Trinity Sunday – 6.12.22

+ Trinity Sunday – June 12th, 2022 +

Series C: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31; Acts 2:14, 22-36; John 8:49-59

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The Triune Paradox”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

Stay on the path. That’s one of the most basic rules of hiking. Those are also wise words for Trinity Sunday, a day when we celebrate one of the great paradoxes of the Christian faith.

 

“That we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.” Not three gods but one God in essence. And yet not one Person but three Persons. Three in One and One in Three.

 

Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate the this great paradox and mystery of the Christian faith, namely, that God is both Three and One at the same time. Three Persons in One Divine Essence, one Divine Essence in three Persons. Strange? You bet it is. Understandable? Of course not. So we confess it. As we will in the Athanasian Creed. A summary of about four hundred years of the church struggling four hundred years of struggling to say it just the right way.

 

And even then, we can only come to an approximation, as though looking through a dirty window pane. We can describe God using words like “person” and “being” and “essence” and “substance” but we can’t really explain God. How can something be both Three and One? 

 

No doubt you’ve heard many of the bad analogies of the Trinity. Some say the Trinity is like the sun in the sky; there’s the star, the light, and the heat. Sounds fine but it’s not. In fact, it’s the ancient heresy of Arianism, which taught that Christ and the Holy Spirit are creations of the Father and not one in nature with him, just like the heat and light are not the star itself but creations of the star.

 

Or, some say the Trinity is like water that has three different states: liquid, ice, and vapor. Sounds reasonable. Problem is the Father, Son, and Spirit are not states of God or modes of God’s existence, but distinct Persons with a distinct relationship to each other. The water analogy like many Trinitarian analogies, is just the ancient heresy of Modalism repackaged. God is not three distinct persons but reveals himself in three different forms.

 

And the list could go on. Safe to say, that when it comes to trying to solve the Triune Paradox, you’ll end up in one of two ditches. One is modalistic, which teaches that there’s one God, but three modes, or states, or forms he is present in. These errors deny the Trinitarian language of the Scriptures.

 

The other ditch is tri-theism – three gods. This denies God’s oneness, or unity. It’s what Islam accuses Christianity of. Tritheism. They even call us tri-theists. If you lose the Persons, you will end up as either a modalist or a unitarian. If you lose the one Essence, you will wind up with three separate gods. 

 

The trick to all paradoxes, is like the basic rule of hiking: stay on the path. Confess what Scripture teaches. We worship three Persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in one Being or Essence called “God.” It’s as simple as that.

 

This Trinitarian paradox is revealed all over Scripture. From the opening verses of Genesis in which the Father speaks the Word as the Spirit hovers over the waters of the deep to the Revelation, in which the Lamb who was slain but lives is enthroned at the right hand of the Father and the Spirit flows like a river of life from Father and Son.

 

The Trinity appears in today’s OT reading from Proverbs. The Son is personified as Wisdom, begotten from all eternity, from before the beginning of the earth.

 

The Trinity appears in today’s reading from Acts as well. Peter quotes the psalms. “The Lord says to my Lord, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” Jesus asked the crowds, paradoxically, “How can David’s son be David’s Lord?” And how can “the Lord” and “my Lord” talk to each other and sit next to each other?

 

The Trinity appears in today’s Gospel as well. Jesus is confronted with the paradox of who He is as the Son of God in the flesh. The religious types thought He was nuts. “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” That’s another way of saying, “You’re nuts.” And anyone who claims to be the Son of God in the flesh is nuts or delusional or demon possessed or at least a Samaritan heretic.

Here’s Jesus, a carpenter from Nazareth, claiming not simply to be the Messiah, the Christ. But also claiming that God Himself was His Father, that He was sent by the Father, that the Father glorifies Him with a glory not given to Abraham or to Moses or to any of the prophets.

 

Jesus even rubs it in a little bit by indicating that Father Abraham rejoiced by faith that he would see Jesus’ day. He acted as though He and Abraham were on a first name basis, which they were, and had seen each other, which they had. And then Jesus pushes the big button and flat out says it, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

 

This doesn’t simply mean that Jesus is chronologically older than Abraham, but that Jesus is the I AM who Moses say in the burning bush, YHWH of the ineffable name, the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who keeps covenant and shows mercy.

 

They understood exactly what Jesus was saying. They immediately took up stones to throw at Him. He claimed to be “I AM” in the flesh, an audacious claim.

 

Trinity Sunday and the Trinitarian paradox centers on Jesus. The Father sends His Son to suffer, die on a cross, and rise from the dead. And then the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

 

Luther was fond of saying that he knew no other God than the one who nurses at the breast of His virgin mother and who hands dead on the cross bearing the world’s sin. It’s tempting to speculate about God and come up with clever analogies and theories and alternative theologies. But that is nothing more than subtle idolatry in the end, fashioning gods for ourselves in our own image and likeness. God comes to us in the eternal Son. We know God in knowing Jesus. And we know no other God but this Jesus who suffers, dies, and rises, who sends His Spirit, who brings us to the Father.

 

The triune life of God is also our life in Holy Baptism. We are baptized into the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. We live, move, and have our being within this Triunity, worshipping the Father in the Spirit and in the Truth who is Jesus, having God as our Father, Jesus as our brother, and the Spirit as our Advocate and Guide. We are loved by the Father in the Beloved Son who bears our humanity and are drawn by the Spirit.

 

It is God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – who keeps you on the path. Who leads, guides, saves you, and reveals himself in this great triune paradox that we might rejoice and confess…

 

Blessed be the Holy Trinity and the Undivided Unity. Let us give glory to Him because He has shown His mercy to us.

 

A blessed Trinity Sunday to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sermon for Pentecost Sunday – 6.5.22

+ Pentecost Sunday – June 5th, 2022 +

Series C: Genesis 11:1-9; Acts 2:1-21; John 14:23-31

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“The House that God Built”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Every house has a builder. Looking for American Prairie style? Frank Lloyd Wright is your man. Want sweeping lines and curves? Try Eero Saarinen who designed the St. Louis Arch and the Fort Wayne Seminary.

 

Every house has a builder. So…think for a moment: what famous architect specializes in clay? That builder, of course, is God. And on this day of Pentecost we see that he builds much more than walls and roofs. By His Spirit, God builds you and the nations into the Church.

 

And in a way, this is what God has always done ever since the beginning. God is the greatest architect of all. Only He didn’t use AutoCad. God spoke creation into being. Let there be…and there was. And on the sixth day, God built our first parents by His Spirit. God makes his will known. God spoke. Let us make man in our image. Then God created, fashioned, formed. From the very clay he created, God fashioned man. He breathed life into the clay, and the man bore the image of God. The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

 

God also took a rib from this man and out of it he built a woman. And the man and woman delighted in each other. For they were bone of each other’s bone. And flesh of each other’s flesh. One with each other and one in fellowship with God. Eden was a garden, yes, but also a house that God built, along with Adam and Eve.

 

Sadly, however, we know what happens when God is not the builder, and when man tries to venture out on building his solo career of architecture in this fallen world. When man tries to build by himself, he builds for himself. Apart from God, what man builds always falls, and fails…sometimes catastrophically, as it did in Genesis 3, when everything God built and declared very good became corrupted, twisted, and warped in sin. That is what sin does, it touches and twists and taints everything we think, say, and do.

 

That’s what happened in Genes 11 as well. You would think after Cain was banished for murdering Abel; and after the waters flooded the entire earth because of man’s wickedness, that sinful, fallen man would progressively improve. But in fact sinful, fallen man is only good at progressively making things worse. The Tower of Babel is a great example of man’s building skills.

 

Man makes his confounded, sinful will known. Man speaks. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens. Man even fashions the clay, attempting to imitate His divine architect and Creator. Man formed the clay into bricks. Brick upon brick. A tower, not like the Chrysler building, but more like an ancient ziggurat. Man’s poor, pathetic attempt at remaking the mountain paradise of God in Eden. Man formed the clay but it has no life. He cannot breathe life into it. Yet, he wants the clay to bear his name, his image. let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” In the end, man is scattered. Confounded and confused. And all who call on the name of man – whether it was in Babel, or today – are scattered, yet man babbles on in our own self-serving ways.

And yet in spite of all that, God comes down for us just he did at Babel. In Genesis 11 he came down to see our inability to build. Our failure to create.

 

In the opening chapter of John’s Gospel we hear that God has come down again, this time in the clay of his own creation. The One who made man in His own image is made man for you, in order to redeem you and to restore you in God’s image once again.

 

It is this clay, the flesh and blood God-man, Jesus Christ, whom God uses to rebuild what we tore down so long ago. All of our babbeling, confused, chaotic, self-centered sinful ways are restored, reordered, redeemed, and rescued in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Christ crucified – He’s your cornerstone and builder.

 

And so on this day of Pentecost we remember and rejoice that God not only sent down His Son to save us, but now through His Son Jesus, He also sends down the Holy Spirit. That’s why Peter quotes the prophet Joel at Pentecost, as the apostles heard the rushing wind, as the tongues of fire appeared on their heads, and as the people gathered heard the gospel in their own language. And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh.

 

At Pentecost God builds the Church by His Spirit. He does the same for you too. God takes our hardened hearts of stone, softens the hard-packed clay of our sinful hearts with baptismal water and breathes the breath of life in us sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. By His Spirit, God builds you into the Church.

 

As God did in creation, so too, today, God speaks his saving will to you and all your sins are forgiven. As God once breathed the breath of life into Adam and he became a living human being, so too, he breathes the breath of His life-giving Spirit into you by water and the word. He places his saving name upon you as His Spirit descends. As God took a rib from the side of Adam and built his bride, Eve, so too, out of the pierced side of Christ crucified, our second Adam, God has fashioned and built you into His holy bride, the Church. The blood and water flow from the temple of his body into the font to regenerate and rescue you, into the chalice to save, sanctify, and satisfy you in the forgiveness of sins.

 

As God once scattered the nations at the Tower of Babel, now by His Spirit, God calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies you here in His Church, the house that God built. Here God builds you on the Rock of Christ crucified and risen, not the shifting sands of our sinful hearts.

 

And by this same Holy Spirit, who was present at creation, who descended upon Jesus in the Jordan River, who was promised by Christ, and finally sent by Christ, and poured out upon the Church at Pentecost. By this same Spirit of God, God builds the nations into the Church. God speaks his will in every language, as we heard in Acts 2, and in Revelation, as we see all nations and tribes and languages around the throne of the Lamb. God uses us, his clay vessels to proclaim the saving Name of Jesus. That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’

 

Every house has a builder, and the builder of the Church is God. That’s why we rejoice this Pentecost day. You are built on the rock of Christ crucified. Built by the Spirit for God’s own habitation. Built to last in Jesus. Built by God, by His Spirit, to be the Church.

 

A blessed Pentecost Sunday to each of you…

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

Sermon for Easter 7 – 5.29.22

+ 7th Sunday of Easter – May 29th, 2022 +

Series C: Acts 1:12-26; Revelation 22:1-20; John 17:20-26

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“A Trinitarian Soliloquy”

 

Alleluia! Christ is risen!

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

The famous Bard of Avalon, the playwright, William Shakespeare, introduced theater goers to the soliloquy. It was the part of his play where a character reveals their inner thoughts and feelings; a revealing inner dialogue made public. Like when Hamlet speaks his famous line, “To be or not to be.”

 

Long before Shakespeare came on the stage in the 16th century, John recorded a much greater, soliloquy of sorts here in John 17. Jesus’ High Priestly prayer, however, isn’t an inner dialogue where Jesus was talking to himself or thinking out loud. No. It’s a Trinitarian soliloquy. When Jesus prays he prays to the Father. And along the way, especially here in John 17, he reveals a great deal about the inner dialogue and relationship of God the Father and God the Son.

 

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

 

This is where today’s reading begins. When we hear these words we’re walking into a holy conversation between God the Father and God the Son. Like all conversations, Jesus’ prayer in John 17 has a context. In verses 1-5, Jesus prays for himself. Verses 6-19, Jesus prays for his disciples; his apostles. Here in verses, 20-26, Jesus prays for the Church. For you.

 

The wider context of Jesus prayer is important too. Jesus’ relationship and communion with the Father is a huge part of John’s gospel. Jesus is the way to the Father. To see and hear Jesus is to see and hear the Father. Jesus reveals and makes known the Father’s love. Jesus also reminds us that, beyond John’s gospel, this prayer is a glimpse into an eternal conversation and relationship that he shares with the Father from all eternity, from before the foundation of the world.

 

And yet, here’s what’s remarkable about Jesus’ prayer. Jesus is both the eternal Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, as we confess in the Creed, and yet, he is also deeply personal. Jesus the Great High Priest, the crucified, risen, ascended and reigning king of creation prays for you.

 

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.

 

Jesus prays for you to believe in Him through their message. Who’s message? The apostles’ message, word, teaching. Logos. And the apostles’ word came from Jesus who is the Word made flesh. When you hear the word of Jesus the Word made flesh you are hearing the Father’s very voice of compassion, grace, and mercy.

 

It is Jesus’ word, he says in this prayer, that holds us together with him. Like the center hub of a wheel, Jesus’ word is the center around which our life, faith, church, and everything we have revolves. Christian unity is in Christ’s word, and only in his word, not in politics, preferences, or personal opinions. Only in the word, teaching, and life of Jesus. That’s why as Lutherans we pay such close attention to what God’s word says and teaches us.

 

Jesus goes on to pray. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.

 

Glory is another important word in John’s gospel. The word “glory,” in Jesus’ teaching in John’s gospel is the opposite of what we think; not power, fame, might – but his crucifixion. That’s where and when the Son is glorified, dying on the cross to save you. That is where the Son also glorifies the Father by laying down his life to save you. His selfless, self-giving love for you glorifies the Father.

 

And it is this glory – Jesus’ innocent suffering for us the guilty, his sacrificial death to cover our sin – this is what brings unity, brings us to be one with the Father. No accident that when Jesus says “It is finished” on the cross, he’s using the same word he uses here in 17:23. His crucifixion is what brings us perfect fulfillment and completion. One in Christ crucified for you.

 

Like the Shakespearian soliloquy, Jesus’ prayer reveals God’s inner desires and thoughts. His passion, zeal, and inner most desire is to save you, and to save the world by grace in the dying and rising of His Son. Or as Jesus says, that the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

 

This is why Jesus was sent. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 

 

Jesus is the Father’s Sent One for you. Sent in his incarnation in the womb of the Virgin Mary to become flesh for you. Sent to Bethlehem in the manger to be born for you. Sent to the Jordan River and throughout Judea to live for you. Sent to the cross and into the grave and out again for you. Sent to teach you and reveal God’s love to you, and yes, to pray for you. In Jesus you know the Father. And through Jesus, the Father knows you. In Jesus the love the Father has for him is also for you.

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus’ language of unity, oneness, here in John 17 echoes much of the Old Testament, especially God’s promise through Ezekiel, that God himself would be the shepherd of His people. So there would be one flock, one shepherd. So that we who were lost and scattered and wandering in our sin would be found, gathered, and returned to the Father through Jesus’ dying and rising. One in Christ. One with the Father through Christ.

This is the kind of unity we get a glimpse of in another one of John’s writings, Revelation 22. In this final chapter of John’s Revelation, we see a preview of what Jesus was praying for in John 17.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lambdown the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.

 

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sermon for Easter 6 – 5.22.22

+ 6th Sunday of Easter – May 22nd, 2022 +

Series C: Acts 16:9-15; Revelation 21:9-14, 21-27; John 16:23-33

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Praying in Jesus’ Name”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Growing up I always enjoyed looking through those big books of cutaway illustrations. The kind of book where the illustrator takes an airplane, submarine, or castle, and draws a cutaway picture, so you can see how the thing works, the inner workings, and so on.

 

And while this isn’t a perfect analogy, something like that is going on in John 16 today. As Jesus is teaching his disciples in the upper room before his crucifixion on Good Friday, he spends a good amount of time on his relationship with the Father. Again, not a perfect analogy but Jesus’ words give us a kind of cutaway into the inner workings of the Trinity; a glimpse into the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, and how God relates to us through His Son, Jesus.

 

Throughout this section of John, Jesus teaches us who God is, as Father; who we are, as his children; and how we live, by his grace, and how we approach the Father through faith in Jesus’ dying and rising for you.

 

And in that day, Jesus says, you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

 

To what day is Jesus referring? The day mentioned in last week’s reading from the earlier part of John 16. The day where his disciples would not see him a little while and then after a little while they would see him again. That’s the “little while” of Jesus’ death and resurrection. That’s the day that brings joy in fullness for his disciples and for you.

 

It’s also the day when the relationship with God the Father, broken the fall of sin, and our sin, is restored. The day of Jesus’ death and the day of his resurrection is the day of our restoration, rescue, redemption, and reconciliation. As St. Paul says in 2 Corinthians, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting our trespasses against us.

 

That all seems pretty clear and easy to understand. But not all of Jesus’ words here in John 16 are so clear and easy. Like when Jesus says to his disciples, “You will ask me nothing.” And yet in the very next sentence he tells them, “Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.”

 

What does that mean? What’s going on here? I thought the disciples ask Jesus for things all the time. True. They do. They just haven’t called upon God as Father yet, but Jesus is teaching them to do so. Remember, the Lord’s Prayer. What Jesus is revealing here, is that through His death and resurrection and ascension, through him, in faith and trust in his name, his disciples – and you – will address God as Father. Now in Jesus’ dying, rising, and ascending, you have access to God the Father.

 

Before Jesus’ dying and rising, in the Old Testament, access to God came by way of the Tabernacle and Temple. By way of the blood of the sacrifices. Now, in the New Testament, in Jesus the Tabernacle and Temple, and Priest and Sacrifice all rolled into one. Now the disciples, and you, come before the Father washed in the blood of the Lamb, made clean and clothed in Christ.

 

And so here, our Lord Jesus, teaches us something profound about God and our relationship to Him. God is our Father. Through Jesus we have the honor of calling upon him as Father. And this is no small thing. Jesus’ words reveal that God is Father, that we approach him as Father. Or as Luther says in the Small Catechism, when we pray “Our Father,” we are praying that, “God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that we may ask Him confidently with all assurance, as dear children ask their dear father.”

 

This only happens because God has come to be our Father in Christ. Only because Christ has taken our sins upon himself and wiped them out by his victorious death we can stand before God, forgiven, His children in Christ. Only as we are bound to Christ can we come before God as His children, for the God sees us in Christ, wearing the garments of Christ’s righteousness. This is the key to who we are in relationship with God the Father. All contact and prayer with the Father is in Jesus, in Jesus’ name, that is in faith in him. Prayer only arises from faith in Christ. And apart from Christ and His atoning, redeeming work, God is no one’s Father.

 

And so Jesus’ words teach us a great deal about who we are as well. We come before God as children. Beggars. Entirely, utterly, completely dependent upon His grace and mercy in Jesus. Jesus teaches his disciples, and us, that faith in Him also means a rejection of ourselves. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling. Not I, but Christ. We come as beggars before God and have no right to ask anything. For we are neither worthy of the things for which we pray, nor have we deserved them, but we ask that God would give them all to us by grace. But that is precisely who God is, Jesus reveals. God is a gracious Father who sent His only Son to die for you. To bring you home. To make you his children by washing you in the blood of the Lamb. To reconcile you back to Him through His Son.

 

Jesus is also teaching us, and his disciples, to do here, what he taught earlier. How  to live as God’s children, that we live every breath, every minute, every hour, every day by God’s grace to us in Christ. So we pray, Our Father, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. We pray in Jesus’ name. Everything goes through Jesus. Our redemption and reconciliation, and our prayers.

 

To pray in the Name of Jesus, then, isn’t some kind of magic formula or incantation. As in, dear Lord I really want a fully loaded 4×4 Jeep…in Jesus’ Name, and I expect to get it. No. To pray in the Name of Jesus is to pray in faith in Jesus. To pray “God’s will be done, not mine.” To pray with all the totality of who Jesus is and what he has done for us. To pray in Jesus’ name is to ask the Father on the basis of everything Jesus has done in his life, death, and resurrection. It is to pray to the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit.

 

It is in Jesus’ Name that you are saved. It is in Jesus’ Name that you are reconciled to God and call him Father. It is in Jesus’ Name and death and resurrection that your joy is full. It is in Jesus’ name that you pray with all boldness and confidence as dear children asking their heavenly Father – in view of everything he is and does for us. And it is in Jesus’ Name that you live each day by God’s grace.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Sermon for 5th Sunday of Easter – 5.15.22

+ 5th Sunday of Easter – May 15th, 2022 +

Series C: Acts 11:1-18; Revelation 21:1-7; John 16:12-22

Beautiful Savior Lutheran

Milton, WA

 

“Two Kinds of Theologians”

 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Did you know that the church this morning is full of theologians? You might not think so. You might not consider yourself a theologian. But it’s true. Whether you’ve been to seminary or not, written great tomes or not, everyone has thoughts about God; everyone thinks something(s) about God. Everyone is a theologian.

 

The question isn’t how great, famous, or learned of a theologian we might be, but what’s our theology.

 

Looking at the Scriptures, and looking at fallen humanity, Martin Luther wisely observed that there are really only two kinds of theologians or two kinds of theologies in the world. Luther called these two different, contrasting theologies, a theology of glory and the theology of the cross.

 

A theology of glory expects the Christian life to be total success, having all the answers, winning all the battles, and living happily ever after. A theology of glory is all about my strength, my power, and my works.

 

The theology of the cross, by contrast, sees God’s greatest success revealed in suffering; His victory in the defeat of the cross. The theology of the cross is all about Christ’s strength made perfect in weakness, his power revealed in dying and rising.

 

A theology of glory says that when I am happy, healthy, and prosperous, I know God loves me. A theology of the cross says that God comes to me in my weakness and suffering and makes them his own on the cross.

 

Or to put it another way. A theology of glory wants Easter without Good Friday; the theology of the cross, however, doesn’t go around the cross to find God’s glory, but sees God’s glory in Jesus’ cross.

Or, to use Jesus’ words from John 16, a theology of glory desires joy without sorrow; a theologian of the cross, however, confesses that present sorrow gives way to future joy.

 

Here in John 16, Jesus gives his disciples, and us, a marvelous lesson on the theology of the cross.

 

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 

 

Present suffering, future glory. The cross, then resurrection. Sorrow, then joy. That’s the pattern for us theologians of the cross.

 

Paul says it this way: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Paul knew suffering. His life was marked by suffering – imprisonments, beatings, rejection by his own people, expulsion from the synagogue, antagonists and false teachers, congregation problems, health problems – you name it, Paul likely experienced it. Paul lived the theology of the cross.

 

So did St. John, exiled to the island of Patmos. His churches were under siege. Christians were being tortured and martyred. False teachers were worming their way into the churches deceiving Christians with their seductive lies. The fabric of society was coming apart at the seams. Government was corrupt, the family was weakened, immorality reigned. Everyone did whatever they thought was right in their own eyes. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

 

John lived the theology of the cross too. And in the midst of suffering, and for those who suffer, he points us to joy in Jesus who makes all things new. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Sorrow turned into joy.

As Jesus looked deeply into the faces of His disciples that night in the upper room at the table, He saw uncertainty, fear, doubt, sadness. Jesus was speaking of His impending death and resurrection. In a little while, they would no longer see Him. The stone would be rolled in front of his tomb and He would be seen no more. The world would rejoice as the disciples wept. They would be sorrowful. But their sorrow would turn to joy.

 

“Again, a little while, and you will see me.” They did see Him, risen from the dead. Good Friday anguish turned into Easter morning joy with the news, “Christ is risen”. And all the darkness and death of that previous Friday was swallowed up in joy and light. Jesus was alive.

 

When Jesus says, “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy”, Jesus isn’t saying that we’ll have so much joy in this life that we’ll forget all our sorrows. Or that joy is so going to cover up that sorrow, that you won’t have time to feel bad. No. Joy in Christ is not a distraction or gimmick. It’s Jesus actually addressing the very things that cause us so much pain, and grief, and sadness.

 

Luther described this life as a “vale of tears,” a valley of sorrow, what Psalm 23 calls “the valley of the shadow of Death”. There are certainly days where that rings true. Joy in this life feels fleeting. Peace seems temporary. Laughter seems to fade. We weep over our sin, our sinful condition, what sin has done to this world we live in. We weep over the hurt and harm that has been done to us and that we have done to one another. We weep over broken friendships, broken families, and broken lives. We weep over the state of the church, over the theologies of glory that have removed the cross from Christian lives, congregations, and doctrine. We weep over the loss of loved ones as we say farewell to them. There seems to be no end of sorrows in this life. Where, then, do we find joy?

 

In a word, Jesus. True joy is found in Jesus who takes all our sorrow, suffering, and sin upon himself and dies and rises for you. Joy in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Joy even in the midst of suffering.

 

Whatever it is that hurts. Whatever that is that makes you cry. Whatever it is that is too overwhelming to deal with. These are the very things Jesus went to the cross for. These are the very things Jesus died for. Jesus didn’t give these words to make us forget our sorrows. Jesus gave us these words so that we would know that it is okay to feel our sorrows. It’s okay to shed our tears. It’s okay to mourn our dead. It’s okay to cry out in our pain. Because those are the places where Jesus goes. Those are the things Jesus bears. Those are the times Jesus promises not to leave us alone.

 

For the same Lord Jesus who carried our sorrows on the cross, still dwells with us in our sorrows and our crosses. And this, he promises, will be turned to joy in him, in his cross, in his resurrection.

 

And in Jesus, your sorrow will turn into joy.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Beautiful Savior

is a traditional Lutheran Church, faithful to God's Word and His Sacraments. We equip God's people to serve, love, and encourage one another as we grow in our personal relationship with Christ. We reach out to the community as beacons of light, sharing the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Savior.

Church Office Hours

Monday - Thursday 8:30am-3:30pm

Friday 8:30am-11:30am

The office is closed on Fridays during the summer months of June, July, and August.

Preschool Office Hours

August - May
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
8:30am-12:30pm

By appointment only June and July

Contact

Address
2306 Milton Way
Milton, WA 98354
Phone
(253) 922-6977
Fax
(253) 922-6977