By my estimation I have preached 29 Easter sermons. This year, wishing to be different, I chose to preach on Romans 8. I alluded to the Easter narrative, but I preached on Romans 8.
Why? Because everything about this chapter screams “He is risen!”
The truth is, I bet the disciples were suffering that morning. Certainly the ladies who visited the grave were suffering. They had come to prepare the body for burial; not to meet a Risen Lord.
When Paul speaks of the spiritual life in Romans 8 he speaks much of suffering. We who are in Christ need not suffer from guilt or fear, for our sins have all been forgiven. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (8:1-4). When we sin as Christians, we need never doubt that we are justified by faith because God’s Spirit dwells within us, bearing witness that we are God’s sons. Further, because the Spirit of God indwells us, He not only leads us to do the will of God, but He empowers our dead bodies to do so (8:5-17) (Diffenbaugh).
But the best thing I like about Romans 8:15 when we are invited to call God “Abba” or “daddy.” I don’t know about you, but, beyond age 4 or 5, I never called my dad “daddy.” It was not cool. In fact, I wanted to be extra cool so I tried calling dad “father” but that only got a scowl from my mother. I compromised and called him “Dad.” I know my son-in-law, who is really cool, calls me “Jim.” Coolness not withstanding, that is too much. I would like to be called “Dad” or at least “Big Daddy” but Karen refuses to be a “Big Momma” and how can you have a Big Daddy without a Big Momma? But I digress.
Can you imagine, the pedantic, choleric, ex-Pharisee Paul, who until recently did not even pronounce the name of God—YHWH—now invited the Roman Church to call God “Daddy?” Imagine the old stuffed shirt Jewish Christians in the congregation praying “Our Daddy, who art in heaven, halloweth be thy name!” Ha! It is embarrassing.
8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, 18 but you received the Spirit of adoption, 19 by whom 20 we cry, “Abba, Father.” 8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness to 21 our spirit that we are God’s children. 8:17 And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) 22 – if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him. (Net Bible)
But it is true. He is our Daddy, Abba Father. It is not cool, but it is true. God the Creator of the universe, is so intimate, so wonderful, so loving, that he invites us to call him Daddy. Wow! Now that is an Easter message.