Words of Hope: Handling Evil

I have heard two sermons now on the devil. They are both wildly confusing and humbling stories. The first is about Job. Satan demands to sift Job like wheat, to crush his faith and get him to curse God. When Job asks God about ultimate evil, God responds, “Can you put the devil on a leash and give him to your daughter as a pet?”  

This story stuns me because I can see how cavalier or terrified I can be around evil. Can I control evil? Job is told Satan’s attacks are unrestrained. Nothing can be done without God. With God, evil is held in check, contained, leashed, and eventually will be fully destroyed.  

In the second story, Satan uses Judas for his purposes. He prompts Judas, setting him up for his betrayal. Once Judas is set up, “Satan enters Judas” and he becomes the hands, feet, mind, eyes, and the vessel for the Devil.   

What does Jesus do in the face of this? He washes the disciples’ feet. He humbles himself. He disrobes and takes on the nature of a servant. He serves more, He humbles himself more.  

He also acknowledges evil. He is deeply troubled by evil, and he points out evil. He allows and trusts God to use evil for ultimate good. I meditate on each of these thoughts and ideas.  

Job can only submit to God when faced with the unleashed power of evil. After Job is smitten by evil, God restores him and asks him to pray for his friends’ forgiveness for angering God by their accusations and presumptions of Job. Forgiveness and restoration in the face of evil.  

In the face of betrayal and Satan’s direct attack, Jesus humbles himself, He serves, and submits to the will of God to do what only God can do. He forgives, He gives His life into God’s hands. Thus, God subverts evil. Not through vengeance but through the cross, through forgiveness, through surrender to the will of God.  

I consider how Jesus was deeply troubled by Judas Iscariot’s betrayal. Satan desires to deceive, Jesus knew what he was doing. Satan desires to divide, Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and tells them to love one another. Satan desires to depress, Jesus broke bread and drank with His disciples. He led the way to the eucharist in the face of betrayal. Satan desires to destroy, Jesus rendered Himself as a guilt offering, willing to die to overcome death. Jesus understood that death cannot destroy.   

I think of these stories considering my friend’s questions, “Why is there so much evil in the world and what can we do in the face of such evil?” God shows us the way forward through the story of Job and Jesus. In light of evil, Jesus shows us the way.   

The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him…. After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” 

His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” 

Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 

Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. 

So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”  – John 13:2-5 and 22-27