Summary: Jesus came in the power of the Spirit
Jesus and the Spirit December 2, 3 & 6 2007
When we looked at Jesus the Divine Son of God, one of the response questions was, “To you, what is the most compelling argument that Jesus is Divine?” When the question came around to me, I had to say that none of the arguments that I had just given was the most compelling. What most impacts my mind and heart was something that Bono (surprise, surprise) said in the video clip. “God so loved the world that he tried to explain himself to the world by becoming like us and I am so fascinated by the idea of the child born in, you know, “straw-poverty.” for me there is a poetic power to that. It is a remarkable story, the Christmas story, and, I … it never fails to amaze me.”
In my heart and mind it is my most compelling argument – the beauty of the incarnation. And the beauty of the Trinity, that God is three and God is one – that we worship a relationship.
I confessed that this was not a watertight intellectual argument, but my Scientist friend Andrew came to my aid and said that there are arguments in mathematics and physics that say that something is so beautiful, that it must be true.
I like that: because I do believe that the idea of the Trinity is so beautiful it must be true.
The Trinity, along with grace, is one of the major distinctives of the Christian faith. We do not believe in three Gods, we believe in one God who is three.
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus’ Baptism may be one of the most Trinitarian pieces of scripture there is. It is a beautiful scene: Jesus, the Son has come among us, and now, at the start of his ministry, he is baptized and all three persons of the Godhead show up at the very same time. The Son being obedient to the Father; The Father honouring the Son; and The Spirit empowering the whole scene.
From earliest days, Christians have had a triune faith. The earliest of creeds speaks of it:
I believe in the Father
I believe in the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Images of the Trinity
Christians believe in the Trinity, but we have a hard time explaining it.
We are told that Patrick introduced the idea of the Trinity to the pagan Irish through the Shamrock – its leaf is has three sections, and yet it is one leaf
Others have used an egg to describe the trinity – it is one cell, but it has the shell, the white and the yolk
Some people compare the Trinity to fire having a flame, giving off both heat and light.
These Illustrations might be helpful to get our minds around the idea of something being three and being one, but the analogies cannot be pushed too far before they break down.
The Egg and the Shamrock make God appear very static, and they do not express any idea of the personhood of the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit.
It is not that we need to find a new image, but more that we need to rediscover an old image.
Brian Mclaren writes in a passage about what Eastern Orthodoxy taught him about Jesus:
“I learned that the early church leaders described the Trinity using the term perichoresis (peri-circle, choresis-dance): the Trinity was an eternal dance of Father, Son and Spirit sharing mutual love, honour, happiness, joy and respect.
As I meditated on this Idea of the circle-dance of the trinity, this painting the Dave Chapman painted was always in my head. He painted it, not as a painting of the trinity, but as a painting of the children in our church. But it is an amazing image
Gregory of Nanzianzus captured the mystery of triune life using the image of dance (perichoresis)… The metaphor suggests moving around, making room, relating to one another without losing identity. The divine unity lies in the relationality of Persons, and the relationality is the nature of the unity. At the heart of this ontology is the mutuality and reciprocity among the Persons. Trinity means that shared life is basic to the nature of God. God is perfect sociality, mutuality, reciprocity and peace. As a circle of loving relationships, God is dynamically alive. There is only one God, but this one God is not solitary but a loving communion that is distinguished by overflowing life.