The Holy Trinity
First Sunday after Pentecost
May 30, 2010
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8 (2)
Prayer of the Day
Almighty Creator and ever-living God: we worship your glory, eternal Three-in-One, and we praise your power, majestic One-in-Three. Keep us steadfast in this faith, defend us in all adversity, and bring us at last into your presence, where you live in endless joy and love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
God of heaven and earth, before the foundation of the universe and the beginning of time you are the triune God: Author of creation, eternal Word of salvation, life-giving Spirit of wisdom. Guide us to all truth by your Spirit, that we may proclaim all that Christ has revealed and rejoice in the glory he shares with us. Glory and praise to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.
Alleluia. Holy, holy, holy is the | Lord of hosts;
God's glory fills | the whole earth. Alleluia. (Isa. 6:3)
1a. CONTEXT: John 16:12-15
The Gospel for this Sunday consists of a portion of
the great Johannine Last Discourse of Jesus to his
disciples before his death. The Discourse itself runs
from 13:31 to 17:26. Both the Last Supper and the
Discourse are sections in what Father Raymond Brown terms
John's Book of Glory which comprises chapters 13 through
21. The other sections of the Book of Glory are the
Passion Narrative (chapters 18 and 19) and portions
entitled The Risen Jesus (chapter 20) and Epilogue
Fr. Brown gives our text the title, "The Paraclete as
Guide of the Disciples." In the perplexing manner of the
Johannine discourse, our text echoes some of the things
that Jesus has said earlier in 13:31-14:31. Brown
believes that the duplication is the result of an
editorial combination of several Last Discourses that were
circulated in different Johannine communities. If this is
so, we may deal with our text discreetly in relative
independence to that which precedes and follows. At the
same time, we would do well to heed Brown's concluding
remark in his introduction to the Discourse: "None of
this [the manner of composition and apparent incoherence]
should prevent the reader from recognizing that the Last
Discourse is one of the greatest compositions in religious
literature. The one who speaks here speaks as no man has
spoken." (p. 582)
1b. TEXT: John 16:12-15
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV) © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
12Ἔτι πολλὰ ἔχω ὑμῖν λέγειν, ἀλλ' οὐ δύνασθε βαστάζειν ἄρτι: 13ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ἐκεῖνος, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ὁδηγήσει ὑμᾶς ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ πάσῃ: οὐ γὰρ λαλήσει ἀφ' ἑαυτοῦ, ἀλλ' ὅσα ἀκούσει λαλήσει, καὶ τὰ ἐρχόμενα ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν. 14ἐκεῖνος ἐμὲ δοξάσει, ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται καὶ ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν. 15πάντα ὅσα ἔχει ὁ πατὴρ ἐμά ἐστιν: διὰ τοῦτο εἶπον ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λαμβάνει καὶ ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition © 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: John 16: 12-15
In the first section of the Gospel of John, Jesus has
been speaking for the most part either to hostile
audiences or to individuals and groups that have
difficulty comprehending his message. In the Book of
Glory (chapters 13-21) he turns to speak to his own, this
is, his beloved friends, the disciples whom he had chosen
and who would be his witnesses after his departure.
That Jesus would depart was a subject that filled the
disciples' hearts with fear. Jesus addresses the fear by
assuring his followers that what looms as an unbearable
loss will paradoxically turn out to be the generator of
rich promise. The essence of the promise is the coming of
the Spirit, the Paraclete, who will more than compensate
for the removal of Jesus from the company of the
In taking to themselves Jesus' recorded words,
readers of the Gospel and those who hear the Gospel
preached from it receive the same comfort as did the
disciples. The Last Discourse is composed not only as a
word to the Twelve but to Christians throughout the
The special import of our text for this day, however,
is the way it leads us into the fundamental dogma of the
Church on the Trinity of God. Observing the context in
which the text appears, a word of Jesus to his own, will
help to avoid making the Trinity an arcane exercise in
theological speculation. The text's implicit Trinitarian
theology is an invitation into the life and being of the
God whom the Spirit has made known in Jesus Christ.
v. 12: The idea that there are different levels of
maturity in the Christian life occurs many times in the
NT. See, for example, Ephesians 4:14 and Hebrews 5:13,
14. Spiritual immaturity, characterized by a lack of
understanding and steadiness in faith, is to give way to a
deeper grasp of God's revelation and a more consistent
After the Resurrection, the disciples would understand
the ministry of Jesus more profoundly.
v. 13: The inability of the disciples to understand
the reason for Jesus' death requires the gift Jesus
promises, that is, the Spirit. The Spirit will clarify
what was contained in Jesus' proclamation. Thus, the
Spirit will convert what Jesus revealed into the
v. 14: In the process the Spirit will glorify Jesus,
for then the disciples will see Jesus for what he was as
one who was sent from the Father. But in so doing the
Spirit will glorify the Father whose saving intention
Jesus fulfills. The point is amplified in verse 15.
Our text is striking for the frequency with which the
idea of speaking occurs. "I have yet many more things to
'say' to you" (v. 12). [The Spirit] "will not 'speak' on
his own authority, but whatever 'he hears' he will 'speak'
and 'declare' to you..." (v. 13). [The Spirit] "will take
what is mine and 'declare' it to you" (v. 14). "Therefore
I 'said' that he will take what is mine and 'declare' it
to you" (v. 15).
The God of the Bible is the God who speaks [Deus
loquens]. In contrast to many familiar notions on the way
humans communicate with the divine (mysticism), the God of
the Bible takes the initiative, reveals himself, and
continues to reveal himself by means of the Word.
The means of communication is no accident. God is
discourse, says Robert Jenson, in conscious reference to
the dogma of the Trinity. God's self-disclosure in the
Son (the Word!) through the Holy Spirit bespeaks his
innermost nature. Our text testifies to the conversation
God carries on with us and within himself. The dogma of
the Trinity gathers up the insights Christians derived
from their encounter as believers in the one God with
Christ. Trinitarian faith is faith in [Deus loquens], the
God who speaks.
3. STRATEGY: John 16: 12-15
The situation in the life of the disciples on the
occasion of our text was the imminent departure of their
Lord and the consequent loss of his voice and presence.
Sadness filled their hearts. The situation in which many
of our hearers today live is one in which the voice of God
is also thought to be silent. It may not be spoken about,
but the experience of the absence or silence of God is at
the edge of consciousness.
The text tells us that however firmly it might be
declared that God's voice has been stilled, God speaks.
God has uttered his Word in Christ (John 1, Hebrews 1) and
communicates that to us through the Spirit. This is his
promise. The God who IS Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
speaks in order to share himself with us.
The sermon might be a comfort and a challenge. It is
a comfort to be assured that he who loves us in Christ is
not silent. The question for us is how we listen. The
question is whether we are listening. The question is
what we are listening for.
The preacher might want to try a second tack and
develop the wonder of speech. "Speak to me," we say to
establish communication, even with inanimate objects like
dice. "Do you hear what I am saying?" we ask in order to
make sure we are getting through.
Speech is the wonderful, mysterious means given to us
to share our inner life with one another. The God of the
Bible is the God who speaks. That is shown us in our
text. God speaks to us in Christ through the Spirit. His
word of judgment and grace comes to us in order to allow
us to share in his life.
Love is not muzzled or silent. "In the Name of
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit" not
only establishes the ground on which we gather but holds
before us the promise of what is to happen: God will
speak to us again in his Word by the Spirit.
4. REFERENCES: John 16: 12-15
Brown, Raymond E. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, XIII
- XXI. The Anchor Bible, vol. 29A, Garden City, NY:
Doubleday and Co., 1970.
Jenson, Robert E. "The Being of God," in CHRISTIAN
DOGMATICS. Vol. 1, Carl E. Braaten and Robert W. Jenson, eds.,
Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984, pp. 163-181.
Exegete: Richard E. Koenig, D.D., is a Pastor (RT) in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, living in Covenant Village, Cromwell, CT. Richard is a frequent contributor to The Christian Century and many other church-related publications. He was the founding Editor of LCA Partners magazine and enabled it to become Partners in the ELCA.
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: John 16:12-15
Some hymns recommended for the Festival of the Holy
Trinity and/or this pericope include the following:
Gathering - Holy, Holy, Holy (ELW 473)
The Day - Father Most Holy (ELW 415)
Meal - Come with Us, O Blessed Jesus (ELW 501)
Sending - Come, Thou Almighty King (ELW 408)
Some other hymns suggested for After Pentecost include:
COME, GRACIOUS SPIRIT, HEAV'NLY DOVE (ELW 404)
COME, HOLY GHOST, GOD AND LORD (ELW 395)
CREATOR SPIRIT (ELW 577/8)
FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT'S POW'R (LBW 160)
HAIL THEE, FESTIVAL DAY! (ELW 394)
LIKE THE MURMUR OF THE DOVE'S SONG (ELW 403)
O SPIRIT OF LIFE (ELW 405)
SPIRIT OF GOD, DESCEND UPON MY HEART (ELW 800)
TO GOD THE HOLY SPIRIT LET US PRAY (ELW 743)
Lexegete © 2010
Dartmouth, MA 02747-1925