In the beginning there was nothing, and then God spoke and in that place where there was nothing, light burst forth. God’s word was true, and the world reflected that truth in utter perfection, in complete justice. And day after day, God spoke and where there was nothing, stars shone, fish filled, feathered creatures flung out wings in flight, where nothing crawled or slithered or pawed or burrowed, God spoke, calling those things which did not exist as though they did and then they did. God’s word echoed again and again and became truth in the world. And then His word became flesh in a man and woman, images of Himself. They and all things became incarnations of His justice, His righteousness because what He said was true and good and righteous altogether.
But though men twisted His words and rebelled, the same Word spoke again and again. What seemed possible to unrighteous man, God rendered impossible by His righteous word. What seemed impossible to unrighteous man, God rendered possible by His righteous word. Floods drowned the unjust world and carried a righteous man and his family into a new one, unrighteous towers went unfinished and an old man left home childless believing his descendants would inherit the earth and was reckoned a just man by God. Evil kings were frustrated and slaves were set free to learn God’s word again; giants defeated; prostitutes saved, the hungry filled; vast armies slain in a single night; the proud blinded; the humble given sight, the brokenhearted comforted.
And then when unrighteous men said “no” to God and condemned Him, lying and convicting Him of crimes and nailing Him to a cross, when they mocked Him, and spat on Him and dared Him to come down, when they laid Him in a tomb and sealed it with a giant stone, when they stationed soldiers outset the grave to guard the corpse, when they had done all of this, God spoke again and where there was no life, life appeared, where hope had vanished, hope sprang into existence.
In other words, there is no other kind of faith, except Easter Faith. Christian faith is by definition Easter Faith. There is not some other kind of faith, some other kind of generic belief. If it is Christian faith then it is Easter Faith. It is faith in the God who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did, and then they do.
But when we say this to our neighbors, when we explain this to the world, they respond wanting to know why evil and sin and death continue. If this God of yours is the God who speaks and commands the dead to live, if this God of yours speaks and heals the blind, reverses the cancer, and holds back the storm – where is this God of yours? Why does He not speak now? Why does He not save the weak now? Where was God when the child was abused? Where was God when the tornado struck? When the cancer metastasized? Where is this justice if your God raises the dead? In fact, if we feel these questions, if we feel the weight of them, we may be tempted to be ashamed. Where is our God? Why does He not perform wonders? Where is His justice?
Paul felt the weight of these questions centuries ago. And he wrote the Romans assuring them that he was not reluctant to come to them in Rome and preach the gospel of Jesus there. He was not slow to come to Rome because He was afraid or ashamed of the gospel. No, he explain, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…For in it the justice of God is revealed from faith to faith.” (Rom. 1:16-17)
What is God doing? What is He doing not speaking the word? Not commanding the dead to live, not commanding the storms to cease, not commanding the wicked to fall? What is God doing? Paul says that God is displaying His justice through the gospel. That by the proclamation of the crucified and risen Jesus, God is revealing true righteousness, true justice in this world. Paul calls it the justice of faith. How was Abraham reckoned righteous? How did an old man and an old woman with a barren womb display the justice of God? By being an old man as good as dead, by being a woman with a dead womb – and believing God. There is only Easter Faith. There is no other kind of God; no other God exists. He is the God who calls the dead to live and calls those things that do not exist as though they do, so that they will then begin to be.
Paul says that Abraham believed God against hope, and in hope believed. Christian faith always consists of this hopelessness in front of us and this God out ahead of us. When we see the sin, when we see the storm, when we see the tomb, when we feel the pain closing in, there is no hope. And this is precisely when we believe. We believe against hope, and in hope believe. For we do not fix our eyes on the sea in front of us, on the army behind us, the cancer inside us, the failures around us. We fix our eyes on Jesus who was delivered up for our offenses and raised for our justice. He is the promise of God that all will be put right. He is the justice of God bearing our sin away and overcoming all the schemes and plots of men. So where is the darkness in your life? Where does it seem hopeless? Where is death closing in? Acknowledge the facts. It is hopeless, and then remember your God. He is the God who calls the light from the darkness. He commands the seas. He flings the stars with a word. He calls the dead to life, and speaks of those things which do not exist as though they do, and then they do. Which is to say: Our God still performs wonders because Christ is risen indeed.
In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Amen.