DELIVER US FROM EVIL
Sermon Text, St. John 19:30. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
Lord, this is Your Word and these are Your words. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Lord, help us to trust in Your dying words, “It is finished!” and to believe that You actually deliver us from every evil of body and soul. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ Crucified:
What happened on Good Friday? God answered this prayer: “Deliver us from evil.” Tonight is a good time to learn how we should pray this prayer.
As we hear the history of this day doesn’t it feel strange to call it “good?” As things get worse for Jesus – as His hands are shackled and He’s marched along; as friends abandon Him; as He’s brutally beaten, tortured, hit and hurt; as words are added to the pain: the insincere greeting of Judas, the denials of Peter, and the shouts of “Crucify Him!”; as nails are driven into His flesh, and on the cross to get air into His lungs, He has to push up on His feet or pull Himself up by His wrists, all the time with severe pains shooting up His legs and arms; as He is forsaken and everything goes dark for Him.
What’s going on here is that evil is being allowed free reign. But why is evil allowed such free reign? It’s not just evil, but “the Evil One.”
This brings us to the 7th Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Deliver us from evil.” As you know, the Lord’s Prayer came from Jesus. You can find it in Matthew 6 and Luke 11, but there Jesus does not actually say “Deliver us from evil.” The words are: “Deliver us from the Evil One,” that is, the devil.
It’s the same thing, of course. All evil comes from this Evil One. Evil isn’t an impersonal thing. The devil is a personal being who takes aim at people. He spreads evil so he can ruin God’s good creation, starting with you.
That’s why Jesus doesn’t say to pray, “Deliver the world from evil,” but: “Deliver us from evil.”It’s about you and why there’s evil in your life.
I’ll tell you what we want to pray. We want to pray that there would be no evil in our lives anymore. We want to pray: “Take away the evil.” Why doesn’t God do that? He did better than only taking away specific evils that we’re aware of – for the Evil One is constantly coming up with more.
Jesus let all the evil come to Him, so it can’t overpower us. He made Himself the “mighty Victim from the sky,” so it would be that “hell’s fierce powers beneath Him lie” (ELH 310:5). He cries out, “It is finished!” He didn’t put an end to the devil being present in our life here. He redeemed us from sin, death, and the devil so they can’t be where we are in the life to come.
This is why evil is allowed free reign on Good Friday. Isn’t Jesus being swallowed up in this “valley of sorrow,” by “the valley of the shadow of death”? But in taking all that evil can inflict on Him, Jesus takes away all its power against us.
The Evil One will still hurl it at us, nonstop. This makes our life difficult. We can’t stop these things from coming at us. That isn’t finished. It’s the world we live in. The Evil One unleashes evil into our world, using people made in God’s image but twisting them to do his purposes so that they hurt, maim and kill other people made in God’s image, and bring untold sadness and devastation, and cause bereaved people to be twisted into anger and anguish so that they even begin to question if God is paying attention.
The most recent shooting at a school was at a Christian school. Afterward, we hear Christians being blamed because the shooter had been led to hate the way she was made and to want to be a different gender. The world then made her into a victim. She is a victim – not of the church’s teaching but of the devil’s lies. Now, this is being used to target the Christian Church and brand God’s truth as a teaching of hatred. Not only does the devil want to bereave parents of their children, he wants to separate all these souls from the God who so loves each person that He sent His Son to die this death.
It seems hollow to say to people who suffer such evil – of any time or place — to “be comforted, Jesus died for you; He died for this.” But it isn’t hollow. The truth is that God does care about this latest manifestation of evil and He cares about each and every person involved, those who have evil done to them and those who do the evil. For God sent Jesus to take it upon Himself. Not only did He take the sins you do onto Himself, but also all the sins done to you. All swallowed up in His death, buried in His grave. “It is finished!”
Every appearance of evil, past, present, and future, is brought into the death of Jesus. We may experience a portion of it, but like a magnet, He draws and redirects all of the evil that is ever done upon Himself.
It can be inflicted on us, it does hurt, we do suffer, it is real; but we are to know that whatever harm is there is temporary – because of Good Friday. Whatever happens to your body, it can’t truly be harmed because He “has redeemed this body, together with the soul” (Lutheran burial rite). “It is finished!”
In this way, Jesus has stripped evil of its power. He wasn’t swallowed up by evil in this valley of sorrow; He swallowed up all evil. Because of Good Friday, the valley of the shadow of death isn’t the valley of death. It’s only a shadow that looks and even feels dark and scary, but it can’t hurt you.
By His death, Jesus makes it so that the evil others do to you will only harm for a time. It’s a harm that He’s able to heal. He has righted all the wrongs, “every evil of body and soul, property and honor.” No harm can be done to you that lasts; He makes it so it is done to Him in His death.
We know this by faith, but when once we are “taken from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven,” we will see and know that He has answered all our prayers and righted all the wrongs when we are in the place where not even a shadow of evil is allowed to approach. “It is finished!”
So this prayer, “Deliver us from evil,” is truly the Good Friday prayer, emphasis on the Good. Good Friday is the One Good Day that takes away everything evil or bad, sorrowful or sad in your days and makes everything good for you, every day until He brings you to the Eternal Day. Amen!