O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Deliver us from Evil
Deliver us from Evil
Based on St. Luke 23:44-46
Preached on April 19, 2019
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“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” That’s a prayer of faith. Isn’t it? Jesus prays the prayer He learned from Mary and Joseph every night before He went to bed as a child. It was the “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” of the Old Testament. But here Jesus prays it in the hour of His death. “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He’s really in it now. He’s not avoiding it. He’s not running away. He was born for this. This is His life’s purpose. And He rehearsed for it every night as He lay down His head, “into your hands I commit my spirit.”
What trust! Even as He slips into death. Even when it appears that the Evil One has won! Because you gotta admit it – there is nothing you could add to this picture to make it look more like the devil has triumphed. Satan got one disciple to betray Him. Another to deny Him repeatedly. The rest to abandon Him. And now alone, with all Sin heaped on His shoulders, even God the Father leaves His beloved Son to suffer the damnation of hell as the sky turns to black and the sun and moon cover their eyes at the horror of all that Sin in one place. Satan must have been twitching his tail in glee! But even there - in that utter abandonment Jesus prays with trust: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” “Here goes Father. I’m still trusting You.”
Deliver us from evil. Easy for us to pray. Difficult for us to understand how God makes it happen. Because we’re not ready for what’s needed. We don’t realize what’s entailed. You can’t be delivered from evil from far away. Jesus has to be in the evil to do it. It has to be personal. The betrayal, the denial, the abandonment, the Sin, the torment of the devil, the forsakenness from the Father, the hell – He has to bring it in. Absorb it all into His person. Offer Himself defenselessly to it depths for it to crush Him. Strangle Him. Suffocate Him. Because only then does it lose its power on us. Deliver us from evil.
How many times have you prayed those words without considering what they mean? How many times have you asked that of your heavenly Father without realizing what you were really asking Him to do? To His Son? For you?
The Evil and its Punishment has to go somewhere. And if you and I are going to say “not us” – if we are going to ask the Father to deliver us – then it has to end up somewhere else – and that substitute is the Sinless One - God’s Lamb – His Only Son.
This One hanging here is the One who built the earth’s foundations. He’s the One who made the very place His flesh would be buried in ice cold. He’s the Holy One Himself. This is the Substitute.
But more than this, this Son is the One who taught us to pray for this. Can you even fathom that? This Substitute is the One who told us to ask for this – to beg His Father to take our Sin and put it on Him. To take the Evil that could befall us and make Him suffer it instead. He isn’t resisting this. He’s encouraging it. He isn’t afraid of this. His love for us overcomes all. It pours out His holy precious blood all over the ground. It suffers innocently right into death in order to blaze the path of your salvation. It owns your Sin so that it is no longer yours. Sin belongs to Christ now. So that you can’t have it. So that you don’t have to answer for it. He is the once for all atoning sacrifice for Sin. Not a single Sin left out.
With all His saving work accomplished for sinners Jesus prays with all boldness and confidence: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” He will not be abandoned in the grave. Death cannot hold Him. In three days the Scriptures will be fulfilled: raised from the dead on the third day. And then to the Father’s right hand in glory. Jesus knows the end game. For Him and for you.
You will die. That’s a fact. For some it will come sooner than later. Learn from Jesus how to die. Rehearse for it every day when you pray: “deliver us from evil.” For when you pray that way you pray with all boldness and confidence that when your last hour comes you trust that your heavenly Father will give you a blessed end. And that He will graciously take you from this valley of sorrow to Himself in heaven. And all of it - for Jesus’ sake - who died for you!
That’s the end game. It’s sure and certain. And the Evil One can’t do anything about it for you who trust in Jesus. This world’s prince may still scowl as fiercely as he wants. But he can’t harm you. He’s judged. The Good Friday deed is done. This one little petition can fell him! And your life is safe in Jesus who has crushed the Evil One.
“Deliver us from evil.” This petition is your peace when you die. Your very own Nunc Dimittis. You, like St. Simeon, can depart in peace. For your eyes have seen the Lord’s salvation. Jesus has come. Washed you in Baptism. “Delivered you from the dominion of darkness and transferred you to the kingdom of His beloved Son in whom you have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” In addition, your Lord’s body and blood in His Holy Supper is your medicine of immortality. So that what you now have by faith you will have by sight when He gives you a blessed end, takes you to Himself in heaven, and raises your body on the Last Day.
Until then, we are like St. Paul who, while facing imminent death wrote with all boldness and confidence: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom.” Until then we pray: “deliver us from evil.” In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr