is born again or born from above.


If Jesus had simply come to have people “accept” Him in the sense of recognizing that God sent Him, or His teaching was true, that He should be obeyed, Nicodemus would have already “accepted Him.”


But recognizing Jesus as a prophet or one with God’s authority is not enough.  It is useless.


And no one can perceive God’s salvation and enter into it unless he is reborn from on high, from God.


It doesn’t matter how wise you are, how knowledgeable of Scripture, how pious you are, how long you’ve gone to church or how much you’ve served there.


Nicodemus was the teacher of God’s people.  But He didn’t know God and could not recognize God’s kingdom of salvation even though it had come.


Israel’s teachers did not know God and could not see His kingdom because they thought they already knew God and were part of His kingdom.

They had the Scriptures, didn’t they?


They had God’s promise, didn’t they?


God had taken them as His people and dwelt in the midst of them in the temple, didn’t He?


They had circumcision, which marked them as people of the promise.


But without being born from on High or reborn by the water and the Spirit, these things profited nothing.  They did not understand the Scriptures or believe them; they did not recognize the Lord who dwelt in the temple when He came in a new house—human flesh.  They did not believe in the one who was promised to them in circumcision—Abraham’s offspring.


Nicodemus thought that he was already holy, and now this teacher from God would unfold heavenly wisdom to him—add to what he already had.


You are just like Nicodemus and most of the people of Israel.

You have the Scriptures.


The Lord is present with you in His body and blood.


You are baptized—NT circumcision.


But like Nicodemus and most of the people of Israel, we think that we can come to God without being reborn—dying and rising again.

No.  You must be born from above, or you cannot recognize the kingdom of God coming to you and you cannot enter the kingdom of God.


Like Moses we want to see God’s glory.  But no one has ascended into heaven except He who descended from heaven.


Only through Him can we know God.  He alone knows the Father, and whoever He chooses to reveal the Father.


He reveals God not by being exalted and lifted up on a throne, in majesty.

You see how that affected Isaiah!

You see Him and know God when you see Him exalted and lifted up on the cross of shame the way that Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness.


That is what Baptism is

It is coming as a sinner who is unable to know God by nature or see or enter His kingdom


God’s mighty Spirit is poured out on you, brings you into the kingdom of God.


You see Jesus as the one who became sin and is held up before our eyes to save us from deadly poison of sin.


To live in Baptism is to come to God this way—not as someone who knows something and is already holy, but as one who has nothing, knows nothing, except sin and death.


We are baptized into Him who is all-glorious but descended into the depths of sin for us and cancelled it.


All of the church year leads to today, the feast of the Trinity.

The only God who shows mercy like this is the Trinity.


He gives all of Christ to us in Baptism, all that we’ve heard about during the festival portion of the year.


The world does not know where you come from or where you are going.  But you are born of the Spirit, which means you are united to Jesus the Son, who came from God and returned to Him.


That is the glory that fills St. Peter now for 156 years—not our own knowledge, wisdom, holiness, but that God lifts up His Son in our midst like the snake on the pole and baptizes us into Him, and He adds another to us today.  Let us give thanks for Anthony who today is born again of water and the Spirit.


The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.




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