Friday, April 2, 2010

Deliverance from Evil and the Cross of Christ

Good Friday
April 2, 2010
Luke 22:1—23:56

During Lent we have gathered here to meditate on what our Lord has done for us. God can do anything. What we are most grateful for, though, is that what He has done for us is because of His mercy. We know God has acted toward us in mercy because of the cross. If He acts toward us apart from that then He acts toward us in His eternal and holy wrath. If we seek Him apart from the cross we find only eternal damnation.

During Lent as we have meditated on the Lord’s Prayer we have done so in relation to the cross. We lift up our prayers because of the cross. Jesus gave us His Holy Prayer because He knew He would be going to the cross.

Now as Lent has come to its culmination in Good Friday we are met with that singular event. The cross. Jesus suffering in the place of the world. Offering up the prayer “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” so that we may offer the prayer “Our Father, who art in heaven.” The entire prayer of the Lord’s Prayer is a prayer for salvation. It is a prayer that God would act toward us in mercy. That He would save us and preserve us because of the cross.

Oftentimes when I hear a sermon or read a devotion or attend a Bible Study or listen to someone give a presentation on theology my mind is thinking about all the points that were left out. All the things that could also have been said but weren’t.

I can’t do that with the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus has put it all in there. Everything we need from God, it’s in there. He has given us the prayer we need that covers everything our Lord would give us in His mercy.

And if we’re not quite sure, if after we’ve prayed the Lord’s Prayer and think that perhaps something was left out—perhaps Jesus didn’t think of the exact situation we’re in—He has closed His Holy Prayer out with this petition: deliver us from evil. The reason He has done this is because everything we need, everything we think we need, even everything we want, is met in this petition.

Let’s be honest, we don’t know how to pray as we should. The very fact that the Lord’s Prayer might seem to be lacking, not addressing our every situation or need, shows us that we aren’t always so concerned that God act toward us in mercy as we are for Him to give us what we want.

We’re more than ready to pray to Him to deliver us from poverty. We are consumed with our prayers that He deliver us from struggles and trials and annoyances. We are intent on asking Him for those things which will make our lives more comfortable and better.

But what we truly need, and what Christ truly understands, is that we need to be delivered from evil. He understands this because He endured retribution for our evil on the cross. On the cross He delivered us from evil. Why would we concern ourselves with the petty things we so often pray for?

But no, we shouldn’t have the impression that some things are out of bounds to pray for. We are invited by God to pray for those things we need, and yes even the things we want. He has taught that we pray for those things according to His eternal holy gracious merciful will. So pray away! Pray for those things you need. Pray for those things you want.

But as you pray, pray that His will would be done. And what is His will? That you be delivered from evil. Because, you see, the thing we get tripped up on is this desire that God’s will would be in line with ours, rather than praying that He would conform our will to His. Our will is too often what we want. His will is that we be delivered from evil. That’s why He went to the cross. That’s what he endured, evil. Our sins, our guilt, our punishment, were all laid on Him. That’s God’s will. That’s how He delivered us from evil.

That’s why we pray the Lord’s Prayer. That’s how we pray the Lord’s Prayer. Because of the cross. When we pray, Deliver us from evil, we also give thanks that He has. In His mercy, on the cross. Amen.


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