Lake Wisconsin Evangelical Free Church

January 28, 2024

The Trinity in Christmas – Luke 1:26-45


“The Trinity in Christmas” Luke 1:26-45 Senior Pastor, Robert Dennison, preached this message on January 28, 2024.

We’re having a wonderful time singing and worshiping today, but let us not forget that there is a war going on on the other side of the world. We need to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem that things will be settled there. Whether we think about it every day or not, it is affecting our country.

Many of our servicemen and women are over there, and there’s always a chance that anything can happen at any time. So the most that you can do is to continue to pray for that situation and not to just forget about it. Today we’re looking at the Trinity and Christmas.

I know we just got finished with December going over the Christmas story, but we’re going through the book of Luke and then into the book of Acts. So we’re here at the beginning in the Christmas story. And today we’re going to look at it from a little bit different angle. We’re going to be looking at the involvement of the Trinity in Christmas. So it’s more of a theological message, one on doctrine today.

The Trinity is a concept in Scripture that’s never mentioned. We don’t see the word Trinity, but we see evidence of it throughout God’s Word. And we’re going to be looking at that today, and then we’re also going to look how the Trinity was all involved here when Mary conceived our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s begin reading in Luke chapter one, verse 26. I encourage you to turn in your Bibles if you have one, or you can follow along on the screen.

Luke chapter one. In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, greetings, favored woman, the Lord is with you. But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be.

Then the angel told her, do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Now listen, you will conceive and give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the most high and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom will have no end. Mary asked the angel, how can this be since I have not had sexual relations with a man? The angel replied to her, the Holy Spirit will come up on you and the power of the most high will overshadow you.

Therefore the Holy one to be born will be called the son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth, even she has conceived a son in her old age. And this is the sixth month for her who was called childless for nothing will be impossible with God. See I am the Lord’s servant, said Mary, may it happen to me as you have said. Then the angel left her.

In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby left inside her and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry, blessed are you among women and your child will be blessed. How could this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For you see when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby left for joy inside of me.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her. May we pray. Heavenly Father, once again we come to your word with great thanksgiving in our heart and appreciation that you’ve given it to us that we might see the path through Jesus Christ, his death, burial and resurrection to a right relationship with you. And also that we might see how we are supposed to live in light of the truths and the teachings, the doctrines, the promises, everything that you give us here. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

The Trinity, the first important thing to realize is that we believe only in one God. And we do find this throughout scripture. Going back to Deuteronomy chapter 6 verse 4, we read, listen Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. That is what Moses was led by the Lord to write in the law. But then God speaks through his prophet Isaiah himself in Isaiah 45, 5 and the Lord says, I am the Lord and there is no other.

There is no God but me. Singular verbs, singular pronoun, because God is one. I taught about the incarnation in December, about how Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. And according to scripture, that is a mystery just as the Trinity is. We cannot fully understand it.

There’s nothing on earth similar to this that fully shows us what it means. But God’s thinking is far above our thinking and what he knows and understands is far above our knowledge and understanding. So we accept by faith what he says even if we don’t understand it. A little child is told by his parents, don’t touch the hot stove because you’re going to burn your hand. Now that child can either accept what the parent says or they can experiment, which is the wiser course of action, to accept what mom and dad says.

And so it is with scripture. We don’t have to experience, we don’t have to understand everything. We can accept God if he is truthful in what he tells us. So the doctrine is a mystery, the doctrine of the Trinity, but what we do see is that scripture says that there is one God. But is it just in the Old Testament?

No, we find it in the New Testament also. Let’s go to Romans chapter 3 verse 30 where we read, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. And then in James 2.19, the brother of Jesus wrote the same.

He said, you believe that God is one, and he said, good. Even the demons believe that God is one, and they shudder at the fact that he is. So it is in the Old Testament, the law, the prophets, the New Testament, doctrinal books, and in the letters themselves, we find that God throughout scripture is one God. But we also see that there is evidence throughout God’s word that God exists in three persons. All the way back in Genesis chapter 1, from the beginning we read, then God said, let us, and that’s a plural pronoun, make man in our, another plural pronoun image, according to our likeness, another plural pronoun, going on now to singular pronouns.

So God created man in his own image. He created him in the image of God. He created them male and female. We have both the essence of plurality here, but we also have the essence of singularity in one God here in the very beginning. And if you read the Jewish Tanakh in an English version, the Jews even translate this verse the same way, let us make man in our image according to our likeness.

Who was God talking to? He wasn’t talking to the angels, because we are not made anything like angels. We are completely different. We are made in the image of God, and so God was speaking to himself within what we call the Trinity today. John explains a little bit more thoroughly in John chapter 1, verse 1, speaking of Jesus, who we know is the Word.

He says, in the beginning was the Word. And that phrase there, in the beginning, goes all the way back to Genesis 1.1. The first words in God’s Word are in the beginning, and that would be what came to the mind of the Jews. At that time in the beginning, the Word Jesus was then. And it tells us not only was the Word then, but he was also with God, in essence beside him in creation, but it also tells us that he was God.

So again, we have this idea that there’s one God, but there’s a plurality there. And that plurality is three different persons. In Matthew 3, 16 through 17, we see all three of these in the baptism of Jesus Christ. When Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water. Jesus was in the water, but above in the heavens suddenly were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God, who was in heaven, coming down upon him where he is in the water, descending like a dove and coming down on him.

And a voice from heaven said, this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. We have God the Father in heaven, speaking to his Son on earth, and the Holy Spirit in between the two coming down. Now I know someone who doesn’t believe in the Trinity. They say there’s one God, and on their refrigerator they had this verse written like this for their children to try to explain it. When Jesus was baptized, he went up from the water.

He saw himself descending on himself like a dove, and he heard himself speaking from heaven, I am my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. They completely are doing all these gymnastics to change the word of what it says, because they don’t want to accept the fact that scripture says that there’s a Trinity, and it’s because they say, I can’t understand it, so it can’t be true. Well, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand in this world. I turn on a light switch, and I have no idea why the lights come on, but I faithfully turn them on in the morning, and I know what? It’s going to happen.

We don’t have to understand everything, but we do have to accept what God’s word says. Jesus himself, in Matthew 28, 19, speaks about the Trinity. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name, and it’s here singular, the name, and this singular name is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.

Now, if we had three of our elders standing up here today, we would say baptizing them in their, what, names, plural, because we know they’re three different individuals, but here again, we have this concept that God is one, but he exists in three persons.

And then in Jude, we read, but you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, that would be the Father, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. So the word Trinity is not in Scripture, but what is in Scripture, and this is what we know for certain, these two main facts. God is one, and secondly, God exists, can we have the next screen so we can read that? There we go. God is one, and God exists as three distinct persons, and under that, each one of these persons being fully God, and each person having a different role.

I invite you, let’s read that together so it kind of sinks in, sometimes it helps us to read out loud. The first statement is, God is one. The second statement, God exists as three distinct persons, each person being fully God, each person having a different role. When we say that each person is fully God, that means that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, they’re all omniscient, they are all powerful, they are all over all things, they are all eternal in their existence, all of them have never been created. They don’t divide those characteristics up, it’s true of all of them.

It’s easier for me to tell you what the Trinity is not, than for me to tell you what it is. I can tell you that the Trinity is not three names for the same person. The Trinity is not three names for the same person. Some people would say, God in the Old Testament was the Father, but then in the New Testament we see him as the Son, and now he exists as the Holy Spirit. They don’t acknowledge that all three have existed over all time and eternity.

The Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son. There are three persons, but they’re not three individuals sharing the same space. It’s not like I took any three of you here today and I tried to put you in a closet together, and all of a sudden you become one, you would still be completely different. That’s not what God is. He’s also not three individuals with different characteristics.

Like I said, they’re all eternal, they’re all all-powerful, they are all all-knowing. He’s also not one individual that is the sum of three-thirds. God isn’t like a pie that’s cut into three pieces, and piece number one is the Holy Spirit, and piece number two is the Son, and piece number three is the Father, and then you put them together. That also is not what the Trinity is. Once again, what we do know is God is one, and God exists as three distinct persons, each person being fully God, and each person having a different role.

Now what we want to see today is that even in the Christmas story that we’re so familiar with, we see the involvement of the Trinity. There are some different titles that we’re going to look at. We’re going to see how they’re all in different locations, just as they were at the baptism of Jesus Christ, and they all have different activities that they are performing in the Christmas story here. Let’s look at the names or the titles that we see here in the text. The first name that we see is God, Theos.

It means the true God, the one God, the true God, the only one that exists. We also see the title here of Most High, meaning that this one is the highest, this one is the most elevated, this one is the loftiest. There is no one higher, there is no one larger, there is no one more powerful than he is. He is over all things. Then we find here in the text the word Lord.

This word Lord in the Greek, Kyrios, it’s what they translated into Greek what had been the personal name of God in the Old Testament, the name Jehovah. Here we find Lord, which means master, the personal name Jehovah. We have to say that Jehovah here, it’s not a title. This is what is an intimate relationship with someone that you would share. If you go in to see your doctor, you’re going to call him Dr.

Smith or Dr. James or whatever, but if you wanted to be on a personal level and he wanted to have a friendship with you, he would tell you what his first name is. That’s what it is here. Because God is not only over all things, not only the God in the Most High, but he wants to have a personal relationship with us, and that’s why he shared his personal name with the Jews. The Jews considered this name to be so holy that they don’t speak it.

When the Old Testament writers made copies to be kept, they left the vowels out because they didn’t want somebody that was a heathen or someone living in sin to even be able to speak the personal name of God. It’s just our best guess today that by placing the vowels in there, we come up with possibly what his personal name is, but until we get to heaven, we won’t know for certain. We also find in the text another name, Jesus, and that word means Savior. And we find the Holy Spirit, that these two Greek words mean that he’s the set-apart breath or wind or breeze, and so it is. We find when Acts, when the breeze came through, that that’s how they realized that the Holy Spirit was there and the flames of fire came down on their heads.

Let’s see how this plays out in the text. How do we see the Lord? How do we see Jesus? How do we see the Holy Spirit? How do we see the God?

How do we see Jehovah in the text? Let’s go to verse 28. It says that the angel came to her, that’s Mary, and said, Greetings, favored woman. The Lord is with you. When God first sent his message to Mary, he didn’t say, The God is with you.

He speaks his personal name. The Father in heaven is telling her that, Personally, I am coming to be with you. And so here, the part of the trinity that sent the angel is God the Father in heaven. Then we read in verse 32, it tells about this child that will be born. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.

And the Lord God, speaking again about the Father in heaven, will give him the throne of his father David. We see a distinction here between the Son of the Most High and the Lord God. And when we put the Lord God together, what we’re saying is Jehovah, his personal name, is the true God. That’s who God is. We come to verse 45, and we find this same personal name Jehovah in this verse.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what he has spoken to her. Jehovah has sent the word, and Jehovah is going to fulfill his word. This is the Father in heaven, sending the word and fulfilling the word that she is going to have a child. So up to this point, Jehovah has been referring to God the Father, but we have a change now when we go to verse 42 and 43. Then she exclaimed with a loud cry, this is Elizabeth talking to Mary, blessed are you among women, and your child will be blessed.

What’s the name of the child Mary’s going to have, this is your test? Jesus. Okay. So the child here is Jesus, will be blessed. How could this happen to me?

Elizabeth was so excited that she says that the mother of my Lord should come to me. Mary is the mother of who? Mother of Jesus. And now Elizabeth is saying that that child is her what? Is her Lord.

And the word here is Jehovah. So now not only is the personal name of God referred to the Father, but now we have that same name being applied to Jesus Christ, the Son. We also find in the text, the Holy Spirit in Luke 1.35, the Holy Spirit will come up on you. So I’m trying to point out there are these different titles that are given to them. And if I put them here in a chart, we find that both Father and Son are connected by this term, that both of them have the same personal name, the Lord Jehovah.

The Father in heaven is God, the true God. He is the most high, being the highest, the most elevated, and the loftiest. And then we have the Lord, which refers to the Father in heaven, that He is the Master, He is the Old Testament Jehovah. But in the verses we just read, we also find that that same terminology, not only refers to the Father, but it refers to Jesus Christ. Our Savior is also Jehovah.

And the last title there is the Spirit, I don’t even know how to say it, I can’t remember, is set apart the breath and the wind and the breeze. God, Lord, most high, Lord God, all titles referring to the Father. Where is He location-wise? In verse 1 we read, in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth. God the Father is outside of the town, and He sends the angel there.

In Luke 1, 19, we also read, the angel answered him to Zechariah, I am Gabriel who stands in the presence of God.

God’s presence, the way we think of it, is that He is in heaven. We know that He’s everywhere, but there’s a special place there that we think of. It’s much as in the Old Testament, that the glory of God resided over the Ark of the Covenant. But God wasn’t just there in that little space, He was still everywhere. And what that tells us is that God, the sovereign God, the Lord over everything, that knows everything and every place that’s going on and controls all that, He still comes to a place where He wants to meet personally with people.

And so it was in the Old Testament that that Ark of the Covenant was the place that the high priest once a year could go into, and in essence, all of Israel was meeting on a personal level with Jehovah God. God is in heaven here in the text, He’s outside of Nazareth. Where does it say though that His son is? Where is Jesus? Who is also the Lord and the Holy One, the Son of the Most High, verse 31 says, listen, you will conceive and give birth to a son and you will name him Jesus.

Jesus at this point is being placed where? In the womb of Mary, in a separate place from where the Father was. And then the Holy Spirit, in a completely different location, we read, when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leapt inside of her. And here we find the Holy Spirit was filling Elizabeth at this time and made her aware before anybody spoke anything to her that Mary is carrying your Lord, the Savior, the Messiah that they have been looking for. God, Lord, Most High, Lord God, God the Father, and His location was in heaven, but what is He doing here in the text?

And we’re going to see that all three parts of the Trinity are doing different things. The angel answered him, I’m Gabriel who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. God sent the word to Mary through the angel Gabriel. In the same way in Luke 126, in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth. God’s activity here in the text is He is sending the angel to announce what is about to happen.

But not only does He send the angel to announce, but the scripture says that the power of the Most High, referring to the God the Father, is going to overshadow Mary. He’s going to make her bear a son that belongs to Him. Then we come to Jesus, who’s also the Lord, the Holy One, the Son of the Most High.

What is He doing at this time? Well, He’s not doing much. He’s being placed into the womb of Mary where He can grow and develop. But it tells us some specific things in a prophecy here that are going to be given to Him. What is He going to be doing?

Well, listen, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God, that’s being the Father, is going to give a gift to His Son. He’s going to give Him the throne of His father David. He’s going to be a king.

He’s going to be a ruler. And in that position, He’s going to reign over the house of Jacob, meaning all of Israel, for eternity once He comes into that place. And it says that His kingdom will have no end. Jesus Christ’s kingdom eventually in the new creation is going to extend to all of the earth. Completely different activities than what we see the Father doing in the text.

We see the Son here with a throne, with a reign, and with a kingdom. What does it say about the Holy Spirit? What is He doing here? Andrew replied to her, the Holy Spirit, another part of what we understand to be God, will come upon you. God the Father is going to overshadow her.

The Holy Spirit is involved in coming upon her. And then again we find in verse 41, and when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greetings, the baby leapt inside of her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

And so it is that in the church today, all believers, when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit fills us. He is a separate person. We make a list here just to show their different activities, how different things are going on in the text. We see the Father, we see the Son, and we see the Holy Spirit. The Father sent Gabriel.

The Father is with Mary. The Father favors Mary. The Father has a Son, Jesus. The Father gives Jesus the throne of David. The Father overshadows Mary.

For the Father, nothing is impossible. The Father is served by Mary, and the Father fulfills what He spoke to Mary. And then of the Son, His activities include that He is now a human-born Son. He is the Son of the Most High. He receives a throne from the Father.

He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and will have a kingdom that never ends, and is the Lord of Elizabeth. And the Holy Spirit’s activities here in the text say that the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, and the Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth. So we find here that God is one. It’s throughout all of Scripture, in the Law, the Prophets, it’s in the Gospels, it’s in the New Testament letters. But we also find this evidence throughout all of Scripture, and particularly in our passage today, that God exists as three distinct persons.

And we see that they were distinct by different and similar titles. We also see that they were in different locations, and they were doing different things. But as God exists as three distinct persons, once again, each person being fully God, and each person of the Trinity having a different role. So you say, well, why is this important? Well, the first thing is, it’s important because it’s in God’s Word.

And God doesn’t put anything in the Bible that is unnecessary. You may have to read it for years and years, and you don’t understand why in the world did he put this here? But he has a reason why those stories, why those laws, whatever they are, there is purpose for them. And if God has it written there, it’s like a precious love letter that he’s given to us. We should want to read all of it and seek to understand it.

But we also believe that it’s true because we see evidence of it in God’s Word. And then the third thing is, I want to read this quote from Wayne Grudem. He gives a really compelling reason why we have to believe in the Trinity. He says, it is extremely important that this mystery be true. And once again, a mystery is something we can’t understand, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t true.

And he gives this one example, if Jesus is not both fully God and a separate person from God, then he could not have borne the complete wrath of God. If God were to pour his wrath out on this building today, how much of it would be left? Absolutely nothing. There isn’t an army that can withstand the wrath of God. There isn’t a world that can withstand the wrath of God.

Much less can there be one man that’s like any of us that can withstand the wrath of God. The only thing that can withstand the wrath of God would be God himself. It’s like with a diamond, they have to use another diamond to give it its shape. If Jesus was only a man, he would have been completely obliterated on the cross by the wrath of God, but because he is God, he was able to withstand that wrath and live through it. And not only did he live through the wrath of God, but we know that he was buried and for three days his body would have started to smell.

We know for certain that he had died. He rises from the grave. Only God could have done that himself after experiencing the wrath of God. Paul tells us this, that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, any belief in him is foolish. And those who claim to be Christian are, in the words of Paul, of all people, most to be pitied.

What he’s saying, if Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, wasn’t raised from the dead, there is no hope for us that we will be raised from the dead either or that we can have an eternal salvation. And we would be living like the Sadducees that we talked last week. They served God. They followed the rules in the Old Testament, but in their mind, as soon as you died, that was it. You were obliterated.

You knew nothing else was going on. And if that’s the case, people should just live for themselves because if all we have in this world is what we can accomplish and what we can achieve and what we can enjoy, we should do that to the end if Jesus Christ was not raised from the dead. And we follow the Lord because we do know for certain Jesus rose from the dead and he promises that we will rise from the dead and we are promised an eternal life with the heavenly Father, with Jesus Christ and his spirit in heaven.

May we bow our heads in prayer. Heavenly Father, we thank you that you loved us so much that you sent your Son to live among us to put up with the scorn, the humiliation in this world, the way that people treated him so irreverently, Father. And yet he did that in love for us. He willingly gave up his life on the cross going through the excruciating pain of dying there on that tree that we might have our sins forgiven, that his blood sacrifice would wipe away all the debt that we have to you for the wrong that we’ve done. And then, Father, beyond that, not only that our sins are forgiven, but you want to raise us to a new life that we can live with you eternally, Father, with the most wonderful, precious relationship that any of us can ever experience, one with you.

We pray these things in Jesus’ name.