A love story

    The Holy Trinity, May 30, 2021


    Text: John 3:1–17

    Theme: A love story

    Other Lessons: Isaiah 6:1–8; Psalm 29; Acts
    2:14a, 22–36


    1. In the Name of
      the Father…Amen.


    1. The Gospel
      reading serves as our sermon text for this morning.


    1. Dear brothers
      and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
      • Merciful
        Father, You have given Your only Son as the sacrifice for sinners. Grant
        us grace to receive the fruits of His redeeming work with thanksgiving
        and daily to follow in His way; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who
        lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.


    1. Grace, mercy,
      and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus
      Christ. Amen.




    1. “For God so
      loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him
      should not perish but have eternal life” (verse 16).


    1. Love is
      expressed by giving something of great value, and the greatest
      demonstration of love is to give one’s own life.
      1. A parallel to the love shown by giving oneself is the
        giving of one’s child for the sake of another.
      2. A
        profound act of love was shown when Abraham was willing to sacrifice his
        only son out of love for God.
      3. Abraham
        loved God in this way, that he was willing to give his only son, Isaac
        (Genesis 22:1–19).
      4. In
        a similar but infinitely greater way, God the Father demonstrates his
        love for the world by giving his one and only Son.
      5. In
        John 3:16 where we read that God “so” loved the world, the Greek word
        for “so” (hooto) does not mean “so much.”
        1. Instead it means “in this way”

      6. It
        is not that God loved the world
        so much that he gave his only Son
      7. Though,
        of course, he did!
      8. Thus
        John 3:16 is translated accurately with the wording “God loved the world
        this way
        , that he
        gave his one and only Son.”


    1. It is not a
      coincidence that John 3:16 is prefaced by a lengthy discussion on the
      work of the Holy Spirit.
      1. The Bible and the history of mankind are about this
        very thing:
        1. God showing his love for the world by giving his only
          Son, and the giving of his Son is entwined with the working of the Holy

      2. Throughout
        history, God indeed kept loving the world by giving his Son, and he
        always gives his Son in connection with the Holy Spirit.


    1. Thus, as God
      demonstrates his love for the world again and again, we see the doctrine
      of the Trinity conveyed.
      1. In summary, understanding the doctrine of the Trinity
        begins by realizing that there is but one God, one being, one essence.
      2. Yet
        there are three distinct persons—identified clearly in Scripture as
        Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
      3. Scripture
        informs us that each of these three persons is completely and fully God.
      4. Thus
        we can say of the Father, “There is no other God.”
      5. And
        we can say of the Son of God (as Luther does in his famous hymn, “A
        Mighty Fortress”), “There is no other God.”
      6. And
        we can say of the Holy Spirit, “There is no other God.”
      7. Still,
        as Scripture repeats, there is only one God, one being, one essence.


    1. We cannot
      begin to grasp the doctrine of the Holy Trinity on this side of heaven,
      yet we can only begin to understand God’s love for the world if we
      believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
      1. You will not find the word trinity in the Bible.
      2. Nonetheless,
        from the beginning to the end of Holy Scripture, you will find the
        doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
      3. You
        will find the doctrine of the Holy Trinity as you recognize that:
        1. At the
          Highlights of Salvation History, God Is Loving the World by Giving His
          Only Son, Entwined with the Working of the Holy Spirit.


    1. So the
      doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which we consider this Sunday in
      particular, isn’t some lifeless discussion you would only find in a
      1. Instead, it is a love story:


    1. God loved the world in this way: he gave his Son to create the


    1. In the
      beginning God (the Father) created the heavens and the earth (Genesis


    1. The Spirit,
      brooding over the waters, would breathe life into this watery world
      (Genesis 1:2).


    1. When God
      spoke, he was creating through his Son, with whom the world was designed
      to be uniquely intimate
      (Genesis 1:3; John 1:1–5; Hebrews
      1. When he [the Lord] established the heavens, I [the Son
        of God] was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
         (28)  when he made firm the skies above, when he established
        the fountains of the deep,  (29)  when he assigned to the sea
        its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he
        marked out the foundations of the earth,  (30)  then I was
        beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight,
        rejoicing before him always,  (31)  rejoicing in his inhabited
        world and delighting in the children of man.


    1. Transition
      1. Man rejected God’s loving gifts of this creation, and
        thus man ceased to be intimately associated with the Son of God, who
        walked in the garden of paradise.
      2. In
        rejecting God, man became the “walking dead,” citizens of Satan’s domain
        (Ephesians 2:1–2).
        1. Dead in our trespasses and sins.
        2. The
          devil is our best friend.


    1. After man’s fall into sin, God loved the world in this way: he
      gave his Son in the promise of salvation.


    1. In his love,
      the Father promised a seed of a woman to conquer Satan (Genesis 3:15).
      1. The first gospel.


    1. The Son is the
      heart of God’s word of promise (John 5:39).
      1. You search the Scriptures because you think that in
        them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.


    1. The Spirit
      inspired the prophets to foresee the beau­tiful Savior, the one who
      fulfills God’s promise
      (1 Pet 1:10–11; 2 Pet 1:21; Isaiah
      1. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man,
        but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.


    1. Transition
      1. By God’s loving promise of the Savior, the Spirit
        powerfully breathed faith and hope into his ancient people’s hearts.
      2. Theirs
        was an Old Testament faith that trusted in the coming Savior and a hope
        that yearned for life eternal.


    1. To save fallen man,
      as promised, God loved the world in this way: he gave his Son to become


    1. The Father sent his Son into this world (John 3:17;
      1. Jesus said to them, “If God
        were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.
        I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.


    1. The Spirit caused the incarnation in the womb of Mary
      (Matthew 1:20)
      1. But as he considered these
        things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,
        “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that
        which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.


    1. The Word (the Son) became flesh (John 1:14).
      1. And we have seen his glory,
        glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.


    1. Transition
      1. The world did not recognize or
        accept the Son of God with whom there was to be intimacy.


    1. They so rejected him that they
      purposed to kill this Son of the vineyard owner
      (John 1:10;
      Mt 21:37–39)
      1. He was in the world, and the
        world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.
      2. Finally he sent his son to
        them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’  (38)  But when the
        tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come,
        let us kill him and have his inheritance.’  (39)  And they
        took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.

    2. Yet,


    1. God loved the world
      in this way: he gave up his only Son on the cross to save the fallen


    1. To save his haters, the Father willed that his Son be
      given into their hands (Luke 22:42).
      1. “Father, if you are willing,
        remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”


    1. The Spirit guided the Son to obey the Father and be
      lifted up on the cross (John 3:14).
      1. Jesus trusted the
        Spirit-inspired promises of the Old Testament
        1. Was it not necessary that the
          Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
           (27)  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he
          interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning


    1. Jesus trusted the Spirit as the
      Spirit led him into the wilderness of Satan’s domain
      (Matthew 4:1).
      1. Then Jesus was led up by the
        Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.


    1. The Son submitted to his Father’s command and thus was
      crucified and raised again, winning salvation for fallen mankind (John
      1. For this reason the Father
        loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
         (18)  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own
        accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it
        up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”


    1. Then God loved the
      world in this way: he gave his Son to save us by faith.


    1. The Father desires that we be saved by believing in him
      whom he has sent
      (John 3:15–16; 6:29).
      1. “This is the work of God, that
        you believe in him whom he has sent.”


    1. Believing in the Son who for us died and rose again is
      the heart of Christianity
      (1 Corinthians 15:1–3).
      1. Now I would remind you,
        brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which
        you stand,  (2)  and by which you are being saved, if you hold
        fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
         (3)  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I
        also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the


    1. By the Spirit’s power, we are given to believe in Jesus (1 Corinthians
      1. Therefore I want you to
        understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is
        accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.


    1. God continues to
      love the world in this way: he gives his Son to sinners through the Word
      and Sacraments.


    1. The Father established the Word and Sacraments that we
      become his children in Christ
      (Acts 2:37–42; Galatians
      1. for in Christ Jesus you are
        all sons of God, through faith.  (27)  For as many of you as
        were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


    1. The preaching and bestowal of the Sacraments convey
      Christ, our Savior
      (1 Corinthians 1:18; Rom 6:3–5; 1 Cor 11:23–26).
      1. For the word of the cross is
        folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is
        the power of God.


    1. The Holy Spirit, as of old, still works through the
      preached and sacramental Word to bring new birth and faith
      3:5–8; 1 Peter 1:20–23;
      Romans 10:17).
      1. So faith comes from hearing,
        and hearing through the word of Christ.


    1. Finally, God loves
      the world in this way: he will give his Son to call believers to
      1. The Father has given all judgment to his Son (John
        1. For as the Father raises the
          dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.
           (22)  For the Father judges no one, but has given all
          judgment to the Son,


    1. The Son of God will return to this world and speak the
      dead to life (John 5:26–29).
      1. For as the Father has life in
        himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.
         (27)  And he has given him authority to execute judgment,
        because he is the Son of Man.  (28)  Do not marvel at this,
        for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice
         (29)  and come out, those who have done good to the
        resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection
        of judgment.


    1. The Spirit will give immortal life to our formerly
      mortal bodies (Romans 8:11).
      1. If the Spirit of him who
        raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus
        from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his
        Spirit who dwells in you.




    1. There are many
      unexplained phenomena in nature.
      1. For instance, there’s something called Quantum
      2. Scientists
        at Stanford University have discovered that one atom can be found
        simultaneously in two different places, even connected miles apart!
      3. Albert
        Einstein once called this “spooky action.”
      4. Sound
      5. Indeed,
        wild beyond our imagination!
      6. Science
        has shown that when something travels extremely fast in relation to
        another thing, time actually slows down for the thing that is traveling
        really fast.
      7. We’re
        not talking about clocks, but we are talking about time itself.
      8. Sound
      9. Indeed,
        beyond our imagination!


    1. Should not the
      Creator of such things be even more incomprehensible?
      1. If the nature of atoms or time can be outside our
        thinking, does it not make sense that the very nature of God is outside
        our comprehension?
      2. Truly,
        this is the nature of our triune God.
      3. Holy
        Scripture, not science, reveals that there is but one God, one being,
        one essence.
      4. Yet
        Scripture reveals that, beyond our comprehension, there are three
        distinct persons, each person different from the other two, yet each
        person being 100 percent God.


    1. So we shall
      know our God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—into eternity.
      1. The Father will eternally love us, as into eternity he
        yet gives his Son, who—as a man conceived by the Holy Spirit—will
        continue to dwell with us uniquely, feasting with us in the heavenly
        mansions forever. Amen.


    1. Let us pray:
      • O
        heavenly Father, grant that our lives may be ones of vivid testimony to
        Your sacrificial and faithful love in Christ. Amen.


    1. 2 Corinthians
      13:14  The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and
      the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


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


    1. In the Name of
      the Father…Amen.