Good Friday (April 3, 2015)
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Rev. Todd A. Peperkorn
TITLE: “Deliver Us from Evil”
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen. Our text for today is the Gospel just read from St. John chapter eighteen and nineteen.
Deliver us from evil. Those are the final words of our Lord’s Prayer that He gave to His disciples, and to us. Deliver us from evil. Deliver us from the evil one. This prayer only really makes sense if God has both the ability to save us, and the desire to save us.
We see the answer to both these questions in our Lord’s Passion and death.
Can God save us from the evil one? Yes he can. But the way He saves us is unexpected. He saves us by becoming one of us. Really He saves us by becoming us. Or even stranger, He becomes sin, takes sin into Himself, as St. Paul writes in Second Corinthians: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV) And as we well know, if you are a sinner, you die. It’s just that simple. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 ESV)
So does God have the ability to save you? Yes, He does. The cost is, if it were even possible, higher than you could possibly imagine. The cost for your salvation is death. It will be either your eternal death, or someone has to stand in for you, act as your substitute, take your place and die your death so that you can live His life. So it is that at the end of our Lord’s life, we hear the following from St. John’s Gospel:
“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:30 ESV)
What is finished? Everything. Your salvation and deliverance from every evil of body and soul, possessions and reputation. That is the work of God (opus Dei), the great and mighty task of this world, which only He could do. And He has done it.
One ancient Good Friday liturgy puts it this way:
A dread and marvelous mystery we see come to pass this day. He whom none may touch is seized; he who looses Adam from the curse is bound. He who tries our hearts and inner thoughts is unjustly brought to trial. He who closed the abyss is shut in prison. He before whom the powers of heaven stand with trembling, stands before Pilate; the Creator is struck by the hand of a creature. He who comes to judge the living and the dead is condemned to the cross; the Destroyer of hell is enclosed in a tomb. Byzantine liturgy; A Triduum Sourcebook 1, 83
So yes, He is able to save you, but has He done it for you? That is really the question, isn’t it? Given everything that you have done, all of your sin and guilt, all of your filthiness and unworthiness, has He really done it for you?
The answer to that question is a resounding YES. He has done it for the whole world, and He has indeed done it for you. He has done this because you are His dear child and heir. We call Him Our Father because Jesus Christ is our Brother. And this Brother is always faithful, always looking out for you, loves at all times, and will do anything, anything for you.
Now because of this, because Christ loves you and has saved you, there is nothing on this earth that you cannot face without fear. One theologian put it this way:
Jesus’ death, the ultimate horror of all history, for your sins. If you can face that, then there is nothing you cannot face, nothing you have to shut out or pretend isn’t there in all the hideous, twisted evil that we can see about us. There is no misery that goes deeper than the cross. The Crucified One is there and deeper down still. Everything that would destroy us Jesus has faced, and it did not destroy Him nor does it destroy those who are His. Norman Nagel, Selected Sermons of Norman Nagel, pg. 231
So do not be afraid of the cross and suffering, even death itself. Jesus Christ has died for your sins, and by that death He has delivered you from all evil, from the evil one, and from hell itself. Do not shy away from the cross, as if it is a mere stopping point on to the Easter breakfast. Wait. Meditate. Listen. Remember. Hear the words again and again, for in His cross is your very life. It is here, at the cross, that He delivers you from all evil.
Believe it for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
And now the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in true faith to life everlasting. Amen.