“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:16 – 17)
Have you ever had the experience of seeing someone you have met before elsewhere or some time back, but when you see them again it is hard to place them? One instance of this stands out especially for me. Some years back, probably 3 or 4 years now, I had the opportunity to see my father. We had been leaving at other ends of the country and it was hard to arrange visits. I had last seen him when my children were quite young, so it had been some 20 years. We went to meet him at the airport, at first I was not sure it was him. It became certain when I put together an image I had of my grandparents at the age he is now. It was like seeing a melding of my paternal grandmother and grandfather, and I knew in that instant it was my dad! I imagine that is how the “doubting” disciples felt when they saw Jesus. Peering through his Glory and Divinity they saw the Jesus who had been their friend and companion, now “reborn” after having died.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Verses 18 – 20)
I had wondered why the framers of the RCL would have picked these verses for Trinity Sunday when it starts out with doubting and has traditionally been seen as the “Great Commission.” But reading my favorite commentator I see why it is a pivotal verse. By Jesus identifying that all authority is given to him, it is a statement that He/Jesus is now on par with the Lord God identified here as “the Father”. And as a part of the rite of baptism the invocation of both Jesus and the Lord God are to be used as well as the blessing of the Holy Spirit. As Barnes states, the Three Identities are to be used in equal measure confirming that is is One Source of baptism done under the Name of Three Aspects of the Divine – the Trinity.
What Barnes said was this [it is I who have capitalized the pertinent names, and excuse the non-inclusive language] – “The union of these three names in the form of baptism proves that the Son and Holy Spirit are equal with the Father. Nothing would be more absurd or blasphemous than to unite the name of a creature – a man or an angel – with the name of the ever-living God in this solemn rite. If Jesus was a mere man or an angel, as is held by many who deny His divinity, and if the Holy Spirit was a mere “attribute” of God, then it would have been the height of absurdity to use a form like this, or to direct the apostles to baptize people under them. How absurd would be the direction – nay, how blasphemous – to have said, “Baptize them unto God, and unto Paul, and unto the “wisdom or power” of God!” Can we believe that our Saviour would have given a direction so absurd as this? Yet, unless He Himself is divine, and the Holy Spirit is divine, Jesus gave a direction substantially the same as this. The form of baptism, therefore, has been always regarded as an unbreakable argument for the doctrine of the Trinity, or that the Son and Holy Spirit are equal with the Father. “
It pleases me more than I can say (or will say in this posting) that the concept of a Triune Divine is so widely recognized. It was what I was taught and grew into faith way. And I am overjoyed each year to write about it and discern the proofs of it. May you, beloved reader, celebrate that our Lord God is Diverse enough to cover all of our faith needs and wants! Shalom & Selah!