As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16,17)
About the time we began to learn our ABCs we began to learn our 123s. We soon started to hear that 1 + 1 was 2; and 2 + 2 was 4. We came to understand that 1 + 1 + 1 was 3. We would have been corrected if we had said that 1 + 1 +1 equals 1. Math doesn’t work that way.
That’s one of the reasons why it is so difficult for us to wrap our minds around the essence of God. He defies reason. He doesn’t follow the rules of our math. He uses heavenly math.
He does not sit down with us to explain his math. We would not be able to follow his line of thought if he did. Instead, he just states the math facts, and then he shows us.
After leading Israel out of captivity from Egypt he stopped the travels to teach his people. Through his Law he taught them right from wrong. He warned them to listen closely to his words and obey them. He told them some things about himself.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4) With this statement he identifies himself as the single God. This makes sense to us.
But sometimes in the Old Testament he refers to himself in the plural. We might think that he is using the majestic plural, as when a king calls himself “we.” But that’s not the case. We begin to learn that he is actually three persons. We might doubt that if he did not make it obvious. The New Testament makes it even more clear.
Through his Apostle Matthew he tells us, “Watch this!” Then he proceeds to show us the scene that appeared to the early disciples. There is Jesus coming up from the bank of the river. At the very same time the Holy Spirit appears, in the form of a dove. Simultaneously, God the Father reveals himself by speaking, “This is my Son…”
There we have it! He is one God. But there are three persons in the Godhead. We call it the Trinity—Three-in-One.
What does that mean for us? It means that the Lord is unlike anything we have seen. It means that he operates on a plane much higher than what we are familiar with. It means he is God—and we are not.
So how are we to explain this to a person who does not believe in him? Explanation is not necessary. Truth stands whether we understand it or not, whether we accept it or not. We simply are to declare it.
What does the Triune God expect of us? The same as he expected of his ancient people when he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)
It doesn’t matter that we cannot make sense of all this now.
In heaven, heavenly math will be absolutely clear.
O Lord, our God, how great thou art! Too often we try to fit you into our 2×4 minds. Too seldom do we acknowledge that we are only frail children of dust whose understanding is warped as well as limited. Keep reminding us that you are God. Keep showing us that your love for us is the greatest thing about you. Amen.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military