The Trinity in Action

I recently began a new teaching position as the Bible department head at a Christian school in Texas. I am beginning all of my classes in the Gospels, and in each Gospel in the account of Jesus’ baptism at the beginning of his ministry.

During the baptism of Jesus, the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — are on full display; or, as I told my students, we see the “Trinity in action.” God the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove, God the Father speaks from Heaven, and God the Son is the one being baptized!

Here is the most summarized account of this event from the Gospel of Mark:

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9–11

The Gospel of John records the testimony of John the Baptist, who baptized Jesus.

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” John 1:32–34

While the emphasis of the Gospels is certain on Jesus as the promised Messiah and Savior of all of mankind, it is easy to forget the role of the Trinity throughout the text. Once you read the text through a Trinitarian lens, the depth and complexity of God’s sovereignty become much more apparent.

As someone who has worked in vocational ministry for a decade, it can likewise be easy to forget the work of the entire Trinity in the Christian life. In my denominational tradition, it has been so easy to focus on the saving work of Jesus and his role as intercessor. How often do we hear from the Holy Spirit and are comforted by his presence? Is God the Father merely some removed, distant figure?

At school, one question I have been asked several times is “How do I hear from God?” Answering that question begins with knowing who “God” really is — all three persons of the Godhead. Hearing from God begins with knowing the One who speaks.

When you think about God, do all three members of the Godhead come to mind. How does the “Trinity in Action” inform how you listen and respond to God?

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