By Paul Koch –
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be Thy name,
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven;
give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
For as long as we can remember we’ve made that petition, “Deliver us from evil.” Deliver us from evil, from sin, from death, from guilt, from shame. Deliver us from our complacency and lack of discipleship. Deliver us from taking for granted your gifts. Deliver us on this night of your holy passion. The Catechism teaches us that this petition of the Lord’s Prayer is prayed as a summary of the whole thing. What an incredible way to see it. After all if God’s name is kept holy among us, if his kingdom comes and his will is done on earth as it is in heaven, if we receive our daily bread as gifts from his hands, if we are forgiven our sins and not led into temptation then we most certainly would find ourselves being delivered from evil. The prayer given to us by our Lord then focuses us on his great work of deliverance, but who could have imagined the way in which that deliverance would come?
Who knew that for God’s name to be holy in your life the only begotten Son of God would drink the cup of his father’s wrath? Did we know that when we prayed for his kingdom to come that it would mean that the Son of God would know the brutal scorn of mankind? We had no idea that for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven God would offer up his own pure son for our sins. For our daily bread God would break the body of Christ, for forgiveness of your sins he would punish Jesus, for your protection from great temptations he would refuse to protect his own Son. Who would have guessed that to deliver us from evil God would deliver him who knew no sin to become sin itself for us?
Now we don’t like to look honestly at these realities. We would rather turn our faces away from the sight of a suffering and dying Lord. But not tonight, no not on this night, not when we pray “deliver us from evil.” Let us look at the cost of our deliverance. Look as the Word of God, the Word that spoke all creation into being, the Word that governs the heavens and the earth; look as he is lifted up on Calvary’s mount in agony. This Word has emptied himself of all power and glory; it takes on our form, our flesh, our humility. Out of love for you, out of compassion that is beyond our comprehension, the Word lets go of glory and embraces a cross. Don’t you dare hide your eyes from him tonight, for his body is broken for you his blood pours out for you.
Rather consider this night the depth of your depravity and the seriousness of your sin. How great must your sins have been if it took the death of the physician himself to heal you. How diseased must your flesh be if only the life-giving flesh of the Son of God could clean it. No, don’t look away but watch as he who rules heaven with the Father is shamefully abused at the hands of sinners. God suffers, God weeps, God sheds his blood for you, for your deliverance, for your salvation. Can you ever again make light of your sin? Can you look him in the eyes and say that your failings don’t matter, that they aren’t that bad? We pray, “Deliver us from evil” so let’s look upon the cost of our deliverance.
So we look upon our Lord as he hangs upon a tree. We see his gaping wounds and the agony of his death. Look at this head, before it the angels in heaven bow in reverent feat yet now it is pierced with a crown of thorns. Look at his face, a face of peace and hope but now it is defiled by the spit of the ungodly. Look at his ears which must have been accustomed to hearing the praises of the heavenly hosts as they are now filled with insults and taunts of sinners. Look at his feet kissed by the saints of God, as they are now pierced with nails. Look at his hands, which stretched out the heavens, as they are fastened to the cross with spikes.
Look at your Lord; look at his agony, there was no part of his body left uninjured by the acts of men, nothing except his tongue – so that he might pray for those who crucified him.
We ask, “Lord, deliver us from evil,” and tonight we look at that deliverance in the face. The Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world lifts his head and looks to you, he cries out from the cross, “Look and behold what I am suffering for you, I cry out to you because it is for you that I am dying. Look at the punishment which I bear for you. Look at the nails which pierce my skin and bone, there is no grief like my grief. And though outwardly my suffering is so great, far greater is the anguish of my heart because I have found you to be so ungrateful.”
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy, amen.