In Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, the final request we make is not “deliver us from evil” but rather “do not subject us to the final test.” Is there a real difference? What does it mean?
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”
The final test refers to eschatology, the end times. In messianic Judaism, there was a very strong belief that all true believers would be subjected to a period of intense trial and suffering before coming into the presence of God. As you can imagine, this belief gave a rather foreboding sense of what the end times would be like. Jesus taught his followers that they should ask God to spare them from having to undergo the final test.
What does the final test have to do with us? Perhaps it refers to the final judgment, when our truest selves will be revealed to us just before our own judgment before the Father. Or perhaps Jesus has already endured the final test on our behalf through his passion, suffering and death.
You probably can guess which one I’m hoping is the answer!