The Wonder of the Trinity at the Baptism of Christ (Mark 1:9-11)

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The Wonder of the Trinity at the Baptism of Christ

The Trinitarian Nature of God–Mark 1:9-11, part 2


Life has its mysteries . . . why would a gopher show up in my yard?  What holds electrons around neutrons and protons?  Why does my wife sometimes throw away my favorite shirts?  How far does the universe extend?  Yet another mystery–why can’t I eat a lot of ice cream anymore?

The Bible acknowledges that there are unexplainable things.  Proverbs 30:18 to 19, “There are three things which are too wonderful for me, four which I do not understand: 19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the middle of the sea, and the way of a man with a maid.”  There are things on this earth worthy of wonder and mystery.  Theology has its mysteries too–since God is limitless and you are limited, there will be things you can’t fully understand.  Is the Word of God written by men or by God?  Yes!  Was Jesus 100% God or 100% man?  Yes!  Is salvation a sovereign act of God or something man is responsible to believe?  Yes!  And is God one or three persons?  Yes!

Open your Bibles to Mark 1, and open up the outline found in your bulletin to follow along.  Today we are going to wonder about the Trinity.  The Trinity means three things:

#1  God is three persons

#2 Each person is fully God

#3 There is one God

As Mark begins his gospel, he makes it clear our God is one yet three.  So as we read aloud together verses 9 to 11, notice Mark mentions God the Son, God the Spirit and God the Father.  “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’”

Did you see the three persons of the Trinity in verses 9 to 11?  Verse 9–God the Son, verse 10–God the Spirit, and verse 11–God the Father.  One in essence and three in persons, one God, three persons.  Dive into the theology with me for a moment, and keep your brain tuned in.  All three persons of the Trinity share the same essence or “Godness”.  One is not more God than another.  No member of the Trinity is more essentially divine than the rest.

When I say three “persons”, a person means “a particular individual distinct from the others.”  Theologians use these terms because they are trying to find a way to express the relationship of three beings that are equally and uniquely God, but not three gods.  That’s why you will read or hear this difficult language referring to essence and persons–one essence and three persons.  The Bible clearly states, there is an indivisibility and unity of God, even though Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can all be rightly called God.  The Persons are not three gods–rather, they dwell in communion with each other as they subsist in the divine nature without being compounded or confused.

The Bible often describes our God as Trinity.

#1  God is three persons

#2  Each person is fully God

#3  There is one God

Read Matthew 28:19, “Go . . . and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”  Read Galatians 4:6, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”  Listen to 1 Corinthians 12:4 to 6, “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons.”  Listen to 1 Peter 1:1 to 2, “Peter, … to those who reside as aliens, … who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood.”  Read 2 Corinthians 13:14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.”

One of the clearest displays of the Trinity in the New Testament is found at the baptism of Christ.  And that is where we find ourselves now in our verse-by-verse study of the gospel of Mark 1:9 to 11.  The first theological issue addressed in verses 9 to 11 was baptism, which is what we looked at last week by way of introduction.  And now as we exposit this passage, the second theological issue in verses 9 to 11 is the Trinity.  I caught you–some of you are thinking, “Oh boy–a dry, dull, theology lesson.  Wake me when it’s time to sing again.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Today, if you’re humble, hungry, willing, and love God’s Word you will learn the core secret to a great marriage, a great church, and building a great leadership team in your ministry.  Today, you will understand why one group of Christians thrills your heart to be with, but others seem lifeless and dull.  Today, by embracing the Trinity, singles, you will understand what God desires of you in all your relationships.  Today is one of the most important sermons I’ve ever preached in order to grow in your relationships with others.  So let’s dig in.

#1  God the Son is baptized by John  Verse 9

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”  Do you see the two main points Mark emphasizes in verse 9?  Two facts:  Jesus “came” and Jesus was “baptized”.  With a brevity of words and commitment to action, the go gospel describes Christ’s inauguration to begin His public ministry.

First  Jesus began His public ministry–Jesus came

Jesus came, not with pomp and royalty, but with purpose.  Jesus came, not to Lord over men, but Jesus came in lowliness and humility, to save people.  Mark tells us in verse 9 when Jesus came.  When did Jesus come?  “In those days”–what days are those?  Verses 1 to 8 tell us Israel has been taken over by Rome.  The Pharisees pressured you to live in a way they themselves don’t.  The Sadducees spread their disease of cynicism.  The Zealots continue to rebel from Rome’s rule.  Caesar seeks to be honored as a god, and Roman governors use their soldiers as police and as extortionists.  Herod, an Edomite, extolls materialism and opportunism.

Verse 9  “In those days.”  In verses 1 to 8, John the Baptist, the promised herald, the forerunner of the Messiah bursts on the scene after 400 years of prophetic silence.  Now this prophet of God calls the people of Israel to become aware of their sin 24/7, to admit their sin, confess their sin and turn from their sin.  Then, in order to demonstrate that their heart is willing to turn from their sin internally, in order to prepare the people for the grace of God and the Messiah who would provide their salvation from sin through His own death for their sin, John calls the people to demonstrate their internal heart to turn from their sin, by externally being immersed by him in water.

At the height of John’s ministry, when thousands were responding to the forerunner, immersing themselves in repentance internally, and demonstrating their repentant hearts by being immersed in water by John externally, the people began hoping that what John was saying was true.  That one coming after him would not merely immerse them in water externally, but immerse them with the Holy Spirit internally, transforming them from the inside out.

And verse 9 says, “Jesus came in those days.”  There are two truths you don’t see in most English versions.  But to feel the weight of what Mark is saying, you need to know first that verse 9 starts with a kai, an “and”, which attaches verse 9 to verses 1 to 8.  Verse 9 is connected to verse 8 in the mind of the author.  “In those days” is at the height of John the Baptist’s ministry, when he is telling everyone there is One coming who is superior in every way–He can transform you from the inside out.

The second truth is translated correct only in the KJV—it’s left out of the NASB and the ESV.  The verb “it came to pass” should actually begin verse 9.  The Greek should be translated this way in your English Bible—“and, it came to pass in those days.”  “And it came to pass” is a rare phrase for Mark to use, but it distinguishes the baptism of Christ which is about to occur in verse 9 as distinct from those baptisms John was giving to the people in verses 1 to 8.

So where did Jesus come from?  Verse 9 says Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee.  Here is the hero of our story, the focus of the Gospel and one who makes our salvation “good news”–His name is Jesus.  The God man Jesus has now begun the process in which He will do the work necessary for His people to be saved from their sins.  It will be through Jesus, who is from Nazareth in Galilee.

And it came to pass in those days that Jesus wrapped up thirty years of obscurity and silence, thirty years of growing up with his half-brothers, James and Jude.  Thirty years working (at least some of the time) with his stepfather Joseph, as a carpenter.  Thirty years in the same house with his mother and half-sisters.  Thirty years, where he grew to manhood, learned, played, talked, ate, did chores, purchased items, made friends, learned the Word in the synagogue, and traveled to Jerusalem for feasts and festivals.  And thirty years, where verse 9 says, He lived in Galilee.

Galilee is the northern region of Israel where the Sea of Galilee is.  It is beautiful with attractive green rolling hills, dramatic cliffs and a gorgeous lake.  Yet Galilee was a region that was contemptible to all who lived in the south, in Judea, because the Galileans had developed a funny dialect, mispronounced words and made grammatical errors.  They had developed what we might make fun of with people in our country who live in the south—“Ha ya’ll doin?” or Minnesota, “don’t ya know.”

And Mark uniquely adds that Jesus came from Nazareth, which was also despised by the religious elite of Jesus’s day because Nazareth isn’t mentioned once in the Old Testament.  It was not even mentioned once by the Jewish historian Josephus, or the Talmud.  This little city was also disdained by common Israelites because of its irreligion and lack of morals.  Its population was mongrel, its dialect was rough, and its people were seditious.  Nazareth was even considered rough by the hillbilly Galileans.

Luke 3:23 tells us when He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age.  So for thirty years, Jesus lived in Nazareth, the backwoods hills of hickville Galilee, where God prepared Him for his three-and-a-half years of public ministry, leading to His ultimate goal of dying on the cross for our sins, rising from the dead and ascending into heaven.

And Mark 1:9 tells us Jesus came–from Nazareth in Galilee.  Mark states a fact.  The verb “came” indicates that Jesus took this step of His own volition–Jesus voluntarily entered His Messianic office and began His public ministry.  At the height of John’s ministry to the people of Israel, Jesus left obscurity and entered the public arena.  His baptism here marks the dividing line between His private and public life.  Now as a man, approximately thirty years old, at the peak and balance of His physical strength and wisdom, Jesus came—to do what?

Second  Jesus identified with sinners–He was baptized

Mark tells us in the second half of verse 9, “and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”  The verb “baptized” tells us this event is a fact of history, and the passive voice means John did the baptizing of Jesus in the Jordan River.  Like everyone else coming out to hear John, Jesus was immersed under the water.

But as we studied last week, Jesus’s baptism, though similar in form, was not similar in meaning.  Jesus was not being immersed in repentance.  Jesus was not confessing sin.  Jesus was not expressing a need to be forgiven.  Jesus Christ is God–not only did Jesus not sin, Jesus could not sin.  Christ was, and is, and always will be sinless.

John the immersing one understood this, and was appalled by Christ’s request to be baptized.  Matthew 3:13 to 15, “Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ 15 But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him.”

Along with His baptism officially starting His public ministry, Jesus was identifying Himself with your sin.  By being baptized, Jesus was taking the first necessary step to becoming the sinner’s substitute.  When Jesus says in verse 15, “permit it for this time. It is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.”  Ultimately Christ is saying, by dying on the cross and God pouring out His wrath that we deserved, on Christ Himself, God could justly satisfy His righteousness violated by your sin.

Therefore, the baptism of Christ is connected to the cross.  Christ’s baptism was a symbol of His death and resurrection.  By His baptism, Christ is prefiguring His own death and resurrection in advance. Jesus tells us this in Mark 10:38, where Jesus says, “You do not know what you are asking for.  Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”  Christ’s water baptism was a picture of his immersion into death, then His resurrection.

His baptism involved no acknowledgment of sin, but with this baptism in verse 9, Jesus will take His place with sinners in that symbol of death, even as He would finally as­sociate Himself with His children in actual death.  Though sinless Himself, He was able to sympathize with His children in their struggle with sin.  Christ is saying in His baptism, I’ve come to accomplish your salvation–like baptism, I will die for your sin and rise again for you.  So what happens next at the Jordan River?

#2  God the Spirit empowers the Son  Verse 10

Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him.”  “Immediately”–this is the first occurrence of Mark’s favorite adverb.  Mark uses this word more often than the other three gospels combined.  This word “immediately” combined with the conjunction “and” gives Mark’s gospel the feel of ceaseless activity.  That is why we call Mark the author of action, and this gospel, the gospel of go.

Using it in verse 10 here stresses that Jesus didn’t tarry in the Jordan, but walked out at once to be tempted in the wilderness.  What an incredible event this was–imagine being there, seeing what Christ saw and hearing what Christ and others heard.  Wow!

Verse 10 has one main verb—“He saw” and three participles . . . “coming up” out of the water, the heavens “opening”, and the Spirit “descending” and the order is correct.  As Jesus was immediately coming up out of the water Jesus saw two incredible events–one visible, one audible.  We know from the other gospels that John the Baptist also saw this event (John 1:32 to 34).  What Jesus saw and heard were objective, real, factual events.  This was not a vision, but reality.

First  Jesus saw the heavens opening

The present tense of the verb “opening” pictures the sky itself in the very act of being torn apart.  The passive voice of the verb opening suggests that this was an act of God.  The heavens opening literally means heavens are splitting open, dividing open, renting asunder–the Greek word opening is where we get our English word “schism”.

This verb “opening” is the same verb Mark uses later in 15:38 to describe the veil in the temple being ripped into two at the time of Jesus’s death–torn apart.  The sky was ripped open.  This kind of dramatic event suggests the start of a new era of open communication between heaven and earth.

Second  Jesus saw the Spirit descending

Verse 10b says “the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him.”  The Spirit descending is the Holy Spirit coming down, seemingly through the split in the sky.  In classical Greek (which is before New Testament Greek) the verb descending was used to describe a rider descending upon a horse, to stride, to come upon.  The idea was for the Holy Spirit to join Christ in a unique partnership.  And when verse 10 says descending upon Him, it is literally into Him.  The word translated “upon” here in verse 10 is the same Greek word used in verse 9 to describe Jesus being immersed by John into–same word as upon–into the Jordan.  This “into Him” indicates the Spirit’s entrance into Christ in full empowerment for His messianic ministry–the Spirit descending into Him.

But “into Him” does not mean the Spirit was not present in Him prior to this time, since Christ and the Spirit are one God–this “into Him” is a unique empowering for His public ministry.  Christ never laid aside His attributes nor His deity, but He self-limited His attributes–the kenosis, and veiled His deity in order to live as a man on earth, to completely identify with us.

There are many of us who believe Christ functioned not by His own power, attributes or deity, even when He did miracles, but He performed those actions and all He said and did by the power of the Holy Spirit in Him.  He lived by the Spirit.  Such is the example and the love of Christ for you.  But why does the Holy Spirit descend on Christ like a dove?  Three suggestions have been made.

1  Some have suggested because the dove is gentle, pure, peaceful, and innocent like Christ was and is.

2  More probably, the dove points to sacrifice–the dove was preeminently the bird of sacrifice for the Jews.  So here, Christ is being empowered by the Holy Spirit to live humbly, and ultimately lead to the sacrifice of the cross.

3  The third reason why a dove is because it points to the picture God gave us of the Trinity at creation.  In the creation account, Genesis 1:2 says that the Spirit hovered over the face of the waters.  The Hebrew verb hovered means to “flutter”–the Spirit fluttered over the face of the waters.  To capture this vivid image, the rabbis who translated this passage into Aramaic wrote it like this, “And the earth was without form and empty and darkness was on the face of the deep and the spirit of God fluttered above the face of the waters like a dove.”

From Genesis we know there are three parties active in the creation of the world–God the Father, God’s Spirit and God’s Word, through which He creates.  We know that’s Christ.  The same three parties are present at Jesus’s baptism–the Father who is the voice, the Son who is the Word, and the Spirit fluttering over the waters like a dove.  Mark is deliberately pointing us back to the creation, when the first Adam was to rule the earth as God’s representative.

Now as the fallen world is about to be redeemed, it is the second Adam who will rule the earth as God’s representative.  Both creation and redemption are the work of the Trinity.  The point is, life itself from creation and redemption is to be saturated by, and one with, the Trinity.  So we’ve seen the Son be immersed to identify with His coming death, the Spirit descend to empower–what about the Father?

#3  God the Father affirms the Son  Verse 11

Read verse 11, “and a voice came out of the heavens:  ‘You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.’”  This is the Father’s confirmation to the incarnate Son as He stood upon the bank of the Jordan River.  A voice, a sound, a noise–the Greek word is phon-a, where we get cell phone, phonograph, and symphony.  God the Father speaks, presumably out of the split in the sky, and expresses deep love and affirmation to God the Son.

Only two other times does the Father speak about His Son audibly.  On the mount of transfiguration the Father says of the Son in Mark 9:7, “a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!’”  Again, Jesus is called beloved.  Then, during the Passion Week, Jesus prays and the Father audibly replies.  Jesus says in John 12:28, “’Father, glorify Your name.’   Then a voice came out of heaven:  ‘I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’”

In every case, the Father is either expressing love or affirmation to the Son.  God the Father loves God the Son.  The main verb in verses 9, 10 and 11 is “ you are” my beloved Son.  And the “you” or “thou” is emphatic, emphasized (you yourself) in comparison to all others, You alone are beloved.  Not You have become beloved, nor You have become my Son–this is not a newly established relationship, but an abiding reality.

The root of beloved is agape, that sacrificial action to benefit another–and the exact form of the verb “beloved” is to prize, to be dear, to express extreme delight.  No higher love is possible than the love which the Father cherishes toward His Son–this love is thoroughgoing love, deep-seated love, as great as the heart of God itself–infinite love.

My spouse is beloved, prized, very dear, an extreme delight.  The Father is saying to the Son, “You alone are uniquely beloved.  Again the Greek has a strong emphasis on beloved–it is literally, you are my Son, The Beloved, stressing a perfect love relationship, “only” beloved.

I love my sons massively–I am so grateful for their love for Christ and love for their wife and wife-to-be, for their love for Christ’s church, their love for service to His body and their love for Jean and I as parents.  But that is nothing compared to what God declares here toward His Son–this is the greatest, perfect love that exists.  This statement is the Father’s love response to Jesus’s dedication to His mission as the servant of God and lamb of salvation.

Then the Father adds, “in You I am well-pleased.”  Pleased is pleasure or delight.  This verb “well-pleased” is timeless, indicating that the Father had always been pleased with the Son and was still pleased with Him.  In Christ, the Father found perfect satisfaction and delight, and it’s a pleasure that never had a beginning and will never have an end.

Now why is the Father’s love for the Son so important?  Why is the Trinity clearly present at creation and redemption?  What difference does God being three yet one make to me?  Buckle up, friends.  I read Lewis, Piper, Grudem, Keller, MacArthur and some Mueller–here is what you need to embrace.

The Christian teaching of the Trinity is mysterious and difficult.  The doctrine of the Trinity is that God is one God, eternally existent in three persons.  That’s not tritheism, meaning three gods who work in harmony.  Neither is it modelism, where the Father puts on a hat and becomes the Son, then the Son puts on a hat and becomes the Spirit–no TD Jakes.  The correct view is Trinitarianism, which holds there is one God in three persons who know and love one another.  God is not more fundamentally one than He is three, and He is not more fundamentally three than He is one.

When Jesus comes out of the water, the Father envelops Him with words of love–you’re my Son whom I love–with you I’m well pleased.  Meanwhile, at the same time the Spirit covers Christ with power.  What most people miss from this event is this–these very actions have been happening in the interior life of the Trinity from all eternity.  And this is the model target for all relationships.

When you glorify God, this is what you experience–Mark is giving us a glimpse into the very heart of life, purpose and all relationships–family, single, friendships, and ministry.  According to the Bible, the Father, the Son and the Spirit glorify one another.  Jesus says in His prayer recorded in John 17:4 to 5, “’I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. 5 Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.’”  Each person of the Trinity glorifies the other.

But listen to one theologian commenting on how the Father, Son and Spirit, glorify one another.  He says, “The persons within God exalt each other, commune with each other and defer to one another–each divine person harbors the others at the center of his being.  In constant movement of overture and acceptance, each person envelops and encircles the others . . . God’s interior life, therefore, overflows with regard for others.”

You are glorifying something when you find it beautiful for what it is in itself.  Its beauty compels you to adore it, to have your imagination captured by it, you think about it, treasure it, reflect it, imitate it, enjoy it and take pleasure in it.  This happened to me with art by Rembrandt.  To get an “A” in Art Appreciation in college, I had to look at a lot of Rembrandt.  I had to get good grades to get a good job, so in reality I looked at Rembrandt to make money.  But today I am quite willing to spend money just to look at Rembrandt, not because it’s useful to me anymore, but because it is beautiful in and of itself.  It is no longer a means to an end, but an end in itself.

When it is a person you find beautiful in that way, you want to serve that person unconditionally.  When you say, “I’ll serve you as long as I am getting benefits from my service,” that is not actually serving people, it is serving yourself through them.  That’s not orbiting around them, it’s using them, getting them to orbit around you, making you the center of your life, not them.  And there are many of us who look unselfish, dutiful and obedient because we say yes to enough to look good.  But we are not glorifying God, just ourselves.  We are not serving out of love for other persons like the Trinity does, but to look good and to please ourselves.

To glorify others means to unconditionally serve them, not because we’re getting anything out of it, just because of our love and appreciation for who they truly are.  The Father, the Son and the Spirit are each centered on the other persons in the Trinity, adoring and serving them, and look what happens.  Because the Father, Son and Spirit are giving glorifying love to one another, God is infinitely and profoundly happy.

Pick up the way Paul says it to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:11, “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”  Blessed means happy–God is happy, and a great part of God’s glory is His own happiness.  It is good news that God is gloriously happy.  No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God.

Jesus even said in Matthew 25:23, ’’’Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”  God is a God of joy, Jesus is a Savior of joy, God is a happy God and His joy has been eternal, as it is found in the way the three persons of the Trinity lovingly, selflessly, serve and give to the other members of the Trinity.

Think about this–if you find somebody you adore, someone for whom you would do anything, and you discover this person feels the same way about you, does that feel good to you?  It is sublime joy and happiness.  That is what God has been enjoying for all eternity.  The Father, Son and the Spirit are pouring love and joy and adoration into the other members of the Trinity, each one serving the other.  They are infinitely seeking one another’s glory, and so God is infinitely happy.  And because we know this world has been created by this Triune God, and redemption comes from this Triune relationship, then the closer we are to emulating, enjoying, and being one with the Trinity, the more we are going to be happy and experience joy, and the more we are going to impact others.

Does this matter?  Yes–this is crucial.  C.S. Lewis says it matters more than anything else in the world–the whole Trinitarian love relationship, joy relationship, happiness from serving, giving and loving each other unselfishly is to be played out in each one of us and all of us together.

This is the key to a biblical marriage–this Trinitarian unselfish, giving, loving, expect nothing in return, service to your mate is what creates joy and happiness in marriage, and spills out all over your children.  They’ll want Christ because they see Him in all His fullness, lived out in the way you treat each other as spouses.  Are you getting this?

This is key–glorifying God is not merely reflecting His attributes, it is also reflecting His relationship.  This is radical, life-altering, rock your world truth.  Love is not static, it happens in relationship.  Joy is experienced in community–God is seen best in the context of selfless, giving relationships in community.

This is the key to an amazing church.  When we begin to glorify God by dependently emulating the unselfish service of the persons of the Trinity, and begin to serve each other in that same manner, then the joy of the Trinity, and happiness of the Trinity become our joy and our happiness–that’s part of the reason why FBC is so special.  And it’s part of the reason we are also not having as much joy and as much happiness and as much impact as we could, because not all of you are pursuing the heart of the Trinity.

This is the key to great ministry as you work with an RMG, or children’s or youth.  Is God manifesting Himself in amazing ways as you begin to serve each other as staff, love each other unconditionally, minister to others who are serving with you with no thought of return–and watch what it does to those you are serving and shepherding.  They’ll see God, catch His joy, love your ministry, and be more faithful.  Are you catching a picture of who God is as Trinity?

A self-centered person wants to be the center around which everything else orbits.  I might help people, I might have friends, I might fall in love as long as there’s no compromise of my individual interests or whatever meets my needs.  I might even give a twenty to the church or a buck to the poor–but only as long as it makes me feel good about myself and doesn’t hinder my lifestyle too much.  Self-centeredness makes everything else a means to an end.  And that end is whatever I want and whatever I like, my interests over theirs.  I’ll even have fun with people, I will talk with people, but in the end, everything orbits around me.

Now, if everyone is saying, “I want you to orbit around me,” what happens?  Imagine any ten Christians in your group or ministry all on one stage, all seeking the spotlight.  When everyone is saying, “Let me be in the spotlight, you step out of the way, you move around me,” then nobody gets anywhere, and it becomes dangerous to be on the stage.

The Trinity is utterly different. Instead of self-centeredness, the Father, the Son and the Spirit are characterized in their very essence by mutually self-giving love.  No person in the Trinity insists that the others revolve around Him.  Rather, each of the persons of the Trinity voluntarily orbits around the other persons.  The Trinity is the ultimate reality, and if this world was made by a triune God, and we were redeemed by a triune God, then relationships of biblical love are what life is all about.  It is how you glorify God in your marriage, in your family, in your church and in this world–in each and every relationship.  John 13:35 says, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is selfless, sacrificial action to benefit another.  So why did God create us, then redeem us?  Not to get love but to give love, not to get joy but to give joy.  Your faith in Christ is not merely a belief, or praying when you’re in trouble, or getting people to pay attention to you.  You were made then redeemed to function like the Trinity and enjoy the happiness and joy of the Trinity as you serve, give and love others unconditionally.

This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”  Glorifying God is more than reflecting His attributes, it is dependently displaying His triune relationship.




About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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  1. […] revealed just how deep that selfishness is and how it fights against God’s purposes. On Sunday, Chris’s sermon showed a picture of the opposite of selfishness, the […]