Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Being clear on the Trinity let’s us know Jesus.

In previous postings we have seen that the Trinity lets us make sense of the identity and work of Jesus (Withness: the God of Bosom // Forsakenness). Next we consider how the Trinity lets us make sense of his life and death.

How did Jesus explain his life?

How are we to understand the life of Jesus? What was He doing? What does His life mean? Jesus Himself explained this.

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)

Jesus speaks in practical, vital terms. Instead of using philosophical sounding words like “my purpose” or “the meaning” of my life, he uses the words “my food.”  More than the meaning of His life, more than His mission, more than His purpose, to do the will of His Father is Jesus’ food.

What happens to people without food? First they get hungry. They become faint. Then they starve. Finally, they die. This is how Jesus wants us to understand the place in His life of doing His Father’s will. He has no life without doing the will of his Father.

Obedience or Self-Will

Suppose there were no Trinity. Suppose “Father” and “Son” were just different titles for the same person as the error of Modalism. Then what would it mean to say that Jesus came to do the will of His Father? Is there any such thing as obedience with only one person? Wouldn’t that be just one person doing his own will? Instead of being an obedient person, wouldn’t Jesus be just a self-willed person?

Without the Trinity, we can make no sense of the life of Christ. With the Trinity, the obedience of Jesus to his Father makes sense. It really is obedience of one Person to Another.

In another place, Jesus said,

I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 5:30)

In this saying, Jesus makes an awful lot depend upon the Trinity.  He can do nothing on his own. He cannot judge without hearing from the Father. His judgment is righteous because He seeks not His own will but the will of the Father. Take away the Trinity and Jesus cannot judge. Take away His obedience to His Father and Jesus judges unrighteously. To understand his life and work, we must know Jesus through the Trinity.

His Obedience our Salvation

This matter of obedience, this Trinity event of Jesus doing the will of the Father, is vital to our salvation.

All that the Father gives me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.  For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.  This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.  (John 6:37-39)

Why won’t Jesus ever cast out one who comes to him? He won’t “for I have come … not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” On the last day, Jesus will resurrect all who come to him. Why? “This is the will of the Father who sent Me.”

If The Father and the Son were just one person using two names, what sense would it make for Jesus to say he came not to do his own will but the Father’s will? There would be no difference of wills without a difference of Persons. His claim would turn into a sham. What makes his claim real is that, with the Trinity, the difference of Persons is real. Therefore his obedience is real.

Obedience to the Point of Death

We have seen that the Trinity makes sense of the life and work of Christ.  Also prominent in our faith is the death of Christ.  What sense can we make of his death?  He volunteered to die on the cross. What was He doing?

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him. (Heb 5:8-9)

Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Phil 2:6-8)

The voluntary death of Christ on the cross was a Trinity event. The Son obeyed his Father. Without the Trinity, without the will of the Father, without the Son obeying his Father’s will, there would have been no death of Christ on the cross, and there would be no resurrection from the dead for us. The Trinity makes the obedience of Jesus real, and that obedience is key in our salvation.

For as by the one man's [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's [Christ’s] obedience the many will be made righteous. (Rom. 5:19)


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