Counting to Three…
We are getting to that time of year, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when our three children will have more time together as Jill visits us from Oklahoma. Kristin and Andrew are already local so our entire nuclear family will be in Carmel for the season’s celebrations. And when that happens, invariably, the kids get to talking about their shared childhood in our home.
While Janet takes the ribbing somewhat good-naturedly, I tend to be a little more sensitive when the distant past is brought up for discussion. More times than not the kids tend to dwell on those childhood memories that don’t show me in the best possible light. Of course, they think it is funny, but Janet and I are here to point out that none of the kids has ever been arrested, they have grown into responsible adults and all three of them make their first call to us if they get into trouble or need advice. That’s gratifying to us that they still consider us good sources of information when the going gets tough.
Another thing – all the kids get along well. That used to be something that Janet and I worried about in the event that anything happened to us. We were concerned that our children wouldn’t depend on each other and, at least now, that isn’t the case. They are all close and wish the best for each other. We must have done some things right…
One of the things that usually comes up for discussion is the memory of me counting to three before punishing any of them. Early on, I decided that I wasn’t going to be one of those parents who threatened punishment and then didn’t follow through. I thought that would set a bad example and, frankly, the world doesn’t operate that way. Actions have consequences and I wanted our children to learn that lesson early.
So… whenever they were hesitant to help out or were taking too long to be obedient, I would start the count – one… two… and rarely, unless absolutely necessary, THREE… As long as there was movement toward the goal before I reached the dreaded THREE, we were good. But every once in a while, there was a defiance in the air and one of the kids would receive some sort of punishment that would be consistent with the issue.
I can’t ever remember a time when there wasn’t a chance for them to comply and avoid the consequence, but that whole season of their childhoods does keep coming up for discussion. Now, as they get older, their own children will be testing the boundaries and we will see how they each deal with the dilemma.
Another “three” is far more important than my counting. That’s the significance of the number three in the Bible when referring to God. The Scripture contains a number of references to the three parts of the Godhead – the Trinity. God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit are three, each with their own attributes, yet one God. Many Christian denominations refer to them as “three in one.” As time progressed, God the Father sent His Son, Jesus, to live and walk among us. When the time came for Jesus to return to the Father, another part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, was sent to take the place of Jesus and indwell us – that is, to reside in each believer. In a way, you could say that God was above us, Jesus with with us and the Holy Spirit is in us.
This sequence of events happened as God chose to reveal more of Himself to us throughout history. And whenever the three members of the Trinity were all mentioned during the same event, it signified an event that was incredibly important and noteworthy.
Our verse for this evening highlights one of the most important times that all three members of the Trinity were present – that is, at the baptism of Jesus. We are told, in Matthew 3:16-17, “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.” Notice that Jesus was coming up out of the water, the Spirit was “like a dove” and God the Father was speaking from heaven. There are fewer than 20 times in the entire Bible that mention the three members of the Godhead being present at the same time. That’s how rare it is.
My encouragement this evening is that we are approaching the time when God decided to send His Son in human form to live among us – as a model of behavior for us to follow. My prayer is that this Christmas season we may be aware and experience the love that we all so desperately desire. Please know that Jesus intercedes with the Father on our behalf and when we are too tired or distressed to pray for ourselves, the Holy Spirit even prays for us – petitioning God on our behalf. That means that all three parts of the Trinity are with us – all the time.. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…