Summary: What do we mean when we pray "deliver us from evil"?
People have always been divided about Jesus. I have known folks who are so “sold-out” to Jesus they drive everybody else crazy. They come across like the butcher who wanted to be a good soul-winner, so he took some training in personal evangelism and memorized all the scriptures and the questions to ask.
As he was opening up the meat market early one morning he made up his mind that he would tell the first customer all about Jesus. He was deep in thought as he was chopping up some beef steaks, going over the memorized presentation in his mind; so he didn’t notice the little old lady who wandered into the store. Excuse me, she began. The butcher looked-up in “mid-chop,” and, with the cleaver held high, launched his witness campaign – Lady, are you prepared to die?
On the aisle of division over Jesus, somewhat closer to the neutral position on the line, are those who are not so fanatic; Jesus is one of many influences in their lives, mostly a private issue they don’t care to talk about out loud, or other than in church on Sunday. But, of course the dividing line has the “other side,” where there is skepticism, doubt and downright hostility towards Jesus, historically, personally or as Divine; simple unbelief!
In this text there are three simple pictures about Jesus’ point:
• What he brought to the world
• The reaction it caused
• Why that happened
What Jesus Brought
“I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! LUKE 12:49-50 (NRSV)
The fire Jesus brought is not judgment, but rather salvation, cleansing from sin. He was talking about the baptism of the cross. It was the reason He came into the world….to offer his life, to pay our debt of sin.
The Reaction Salvation Caused
Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” LUKE 12:51-53 (NRSV)
There is hardly a family that is not divided in some way; religious faith is a big part of that equation.
I have a friend who is a fellow-pastor. In the place, and faith group in which she grew up, women are not pastors. She has been serving as a pastor for nearly 10 years; not a single member of her family has ever heard her preach. They don’t believe women should be pastors, so she is the pariah – she is divided from the family. When it comes to Jesus, why are we humans so divided?
Why That Happened
He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘It is going to rain’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? LUKE 12:51-53 (NRSV)
These three verses share the germ of an answer to one of the most misunderstood realities of the postmodern era, namely that the division we see over belief and unbelief in Jesus was not/is not the point or purpose of Jesus’ coming – it is simply the effect caused by free will.
I have been asked so many times, Preacher, why are there so many different denominations? We are free to choose…and we do! That’s not Jesus’ doing…it’s ours!
Notice, however, that Jesus drives home the one crucial point about our choosing which should clear up a lot of misunderstanding. He says that we are intelligent…we have the ability to even forecast the weather…rain, heat, etc.
If Jesus had come in the 21st century he would have made mention of moon landings, computers and nano-technology. BUT…as much as we are intellectually-advanced, we are spiritually-stunted; we are hypocrites when it comes to Jesus. We know the truth about God, but act as if we are innocent. This is what makes our sin “first-degree” – the premeditation factor – we know deep-down that we are alienated from God, and therefore need a bridge back to God, but we have the free will to reject God’s free gift. And that’s what we choose – our way, not His!
Deliver us from evil? He did!
We often pray the Lord’s Prayer. In that prayer we have the antidote for this sickness of hypocrisy….IF we will mean it like Jesus taught it, when we pray it: