Thursday 15 April 2010

Bible Book:

"He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure." (v.34)

John 3:31-35 Thursday 15 April 2010


The word 'Trinity' is not found in the Bible, but in many placesthe writers explore the complex relationships between God theFather, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Later in his Gospelaccount, John explores this idea at length as he records the wordsof Jesus in chapters 14 to 16. Here in chapter 3 we get a foretasteof those significant but challenging images which seek to describeconversations and actions taking place between the three persons ofthe Trinity.

Clearly we are at the very limit of human thought and language whenwe try to explore these ideas but, equally clearly, theunderstanding of God as Trinity was one which arose not fromabstract debate but from the experience of the early Christians.The first believers were clear that they wanted to affirm that Godthe Father was divine, but their experience of Jesus was that hewas divine too, and the experience of Pentecost (Acts2) and beyond pointed to the fact that the Holy Spirit was Godas well.

These three different experiences of God paved the way for manylong debates within the councils of the Church and led to theformation of the creeds as the Church struggled to define whatconstituted true Christian belief.

Our reading for today predates much of that debate, but in thesewords from John's Gospel we are given an insight into the god whosends Jesus to speak the words of God, and into the god who givesthe Spirit without measure.

John is speaking of a close relationship here between the threepersons of the Trinity. For instance, the one who accepts thetestimony of Jesus is agreeing not only with the words of Jesus butis also certifying or "setting a seal" on the affirmation that "Godis true". This close relationship between God and God's son is seenin the giving of the Spirit to Jesus "without measure".

This action within the Trinity is, on the day of Pentecost, to bethe experience of God's people as the Spirit is given by Godwithout measure to the followers of Jesus.

To Ponder

It could be said that in the early Church thedoctrine of the Trinity was 'an experience looking for a theoryrather than a theory looking for an experience'. Reflect on thatstatement in the light of your own experience of God.

How can you be more open to the God who "givesthe Spirit without measure"?

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