Into The Trinity

It is with some sense of fear and hesitancy that this entry is written. The nature of our Creator is revealed through the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures as “Trinitarian”. How can we speak of One so complex and powerful, Creator of the vast unseen universe of matter, from super-galactic to sub-atomic? In order to accommodate our limited ability to reason and sense, He reveals Himself as Trinitarian in nature. It’s probably woefully incomplete and simplistic, but it suits His purpose.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 1:1-3 NASB

The writer of the letter to the Hebrews has the daunting task of describing our relationship with a single Divine Substance revealed in three Persons. And so we are left with dizzying references to an “exact representation of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3), and then the “Author of Salvation” being subjected to suffering (Hebrews 2:10) by Someone. How is it possible for the Divine Substance to suffer punishment without some outside entity subjecting Him to such suffering? It’s an impossible task the writer has undertaken.

But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Hebrews 2:9-11 NASB

In Hebrews, chapter 1, Jesus is the exact representation of the substance of the Creator. He is superior to any created thing, including angels. And He is, Himself, Creator. Then, in chapter 2, the writer turns to the topic of how this exact representation of God’s substance is also Savior. As He is described as the Agent of Creation, He now becomes the Agent of Salvation. The precisely indistinguishable Persons of Father and Son are described as the One subjecting, and the One suffering.

Paul had the same struggle. How do you describe the Divine Substance as becoming something else without “emptying” (Philippians 2:7)? The struggle for the writer of Hebrews is to answer the questions: 1) How can this Divine Substance then be both Father and Son unless He is multiple Persons? And, 2) How are these multiple Persons One? And yet, Jesus is an exact duplicate of God (Hebrews 1:3). So, Jesus is both a Brother to His human creatures (2:11), and their Creator (1:2), being both simultaneously.

If you are honest, you may find yourself in the same place Nicodemus found himself while speaking with Jesus, asking “How can these things be?” How can they be? Simply put, they simply are; how is irrelevant, immaterial, and a futile search. The Creator of the universe is necessarily complex and powerful. Why would we expect Him to somehow fit neatly into our limited view? A Divine Substance with three Persons is a fair representation of One of whom we have no hope of understanding fully.

And so, like the writer of Hebrews, we too struggle on to grapple with explaining how we can have a relationship with such a One. Perhaps, like Andrew, our response should be to the questioning Nathaniel’s of the world, “Come and see.” We can’t explain it, we live it. And invite others to experience the reality of Him for themselves.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation


Passion Week XVIII

Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.”  They said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare it?”  And He said to them, “When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters.  And you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘  And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there.”  And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.  (Luke 22:7-13 NASB)

While tempting, I’m not going to delve into the timing of the Last Supper of Jesus.  There’s lots of debates, and I tend to favor John’s timing which appears to differ with the other three writers, and there I stop…this morning.  Instead I want to again visit the use of knowing everyone and everything that Jesus has.  Back in Luke 19:28-35, Jesus just knows where a certain colt would be tied, to whom it belonged, and that it would be agreeable to them for Him to use it.  He already knew that.  Lots of possible explanations exist, but none are given.  We’re left with no natural explanation leaving the spiritual explanations (i.e. Jesus’ deity) open for application.

We are confronted with the humanity of Jesus throughout the four Gospels, and yet, in each, we also glimpse the divinity.  I think this is too important to miss, that Jesus exemplifies both qualities simultaneously.  Because Jesus knows what’s coming in an intimate and very personal way we can’t imagine or experience ourselves.  He is at once aware of the present, but also of the past and future (too an extent – He says He doesn’t know when He will return).  He knows the house, and the people in it where they will celebrate His last Passover.

The point I’m trying to bring out here is the tendency that perhaps I’m alone in, where I only think of Jesus in one way.  Either I don’t allow for His humanity (physical weaknesses) or I don’t allow for His deity (co-existence with God in human form).  And yet these simultaneous realities are absolutely necessary for what’s about to happen.  The practical application for me is that Jesus already knows what I’m going to face today, so I don’t have to worry.  On the other hand, the duality of Jesus where we have the Trinity located together in a physical body, at least in a sense, will define the crucifixion and resurrection.  It’s that power of the resurrection that enables me to face this day and glorify Him.  It’s all connected, the strange theological construct to help understand Jesus and what I do today.  I can’t divorce them from each other thinking one is “spiritual” and one is “physical”.  That’s the ridiculous thinking Paul addresses in several letters to churches.

So, that Jesus knows about a guy with a pitcher, a house, and that the household manager has an available room is important.  However He knew that, spiritual or natural, He knew.  Just as He knew Judas would betray Him, just as He knew Peter would deny Him, just as He knew the disciples would scatter, just as He knew He would rise up afterwards.  He knew, going in, He knew.  That the extreme physical torture wasn’t a surprise should really give us pause.  How many of us would voluntarily go there?  That the excruciating death of crucifixion was coming after the other torture should shock us.  And in John we’re told Jesus goes willingly, almost dragging the guards along behind Him so driven to this experience is our Savior.  In John, no one wants this more than Jesus.  And just as He knew about a guy with a jar of water entering Jerusalem, so He knew about the scourge and the nails and the suffocation to come.  Are you weeing yet?  This stuff destroys me.

What’s your view through the fence this morning?  It’s just a guy with a water jar, but what does it mean to you?


Jesus and Prayer…Why?

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.    And when day came, He called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them, whom He also named as apostles: (Luke 6:12,13 NASB)

It seems that Jesus had quite a crowd of devoted followers around Him by this time in His ministry.  There was a great crowd of them when He descends to the plain.  But in Acts we are told that there were enough followers who were with Jesus from His baptism that they needed a selection process.  Paul says there were over 100 in the upper room where Jesus appears to the disciples after His resurrection.  I think it’s an error to think there were only twelve guys on the road with Jesus.

Continue reading “Jesus and Prayer…Why?”