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Holy Trinity / Mission Festival

June 12, 2017

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Holy Trinity                                      Zion St. John Lutheran Church

11 June 2017                                     Wisner, NE

Mission Festival


Matthew 28:16-20


In 1861, at least to the best of my knowledge, the first Bataks in Sumatra were baptized. Then in 1862 the missionary pastor Ludwig Nommensen (1834-1918) arrived from the Rhenish Mission Society. Putting his life in enormous jeopardy he baptized and taught. Humanly speaking, making disciples of hardcore unbelievers (even cannibals) is dicey work. Can you imagine? I can’t. Mission work is not just dicey but it looks to be impossible at least from our perspective.


Nonetheless, the Lord had good use of Pastor Nommensen. Just as He did with the eleven. And with many more over the centuries and even today until the end of time. Jesus makes disciples of all nations. He does that gargantuan task through the church and through His ministers that serve in the church. Those He sends to make disciples of all nations are nothing but His instruments. Not much confidence in them. Can’t rely on them. They’re sinners. Remember, among the eleven were worshipers who also doubted. Remember Thomas (Jn 20)?


But with he Lord Jesus – that’s a whole different matter, isn’t it? Of course! After all, He is the One who defeated death and the devil – who shed His Blood to atone for all sin. All-Authority-In-Heaven-And-On-Earth-Jesus gives His promise: “Lo I am with you.” What He mandates to be done He does. He’s doing it. Most certainly. Most surely. So, based on the divine promise of “Lo, I am with you,” the eleven, Nommensen and all preachers like a Mayes or a Kuhlman do what they’ve been given to do and leave the rest up to the Lord Jesus. Some plant. Some water. But God gives the growth. When and where it pleases Him in those who hear the gospel.


So Pastor Nommensen did the Lord’s work. And when Nommensen died in 1918 the Batak church had 34 pastors, 788 teacher/preachers and 180,000 members in more than 500 congregations. Now there are over 4.5 million baptized Christians in Indonesia. What the Lord Jesus started with the eleven there over 2 billion Christians in the world. The baptizing and teaching continues until Judgment Day. All according to the Lord’s bidding in Matthew 28. All done according to the Lord’s “all authority in heaven and on earth” given to Him.


The Lord’s “all authority” emerges in the full light of His resurrection from the grave. It is the same authority by which He was sent to “save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21) and to forgive sin — Matthew 9. To the paralytic Jesus audaciously declared: “Take heart my son; your sins are forgiven.” Remember that? Everyone was amazed at that authority to forgive sins on earth. Then there’s Matthew 16 and Matthew 18 – the authority of the office of the keys – “whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven!” Christ’s authority is the authority to save. To save sinners! You. Me. The Batak people. The world. So He goes and does a Good Friday. He who knew no sin was made to be sin (2 Cor 5). The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Is 53). In His crucified Body He carried the sin of all. No sin or no sinner left out. Can you name a sinner He didn’t die for? Can you give me a sin He left out of His Good Friday on the cross death? Of course not!


There at Calvary Jesus, the divine Son of the Father and human son of the Virgin Mary gets numbered with the transgressors. He bears the full hellacious penalty of damnation incurred by the sin of the world. Made to be a curse (Gal 3:13)! Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world as He crucifixion-ly offers His divine Body and Blood as the only atoning sacrifice that purifies or cleanses sinners from their sin.


Risen from the dead – on the third day – and the first day of the week a new creation dawned. The resurrection of Jesus marks the beginning of a new creation. Just as light first shone into the darkness on the first day of the old creation, so the Light – the light of Christ breaks through the darkness of the world’s death. In the resurrection of Jesus a new creation has broken through even as the old is passing away. Consequently, the risen Lord Jesus sees to it that what He won on the cross gets delivered, bestowed, given to those for whom He died.


So, the eleven meet the Lord as He instructed. He comes to them. In Matthew 28 All-Authority-In-Heaven-and-On-Earth-Jesus mandates baptizing and teaching. It’s for the delivery of His Good Friday salvation. It’s how disciples from all nations are made. Baptizing and teaching is how the Lord Jesus has a church. It’s how He does missions. It’s how He churches! He gathers sinners gathered around Himself through the preaching office they believe in Him. Hang on only to Him. Trust in Him for salvation.


Now, let me finish this sermon with a flurry on this Trinity / Mission Festival Sunday. Just a few more minutes regarding these words of the Lord: “baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Of course, all you see is a man’s hand splashing the water or the man’s voice speaking the words. Nevertheless, it is God’s hand that is baptizing. It is God’s voice that you hear. “Lo I am with you.” With the giving of the Triune Name in baptism the Holy Trinity is there. After all, as the Large Catechism teaches: To be baptized in the Triune Name of God is to be baptized by God Himself.


But this is not just a generic or static presence of God. With the bestowing of His divine Name in baptism the Holy Trinity rolls up His sleeves and acts and promises to be GOD FOR YOU. The Triune God does not live for Himself. He does not exist for Himself. He lives outside of Himself and He exists FOR YOU.


Consequently, anyone baptized in the Name of the Father has God as His Father. Anyone baptized in the Name of the Son receives all the benefits of the Son’s Good Friday redeeming death. Anyone baptized in the Name of the Holy Spirit receives the life-giving, life-sustaining power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Again, in Holy Baptism the Triune God is God FOR YOU! FOR YOUR SALVATION. Jesus promises: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk 16:16). His divine name is never a nothing! The divine Triune name saves. Saves sinners. Saves you.


Holy Baptism, then, is the gospel! The gospel of the Holy Trinity – three eternal Persons in one eternal Being – one Being in three Persons. The Holy Trinity gives. Gives salvation with His Divine Name.


Check it out. In the beginning the Father creates. The Spirit of God broods over the water. The Word of God, Jesus, speaks. The Father creates through the Word – Jesus – and through the Holy Spirit who is joined to the water. Now, get a load of this: creation and baptism are intimately connected with one another. Both are beginnings. The first Genesis – creation. The second, baptism – new creation. Both the work and gift of God the Father through the Son in the Spirit with the water.


This is precisely why Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3 that in order to be born from above or born again once must be born of water and of the Spirit – holy baptism! Therefore, St. Paul categorically writes in Titus 3: God saved you through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit! That’s holy baptism! Baptism done in the Triune Name – Matthew 28!


So 2 Corinthians 5 teaches: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”


To be baptized in the Triune Name is to be brought to a new beginning. A very good miraculous and astonishing new creation spelled F-A-I-T-H. This is what is means to be a human being. The righteous live by faith (Rom 1:16)! Like Adam and Eve before the fall into sin. Faith in the Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit who forgives you, cleanses you, feeds you, brings you order and peace until that day when He raises you from your graves and the Holy Trinity will once again say just like in the beginning: “very good.”


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




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