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Friday, May 21, 2010

+ T R I N I T Y + 2010 +

Lexegete | Year C | St. Luke

The Holy Trinity
First Sunday after Pentecost
May 30, 2010
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8 (2)
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

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.

Gospel Acclamation
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

(chapter 21).

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

following ages.

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

Christian life.

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

disciples' own.

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


- 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:











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