Good Friday - 2017
In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
But deliver us from evil. You may not have noticed, because generally we aren't watching each other while we pray the Lord's Prayer, but when we get to the 7th Petition, I generally make the sign of the cross. And I do this for a specific reason. When we pray “deliver us from evil” we aren't dealing with something abstract, we aren't dealing with merely a pious wish for better days. No, we are Christians, we know what evil is, what it looks like, what it does. Sin is evil. Sin breaks things. Sin causes suffering. Sin kills. And that is what we see around us so often, it's even what we see in us, in our own sinful flesh. We see evil, evil at work. And we call out to God for deliverance from this evil – and that is what Christ Jesus does by going to the cross. It is in our Lord's death and passion that you are delivered from evil. In undergoing His passion, our Lord acts like a giant sponge for evil, taking it all up, taking it onto Himself, taking it away from us and delivering us from evil. So let us spend a few moments pondering our Lord's passion through the lens of “deliver us from evil.”
We pray in this petition, in summary, that our Father in heaven would rescue us from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation, and finally, when our last hour comes give us a blessed end. There are five evils, or angles of evil that get listed there: Body, Soul, Possessions, Reputation, and Death. You do realize that these are what Christ Jesus faces down in His Passion? Take evils of the body. Consider the Passion of your Lord. So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound Him. Arrested without cause, bound, and confined. When He had said these things, one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand. And that's just the start of the beatings – Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged Him. Then He bears His own cross upon His own weary Body, and on that Cross His body is tortured to death. Every imaginable evil of body – taken up by Christ.
Or evil of the soul. From the passion accounts we remember the 7 words of Christ from upon the Cross – John records three. Consider one of them – Jesus cries out, “Woman, behold your son – son, behold your mother.” How about that for an evil that wrenches the soul – John, you're going to have to take care of My mom because I am dying. Or what we heard Sunday in Matthew – My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Jesus your Lord takes up the evil of abandonment, of being snatched from life and of being taken from those you love, of being dumped into the midst of sin. Every imaginable evil of soul – taken up by Christ.
Or evil of possessions. Christ doesn't have much to begin with, yet even the little He has is taken away. “When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took His garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also His tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, 'Let us not tear it, but cast lots to see whose it shall be.'” Even His clothing is taken, and He is left to die naked on a cross. Everything, every possession gone and stolen unjustly. How about that – to be hanging on a cross and watching them gamble for the few things you had owned. What could be more humiliating or denigrating? And then, they take care not to tear the tunic when they have pounded nails into your Hands! Everything stolen and despoiled. Every imaginable evil of possessions – taken up by Christ.
Or evil of reputation. What people think of you, what they say of you. Consider when Pilate addresses the crowd: “I find no guilt in Him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber. To be thought of as lower, as worse than a highway man, a bandit, a terrorist – that's who Barabbas was. To be called a King, but only to be mocked – They came up to Him, saying, 'Hail, King of the Jews!' and struck Him with their hands. Indeed, to take one who is utterly innocent and treat Him in such a way, to crucify Him with criminals. Every imaginable evil of reputation – taken up by Christ.
One evil left. We pray that God would give us a blessed end. Now consider your Lord upon the Cross. Nailed there. Left to slowly suffocate, to be tortured and exhausted to death. This is not good death, this is not a good way to die. Horribly painful. But even then, it's not a private pain in a private room – no, it's in public. You realize why they crucified Jesus on Calvary – because it was a hill by the side of the road. The Cross was a billboard – an advertisement showing forth the power and might of Rome, and this is what we will do to you if you don't toe the line – this is what will happen to you if you cross the High Priests. You will be left to hang naked and cold and exposed, your shame open for all to see, until you die. Pain and embarrassment all wrapped up. Every imaginable evil aspect of death – taken up by Christ.
Do you see? Throughout His passion, more and more evil just flows on to Christ, it rolls on to Him, pours on to Him. All our evil, all our sin, the weight and wretchedness of it all, clinging to Him there upon the Cross – and having taken it all upon Himself, when He drank to the dregs the cup of the bitterness of evil, “He said, ' It is finished,' and He bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.”
It is finished. All of it. All evil is finished in Christ. He has taken it all – taken it all away from you and onto Himself. Indeed, the evil that we see in our lives, in our days – these are just the dying aftershocks of sin, death, and evil. They are destroyed, destroyed by Christ upon the Cross. And so that you would know this truth, Christ Jesus gives up His Spirit, He pours His Spirit upon you. Having taken up your sin, He gives you the Holy Spirit and His own life and righteousness, so that you are well and truly and thoroughly delivered from evil. No evil here that you see can touch you now, not in any lasting way, for You belong to Christ. He has purchased and won you from all evil with His precious blood and death – and even when you die, when evil tries to do it's worst to you – you are delivered from it, you will rise again to new life because Christ has said it is finished and so evil is. You will live – for Christ has died... and as we will see come the third day, He is risen. In the Name of Christ the Crucified +