…But deliver us from evil.

Grace mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

This Good Friday we again remember and even celebrate an event that by all human accounts seems like something that we would want to forget and defiantly not something that anyone would want to celebrate.  You have heard the cliché like sayings about this day that reflect some sort of idea that Good Friday did seem so good but it was for us.  You have heard the questions from people of why would you call this day GOOD Friday?  We as those who have faith in Christ know what his death means for us and that is that our sins have been paid for and that we have been redeemed. We look at the cross and we see an act that seems so horrific.  Anyone who has watched the movie the passion of the Christ got a small glimpse into how horrific the act of crucifixion truly was. Perhaps we have even asked ourselves why did it happen this way?  Was there not another way for this to take place?  When we ask those questions I think we have lost sight of what is going on at the cross.  In our culture more and more people are looking at the cross as an evil thing.  Pastor Bob talk this past Sunday about the world simply sees this event of the cross as something evil happening to a fairly decent guy.  If we fall into this trap as well we have forgotten what Jesus is truly delivering us from.  The cross looks evil because Christ is dealing with evil. He is truly delivering us from evil.

To understand the cross we must go all the way back to the garden where evil reared its ugly head. Genesis 3:1–6 (ESV) Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

The evil one had brought temptation into the lives of Adam and Eve and they abandoned their original righteousness and partook in the evil that they had been tempted with. Adam and Eve who belonged to God had fallen into sin and were completely corrupted with sin along with every other human [with the exception of Christ] to every be born.  This means that you and I have been corrupted by sin and were born blind, dead and enemies of God.  Evil would be how most people would describe Satan but it is also how humanity should be described as well. We don’t like talking in those terms, but that is the reality revealed to us in scripture.  When we don’t see sinfulness as evil we tend to excuse the sins that we commit and the sins that others whom we like commit.  Sinfulness comes from evil.  Sin flows from an evil heart.  Your sin is evil. My sin is evil because it is counter to the will of the one and only perfect and holy God.

Evil people belong to the evil one but that is not where the story ends.  Even in the face of sin and evil God makes a promise.  Genesis 3:14–15 (ESV) 14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” On the first Friday it was not known if its events were good or bad in fact we can see by the reaction of the followers of Christ they had no understanding that this was a good event because they could only see the second half of the promise from Genesis 3.  They could only see that the heel of Christ had been struck.  It appeared that Jesus had been struck down by the evil in this world which is led by the evil one himself. The words of Christ in which he spoke about his own resurrection time and time again in the gospels had either not been heard or they had not been understood.  It appeared as though evil had won.  It appeared that the death of Jesus was again nothing but hope coming and going.  It appeared that the world of the disciples was coming crashing down because all they could see was Christ being struck by death and since when has death ever been a good thing!

We have been walking through the Lord’s Prayer this Lenten season and tonight we find ourselves covering the 7th petition, “But deliver us from evil.”  If you were here last night you will have hopefully remembered that I talked about how the 6th and 7th petitions are connected with one another. We pray that Christ would lead us and because he is leading us in this world we know that there will be evil temptations no matter where he leads us, but we pray even more that he would deliver us from the evil that we will face today, tomorrow and the next day.  Delivering us from evil is what Christ came to do in the first place and it is what he continues to do today.  On that Friday that did not seem so good for the first disciples he was in fact delivering the disciples from evil, their own evils and the evil one himself. On that Friday that we know was good yet still seems so horrific Jesus was delivering us from evil, our own evil and the evil one.  The evil one who appeared to be victorious, who appeared to have gained the upper hand, whose head was about to be crushed by the heel of Jesus Christ our Lord.

“But deliver us from evil.” This is the petition that we can pray with boldness and confidence as those who know why this day is called Good Friday.  We know that we have been delivered and we know that Christ continues to deliver us even in the midst of a world and lives that at times seem only hopeless and filled with evil in every direction that we look. May we understand just as the early church understood as seen in the book of Acts, 22 that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.[1] When we look at our own lives and see the sins which are evils that we have perpetuated and perhaps continue to perpetuate we can cry out to the only one who has defeated evil.  When we see the result of evil in this world and in our own lives whether it is attacks, corruption, lies, greed, hatred, sexual immorality, or the despising of the gospel we can cry out to he who has crushed the head of the author of all evil in us and around us.  If and when that evil falls on each of us for the confession of faith in Christ that we hold may we be ever bold to pray “deliver us from evil” knowing Christ has the power to do so because he already has on that Good Friday.  When we face the consequence of sin and evil in this world and stare death in the face we can know that we have one who has gone before us and who has delivered us from the hand of the evil one that we might be in the arms of Christ for all eternity looking forward to Sunday, the Resurrection.

The cross is a horrific scene because Jesus was dealing with the horrific problem of evil and he delivered you from that evil.  In this life we know that just as our Savior faced evils we to will face evil still today.  Let us be ever so certain that it is Christ our Lord who has defeated the evil standing victorious for you and for me! Amen.

[1] Acts 14:22b (ESV)

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