Audio file. Below, notes only.
John 3.1-17, Trinity Sunday, Learning Center, Graduation
Trinity Sunday & mystery
3 persons, 1 God – co-eternal
Like explaining a joke – it’s no longer funny
Like showing how a magic trick is done – it’s no longer amazing
"How?", asked twice
"How can anyone be born after having grown old?" (3.4)
"How can these things be?" (3.9)
focus on the mechanics misses the mystery (jokes, magic)
as an expression of unbelief: John Crysostom, "You call him ‘Master’ and say that he ‘comes from God’, and yet you do not receive his words but utilize a word with your master that brings in endless confusion. For the ‘how’ is the doubting question of those who have no strong belief and are still earthbound" (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT IV a, John1-10, p111).
Mystery: Proverbs 30:18-19 Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: 19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a girl.
The greatest mysteries defy "how?" and remain a mystery
Humble (or humbled) before mystery
The religious expert is astonished. "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand?" (3.10)
Avoiding the mystery, asking the mechanical question "how", allows us to remain "masters" rather than be humble before the Master.
Avoiding the mastery, not wanting to be mastered by the command "you MUST be born from above" (3.7) or mastered by the promise "enter the kingdom of God" (3.5) and "be born of the Spirit" (3.6)
Augustine: "Do we think that the Lord meant to insult this master of the Jews? The Lord knew what he was doing. He wanted the man to be born of the Spirit. No one is born of the Spirit if he is not humble . . . . Jesus pulled down his pride so that he might be born of the Spirit" (ACCS, NT IV a, John1-10, p 118).
Nicodemus – I’ve got a good life, why do I need to start over? It is not about how good or bad our life is, but whether or not we want God’s.