Skip to comments."The Father's Day--and the Son's, and the Holy Spirit's” (Sermon for the Holy Trinity, on Acts 2)
Posted on 06/15/2019 8:38:56 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
The Fathers Day--and the Sons, and the Holy Spirits (Acts 2:14a, 22-36)
Today is Fathers Day. No, wait, let me correct that. Today is The Fathers Day--and the Sons, and the Holy Spirits. What do I mean by that? Let me explain.
Today is the third Sunday in June, which in our country is Fathers Day. And thats a good thing. Its good for us to honor our fathers and our mothers. In fact, God put that right into the Ten Commandments. So on this day we honor our fathers for the gifts that they are, given to us by God, to be the channel of his blessing to us, to be a reflection of Gods own fatherly care and provision. We thank God for our fathers, and we honor them with this special day.
Now while our nation celebrates Fathers Day today, we in the church are celebrating The Fathers Day--and the Sons, and the Holy Spirits. Because today is the first Sunday after Pentecost, which means its Holy Trinity Sunday. Today we ponder and we rejoice in the trinitarian nature of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: God in three persons, blessed Trinity. Today is the one Sunday in the church year when we speak out loud the Athanasian Creed, the creed that goes into the most depth and detail on the doctrine of the Trinity. This is who God is. And this is who God is for us, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We see the triune God for us in our reading today from Acts chapter 2. This is in the midst of Peters Pentecost sermon, and woven into his preaching we see all three persons of the Trinity active on our behalf and for our salvation. This comes through most directly and explicitly in verses 32 and 33, where Peter says: This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. So here we have all three persons of the Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all involved and working together. God the Father, raising up his Son Jesus. This Jesus, exalted now at Gods right hand. And then Jesus, receiving from the Father the Holy Spirit, pouring out the Spirit on his disciples. Lets explore this a little more and see how it all applies to us.
This Jesus God raised up, Peter says. Peter here is speaking of God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. The relationship of the Father and the Son is woven throughout this sermon--specifically, in the will of the Father to send his Son into this world, to suffer and die and then be raised and exalted again, having completed his saving mission. You cannot talk about God the Father without talking about what he has done in and through his Son. The Son glorifies the Father, and the Father, in turn, glorifies his Son. Thats how it goes.
What has God the Father done in and through his Son? Peter gets there in his sermon by talking about the man who was on everybodys mind, namely, Jesus of Nazareth, who had just been killed there in Jerusalem--crucified, in fact--a couple of months earlier. It was a well-known case. It had been the buzz of the city at the time. And Peter says there was more going on there than his listeners had realized: Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know, etc.
So the works that Jesus did during his public ministry--healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the multitudes--these mighty works and wonders and signs attested to the fact that Jesus came from God. God was working through him. Jesus was operating with divine power and approval, bringing Gods mercy and help to people in distress. Jesus ministry bestowed unmistakably divine blessings, and that pointed to his identity as a man sent from God.
In spite of that, though, what happened? This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. Peter is telling them: You guys blew it! You should have known better. But instead of receiving him, you rejected Jesus and you even had him killed, crucified like a common criminal.
But at the same time Peter also is saying: This all happened according to Gods plan. Dont think that you were in charge of those events. Oh, you had your reasons for getting Jesus put to death, but God had reasons of his own. God used your hatred of Jesus for his own purposes, to achieve something very great, something that required the death of Gods own Son. This all happened, Peter says, according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.
Dear friends, what was that great purpose that required the death of Gods own beloved Son? It was your salvation. It was your forgiveness. Because you had blown it, too. Oh, maybe you were not there in Jerusalem, shouting out for Jesus to be crucified. But it was because of you that Jesus had to suffer and die. You see, it took the death of Gods own Son to be the atoning sacrifice for your sins. Your sins had separated you from God, and there was nothing you could do about it to make it right. This was too much for you to deal with. Only God could fix your problem. And that is why God the Father sent his Son in the flesh, so he could suffer and die as your perfect substitute. Jesus took the full punishment for all sinners, in all times and in places. Including you. Christs sacrificial death--the shedding of his holy blood on the cross, his innocent suffering and death--purchased and won your full, free forgiveness.
The proof of that then showed up in Christs resurrection. God raised him up, Peter says, for it was not possible for the Son of God to be held by death. God the Father approved so much of what his Son had done, by dying for the sins of the world, that he raised up Jesus, raising him from the dead, victorious on Easter Day.
That is what happened, and that is what the apostles preach: This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. That apostolic band there in Jerusalem had seen Jesus raised from the dead, bodily, over the forty days from his resurrection to his ascension. This was all part of the Father glorifying and exalting his Son, giving his stamp of approval to what Christ had accomplished, the mission for which he was sent.
Here we are getting to the great mystery of the person of Christ, that he is both true God and true man in one person. He is the Son of God from eternity, and now, from his incarnation on, he is also true man, who lived and died and rose again, who now has ascended into heaven and is seated the right hand of God the Father. That is who Jesus is. Theres a lot more going on with this man Jesus than you ever realized, Peter is telling the crowd.
Then Peter goes on to say that this fulfills the ancient psalm of David, in which the Lord God says to Davids Lord, the Messiah: Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. This Jesus, exalted to Gods right hand, now is ruling and governing all things with divine, royal authority. This is what it means to be seated at Gods right hand, the place of all honor and authority. And so Christ is victorious over all of his enemies--sin, death, the devil, hell--all defeated and conquered by our mighty Lord Jesus Christ. All that remains now is for the final outcome of that victory to become evident at the Last Day.
That is when God will raise up you, dear Christian, you who believe in Christ Jesus your Savior. You and I will share in Christs victory over death and the grave, the victory he graciously gives us. We will be raised from the dead unto life everlasting. Brothers and sisters, Christ Jesus has defeated your enemies for you! What wonderful news this is!
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified. This is the exaltation of Jesus, the God-man Savior. Because Gods Son came in the flesh, with a fully human nature--this is how Peter can say the Father made him Lord, exalting him to his right hand of power and authority. For the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, had all power and authority from eternity. In that respect, Christ didnt need to be given anything or made anything. But according to his human nature, Jesus is declared Lord and Christ, exalted and seated at the right hand of God.
Well, its Trinity Sunday, and so far weve spoken about the Father and the Son. But we havent said much yet about the Spirit. Peter does that now, as he speaks of the outpouring of the Spirit: Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he [Jesus] has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. You see, it all ties together. The exalted Son receives from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and then bestows the Spirit upon his church.
That is what happened at Pentecost, and it continues to this day. Jesus gives the Spirit to his church, to empower her preaching of the gospel, to bring salvation to untold millions of people around the world. This has been going on from the day of Pentecost, and it will continue to the day of Christs return. God is doing something magnificent in our day. He is actively rescuing sinners, giving us salvation, bringing us the saving gospel. You yourself are among those recipients. The Holy Spirit is at work through the ministry of the church, through the means of grace, Word and Sacrament, creating and nurturing faith in us and saving us for eternity. By the Spirits working we believe in our Savior Jesus Christ, we share in his victory. And by that same faith we know that we have a loving heavenly Father, who cares for us under all circumstances. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--the triune God, on our side. Its all good!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, today is Holy Trinity Sunday. This is the Fathers Day--and the Sons, and the Holy Spirits. Today we celebrate the triumph of the triune God! This is the feast of victory for our God! You know, the St. Louis Blues had a victory song, didnt they? Gloria. They won a cup. We will win a crown. And so weve got a victory song of our own--a greater Gloria, celebrating an even greater victory: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them. . . .
Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know--this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him,
I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.
Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,
The Lord said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.
Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.
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