Friday, March 29, 2002

Good Friday

Good Friday
March 29, 2002
The 7th Petition
“But Deliver Us From Evil”

Introduction:  Quite possibly Luther has saved the best for last. In the 7th petition we pray: “But deliver us from evil” Luther writes: “We pray in this petition, as the sum of all, that our Father in heaven would deliver us from every evil of body and soul, property and honor, and finally, when our last hour has come, grant us a blessed end, and graciously take us from this vale of tears to Himself in heaven”.

In this petition we ask God –

I.        To keep every evil from us.

The Lord promises us in Psalm 91 that He will keep us safe so that no harm or evil will overcome us. “If you make the Most High your dwelling –even the Lord, who is my refuge then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent” (vv.9-10) “God is our refuge and strength an even present help in all kinds of trouble” says David. (Psalm 46:1)  Thus we are called to have a triumphant confidence, a fearless trust in God.

The devil and sin would threaten our very existence - yet God in Christ has done something about our sin and the devil’s might. He dealt with our sins on a hill called Calvary when He suffered and died for our sins and the sins of the entire world. That’s why we have been taught to pray: “but deliver us from evil,” or as some put it, “but deliver us from the evil one”.

II.    In this prayer we ask God to take from us or to help us bear and turn to our benefit the cross with which He afflicts us.

Returning from Antioch Paul “Strengthened the disciples and encouraged them to remain true to the faith” (Acts 14:22) Those early Christians were tempted within and without. There were many crosses and temptations, challenges and persecutions placed “in their road”.  Yet, the Lord by His Word and Spirit kept them as they remained true to the faith.  To this day the Lord does this in your life and in my life as we pray with the hymn writer:

“Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Hea’vn’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

                    [TLH #552 stanza 8]

No matter what might befall us Christ remains with us.  In the book of Job, chapter 5, verse 19 we are told: “From six calamities He will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you” Though many trials may come to us Christ will see us through.  We can trust that these promises will be kept because Christ kept the greatest promise ever made when He went to the cross on a day called Good Friday. He suffered in our place so that we could receive forgiveness, life and salvation.

III. We pray in this petition that our dear redeemer would deliver us from all evil and finally lead us to a blessed end.

Paul writes in 2 Timothy: “The Lord will rescue me from every attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom” (v.18) When we know the Savior and are assured of His protection you and I can pray with Simian of old: “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace as you have promised. For my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all people. A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of Your people Israel” (vv.29-32)

We toil here on this earth where we are bombarded by the forces of the devil, the world and our own flesh. Our ultimate goal is to be with Jesus in glory.  That’s what St. Paul reminds us in his letter to the Philippians. Chapter 1 “I’m torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (v.23)

And that’s why today is called Good Friday. Christ has conquered and gained for us the victory. Hidden under the shadow of the cross we wait for a new day when we will be with the Lord. Until that day comes we can be assured that He will continue to deliver us from every form of evil. Yes you are covered and protected by the Savior.

Pilgrims here on earth and strangers
Dwelling in the midst of foes.
Us and ours preserve from dangers;
In Thine arms may we repose
And, when life’s sad day is past,
Rest with Thee in heav’n at last.

                    [TLH #553 stanza 2]     

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