Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Narnia Christmas

I have yet to meet a child that didn’t like magic. As a matter of fact, every Christmas Eve, I do a little magic show for my kids and even my teenage daughters enjoy it. Every trick is tied to something in the Christmas story. Perhaps the reason children enjoy this is that their innocent hearts know there is something to it. I’m not saying magicians like David Copperfield are really flying between buildings and making the Statue of Liberty disappear. I’m saying that there is a real and noble “magic” in the world that lives in the realm of God’s workings. And, perhaps more than any other time, Christmas makes us think of such realities. If you’ve seen The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, you know that there is an unbending law that governs all of Narnia. It is called “the deep magic” and is binding on all residents of the land. It is the natural law of Narnia written by the Emporer-beyond-the-Sea which cannot be violated without destroying the Narnian Universe. At one point in the story, a character named Edmund betrays his siblings. And the deep magic of Narnia says that when there is such a betrayal, the betrayer must forfeit his life as an act of justice. Edmund eventually realizes that he’s been tricked by the White Witch and feels sorry for betraying his brother and sisters, but justice demands that his sin be paid for nevertheless. And there is a scene in the movie where the White Witch demands that Edmund be punished for his crime because the deep magic demands it. Listen to the White Witch as she cites the deep magic to Aslan: “You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to kill.” Later she talks about Aslan’s knowledge of the deep magic and says, “He knows the Deep Magic better than that. He knows that unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.” Because Edmund sinned, justice demanded that the sin be paid for. What’s interesting about this is that Narnian law reflects universal law in our world. An articulation of this law is found in the Bible in Hebrews 9:22: In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9:22 (NIV) This is cosmic, divine justice. Sin must be paid for. Wrong must be made right. Sin must be penalized. Another way of putting it is: sin always results in a sacrifice. All of us have committed many sins. We’ve betrayed our families and our friends. We’ve all stolen and cheated and lied and slandered and gossiped. All of us have committed so many sins against the real, deep magic that we couldn’t count all of them. But here’s the great news about Christmas. We have hope. You see, there is a deeper magic than even the deep magic. The Bible calls it a number of things. It’s known as the “New Covenant” (or the “New Testament”), the “Law of Faith,” and the “Law of the Spirit.” In Narnia, the deeper magic states that if someone who is perfect and without sin takes the penalty of the sinner on himself, the deep magic will be appeased and death will be reversed. Forgiveness will be offered to the sinner. Remember, the most traumatic part of the story is when Aslan is humiliated and killed on the stone table by the White Witch. Aslan doesn’t fight back at all and voluntarily offers himself. Soon after this, Lucy and Susan (Edmund’s sisters) hug Aslan’s dead, shaven body and weep over him thinking all is lost. Lucy says she’s cold. Winter is without Christmas. But when they get up to leave, something happens. All of a sudden, Aslan’s body is gone and the stone table breaks in two: “. . . though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” When Jesus came on the original Christmas, He came to give his perfect life to appease the true deep magic, the Law. He came to sacrifice Himself for our sins as the Law demanded. He appeased moral justice. And when he died, the holy curtain in the Temple in Jerusalem actually ripped apart like the stone table broke apart in Narnia. With the death of Jesus all sacrifices for sin were paid in full. The Old Testament temple sacrificial system was no longer needed. The stone table is no longer necessary. All that is required for the sins of the entire world has been paid. Look at Hebrews 9:15. Christ came with this new agreement so that all who are invited may come and have forever all the wonders God has promised them. For Christ died to rescue them from the penalty of the sins they had committed while still under that old system. Hebrews 9:15 (TLB) We’re not under the deep magic any more, we’re under the deeper magic of God’s grace. Christmas is about a plan that God conceived to save the human race from it’s own destruction. It’s about God’s Son coming to Earth and dealing with our sins. Now, with all that in mind, here’s an idea. During the Christmas Season, watch the movie The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe with your kids and tell them about the deeper, true magic of Jesus Christ. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:8-14 (NIV) Merry Christmas! Pastor Rusty