The Lion, The Witch, and Me
The Lion, The Witch, & Me
How the Gospel I learned in a children’s book taught me the meaning of Christmas
It was just like any other Saturday morning: I slept in until around 8:30 a.m., I cuddled in a little closer to my husband for a minute or two, and typically, I'd reach for my phone to read any text messages I missed during the night, but on this day, I went straight to my emails. I had emailed to myself a blog post from a site run by a prominent preacher/author and was looking forward to reading it. The post was written by staff writer, John Bloom, titled “Enter the Dragon-Slayer: How God Took Satan’s Breath Away.” It was a take on the Christmas story from the vantage point not commonly discoursed: Satan’s. But first, Bloom gives some context by telling of the drama played out in heaven before our universe was created in which Satan, then a prince of heaven, fostered pride in the deepest recesses of his heart that consequently turned toxic, contaminating his every thought, word, and deed. He elevated himself above God, and the greater he became in his own eyes, the more noxious his pride became. He detested the human race and this disgust toward the Image-Bearers of God led this snake to enter the Garden of Eden hoping to bring the fate of the first couple (and all of humanity) down to Sheol with him.
We all know what happened in that Garden: The Snake tempts Eve into eating from the only tree that God commanded them NOT to eat from despite the fact that He had given them everything else. He initiates a dialogue that he hopes gets Eve to not only question God's goodness, but to have her wonder if God was withholding anything else from her and Adam.
"Did God actually say 'you shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" Satan asked Eve (Gen. 3:1) --- Even his question is a twisting of what was originally said because God told Adam they could eat from every tree, except one.
Eve responded in a way most of us do when we want to justify doing the thing we are tempted to do:
• She added to what God truly said ("We may eat...but God said 'you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden ...neither shall you touch it..." v.3)
• And she downplayed the consequences ("lest you die." v.3. What God really said was, "...you shall surely die" (Gen. 2:16).
The Snake responded by mixing in lies among truth (Genesis 3:4-5):
• "You will not surely die" (lie).
• "your eyes will be opened" (true)
• "And you will be like God" (lie)
• "Knowing good and evil" (true)
(WARNING: The false teacher will always rely on you not knowing what God's Word really says. Read the Bible for yourself, and struggle with the text firsthand. Don’t rely on what someone else says about the Bible, including myself. Guard your heart by guarding your mind. Be sober-minded and live an informed faith.The false teacher will sprinkle in lies with truth in hopes that you can't tell the difference. Practice a discerning mind, not just to know the difference between true and false, but to also know the difference between true and almost true.)
Eve looked at the forbidden fruit. Eve desired it. Eve took it. Eve ate it. Then she gave it to her husband and he ate it, too. (Gen. 3:6). Sin is so dangerous that you can fall in its trap just by looking at it. Oh be careful little eyes what you see....
Eating the fruit wasn’t just disobedience, it was also an act of rebellion against a holy God. Physical and spiritual death had entered the world. The Snake thought he had won. Before Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden, God declared curses on the Serpent, and stated how the couple's act of rebellion would affect childbearing, their relationship to each other, and man's relationship to the earth. But God also declares a sliver of Hope for mankind in the midst of this. To the unredeemable serpent God says,
"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (Gen. 3:15). This verse points forward to the defeat of the Snake by a future descendant of a woman who will crush his head. The blow to the head is fatal. A blow to the heel is not. This verse is labeled the "Protoevangelium”, the first announcement of the gospel.
In his blog post, Bloom writes, “…unknown to the [Snake], mysterious decrees had been uttered by the High King in the secret counsel of his will ages before the [Snake] existed, conceived in wisdom unimaginable to a [Snakely] mind.”
I read Bloom’s words and was immediately reminded of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” in which a scene in the film adaptation (the dialogue is different in the book) shows the White Witch and Aslan discussing the terms of restitution for Edmund’s betrayal. In front of all present, the White Witch haughtily says, “You have a traitor in your midst, Aslan.”
Aslan despondently replies, “His offense was not against you.”
The White Witch, with the vilest, foulest joy of evil in her eyes says, “Have you forgotten the laws on which Narnia was built?” See, by this point, Aslan had already told her he would give his life for Edmund's.
Aslan roars mightily and the Witch instinctively flinches and cowers under his apparent Authority.
“DO NOT CITE THE DEEP MAGIC TO ME, WITCH. I WAS THERE WHEN IT WAS WRITTEN.”
C.S. Lewis writes:
“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…Death itself would start working backward.”
The Witch could hardly contain her excitement with Aslan's impending death. She reveled in the thought of a permanent victory over her adversary. What she didn't know was that Aslan wouldn't stay dead.
As a child reading "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe", I hated and resented Edmund. I wanted him to die instead because he deserved it! But, as an adult, I find myself weeping from a place of gratitude that God-Incarnate would take my place instead. The Savior and Redeemer of the world would have to willingly give his life in place of those who deserved the just wrath of God. Jesus did that for us. We are the Edmunds of this story
So, Adam and Eve are banished from the Garden (a just act because how can Holiness live with the unholy? But it was also an act benevolent mercy for God did not want them to eat from the Tree of Life also which would have consequently kept them frozen forever to live in a state of death). God was well within His right to annihilate them right then and there, and it would have been completely just for Him to do so. God was also within His right to banish them, naked, to endure more shame. Rather, in His grace, He kindly clothed them with garments of skin before he cast them out of His presence (Gen 3:21). An innocent animal had to die in order for its skin to be used as a garment. God had provided the first sacrifice. He would also provide the Last and Final One.
C.S Lewis had a beautiful way of explaining deep theological truths to children. Even as young child, I still vividly remember the tingling in my chest every time Aslan showed up in the story. I didn’t know why. I just did. As I grew older and started reading the Bible for myself I began to understand as I felt the same tingle anytime I read of a Christ type in the Old Testament and when Jesus Himself walked on the stage of Redemptive History in the New. Unbeknownst to me, reading Narnia introduced me to the gospel I so easily understood as a child (to the extent that my mind could comprehend at that age).
The Christmas Story is often depicted as a peaceful time mostly seen during church productions and low-budget television adaptations. In reality, the occasion was stained with scandal: the Savior of the world was conceived in the womb of an unwed, teenage girl---a situation punishable by death by stoning had her betrothed decided to divorce her and shame her publicly to keep his own reputation in tact. Instead, because Joseph was a just man and unwilling to put Mary to shame, he heeded the angel who appeared to him in a dream telling him that the Son Mary was carrying was conceived of the Holy Spirit and not by man (Matt. 1:20). So Joseph took Mary as his wife and essentially adopted The Deliverer that all of Israel had waited centuries for.
Additionally, it was also marked by the genocide of children: After the visit of the Wise Men from the East, the paranoid puppet-King at the time, Herod, had decreed a state-sponsored infanticide after being told that the "King of the Jews" had been born in Bethlehem. He wanted no rival, so he demanded all male children in Bethlehem and the surrounding region, dead (Matt. 16-18). Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt with Baby Jesus to avoid his execution (Matt. 2:13-15). The "silence" of that night was broken by the blood-curdling screams of Hebrew baby boys age 2 and under being slaughtered and assassinated (Matt 2:16). It was by no means a silent night. It was not calm, and it was not bright. The grief of the mothers and fathers compounded by the deathly cries of their infants and toddlers exponentially pronounced the wailing heard that night. It was a legal genocide of innocent babies. It was a dark time.
But, this Christmas, we remember the Great Light that pierced that darkness, and the reason why we celebrate: the Savior of the world came to earth, veiled His glory in human flesh as a helpless baby with the purpose of dying a criminal's death at the age of 33 as payment for the penalty of sin that ought to have been paid by you and me. This is why for the Christian, Christmas is Merry.
This Savior has many names: Jesus, Yeshua, The Last & Final Sacrifice, The Word, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, The Sacrificial Lamb of God, The Lion of Judah, amongst a host of many others befitting a King. My 9-year-old simply refers to Him as The Snake-Crusher. He first came as a Baby to die in our place, and whether you believe it or not, He is coming back again on a day in an hour we do not know, to finally set things right, to finally crush the head of the snake, and to take His rightful place as King.
Christmas not only celebrates His first coming, but it anticipates His Second Coming. So, we say, come Lord Jesus, come.