Finding God in Narnia part 3
The Stone Table
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
January 1, 2006

 

Well, for the past couple of weeks we’ve been talking about Finding God in Narnia. We’ve been looking at The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – either the movie or the book – and we’ve been drawing out of them some Christian themes that we can learn from. Two weeks ago we look at one of the title characters… the Lion, Aslan… and we saw that in the land of Narnia the lion represented Jesus. In Narnia, we’re told that Aslan is on the move, and we discover that with him comes hope and goodness and power and salvation. And it’s the same with Jesus… He is also on the move and He brings hope and goodness and power and salvation for each of us.

Last week, we focused in on the land of Narnia itself. As C.S. Lewis describes in the book, Narnia is a land where it is always winter and never Christmas. And so we talked about what it would be like if it really were never Christmas. What if that first Christmas never happened? What if Jesus had never come to earth as a baby? How would this world be different? And the main thing we saw was that if Jesus had never come, we would still be lost to our sinfulness. But He did come, and He came to offer us freedom and new life and peace with God and a second chance.

And during these past two weeks, I’ve done a pretty good job of not spoiling the movie for you. Well, all that’s about to change. This message this morning does contain spoilers. So if you’re planning on seeing the movie or reading the book, and if you don’t want to know the climax, then leave now or forever hold your peace. None of us will think less of you or be offended. Well, we will, but we’ll get over it.

Let’s review. The story begins with four young children discovering a wardrobe which is actually an entrance into another world… the world of Narnia. Peter is the eldest, Susan is next, then Edmund, and little Lucy. And shortly after the enter Narnia, they learn that the land is under a curse. For 100 years, the White Witch Jadis has ruled the land, and during that entire time it has been a cold, bleak place. It has been a land where it is always winter, never Christmas. The land is populated by talking animals and all sorts of mystical and mythical creatures… some on the side of the evil Jadis, and some on the side of Aslan. Aslan was the true king of the land, but had been absent for a long time. But word has spread that “Aslan is on the move.” He is returning, and when he arrives, all will be set right again.

But something terrible happens. Edmund betrays his brother and his sisters. We’ll talk about how and why next week, but what you need to know right now is that Edmund chooses to side with the White Witch, a mistake which he recognizes is a mistake only too late. And he is trapped by the White Witch. And the Witch uses Edmund against the others. So it was up to the others to rescue him.

And so they do… kind of. Aslan sends his forces after the White Witch and frees Edmund and brings him back to their camp. But there’s more to it than that. Shortly after this happens, the White Witch comes to Aslan’s camp to meet with him and demands that Edmund be returned to her. Listen to what happened when they met…
 

“Have you forgotten the Deep Magic?” asked the Witch.

“Let us say I have forgotten it,” answered Aslan gravely. “Tell us of this Deep Magic.”

“Tell you?” said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. “Tell you what is written on that very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the fire-stones on the Secret Hill? Tell you what is engraved on the scepter of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to kill… And so that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property... unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.”

“It is very true,” said Aslan, “I do not deny it.”
 

And she was right. Not even Aslan could ignore the Deep Magic. In Narnia, the Deep Magic referred to spiritual laws or spiritual realities, and nothing could be done to change them. They had to be honoured. Edmond, a son of Adam, had betrayed his brother and sisters as well as Aslan. He was a traitor, and because of a decree from the dawn of time, the White Witch had rightful claim on any traitor. Edmund was her property.

We’ll get back to the story in a few minutes, but let’s talk about what the Bible says about our Deep Magic… about our spiritual realities. First, it tells us that we are all traitors against God.

 

Our Deep Magic (Spiritual Realities):

1. We are all traitors against God.

Edmund turned his back on his sisters and his brother and even Aslan, in order to selfishly seek after his own pleasure and power and prestige. And they’re the same reasons we turn away from God today. Adam and Eve first rebelled against God because they believed the deception that they could become gods themselves. And we’ve all inherited their rebellion. It’s what’s called “original sin”… the sin of Adam and Eve passed down through every generation. And even today, we continue to rebel against God seeking our own power and pleasure and prestige. And none of us is without fault. That’s why the Bible says…

Romans 3:23 (NLT)
For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.

Underline “all”. We’ve all failed to meet up to God’s standards. Oh, I may be a nice guy and you may be a good neighbour, but that doesn’t cut it. God doesn’t grade on a curve. And for Him, any sin at all is too much. So that one time you lashed out in anger… it tainted you. That one time you disobeyed your parents… it tainted you. That one time you lusted for someone you’re not married to… it tainted you. That one time you were jealous of what someone else had… it tainted you. And you might say, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” Exactly! Now you’re beginning to understand. We all fall short of God’s expectations for our lives. We’ve all failed Him… we’ve all betrayed Him.

Romans 3:10,20 (NLT)
As the Scriptures say, “No one is good—not even one.”
For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it.

Now, in Narnia, what happened to Edmund because he betrayed the others? He became captive to the White Witch who was ruling the land of Narnia at the time. And because of our betrayal, we are captive to Satan, the prince of this world.

 

2. Because of our betrayal we are captive to Satan, the prince of this world.

Because of this underlying current of sinfulness that flows throughout humanity, every person born into this world belongs to Satan. We are all slaves to our sin nature, and we’re powerless to do anything about it. As Paul wrote…

Romans 7:14,19,25 (NLT)
The trouble is not with the law but with me, because I am sold into slavery, with sin as my master…
When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway…
In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.

Does that sound familiar? I’m sure that every one of us, if we were honest, would have to say that describes us. At least, it describes us without God. We really are powerless to overcome the forces of evil on our own. We are slaves to them. We are captive to our evil desires. And you know what that means? I’ll show you what that means…

1 John 3:8 (NLT)
But when people keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the Devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.

Edmund betrayed the others because he had met up with the White Witch and she was able to deceive him and lure him in with false promises. Satan used the same techniques with us. Listen to this description of his methods…

Revelation 12:9 (NLT)
This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the Devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world…

He’s a deceiver. He lies and he manipulates you, and he gets you any way he can.

 

3. A price must be paid for our rebellion.

The White Witch was fast to point out that, because of Edmund’s betrayal, there was a price to be paid. And that price, according to the Deep Magic, was Edmund’s life. His very blood now belonged to her. That was the penalty for his betrayal. And it was a death sentence. And not even Aslan, the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea, could veto it. The price had to be paid, no exceptions.

The Bible also tells us that a price must be paid for our rebellion against God. And that price is death. Because of our rebellion, we all have earned the sentence of death.

Romans 6:23 (NLT)
For the wages of sin is death…

Hebrews 9:22 (NLT)
Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.

Now, here’s where we run into a bit of a dilemma. I mean, God’s a God of love, right? Don’t we talk about how God is love? And if God is love, wouldn’t He want to just wipe our slate clean and forget about it? But there’s a problem with that logic. You see, God may be a God of love, but He’s also a God of justice. David wrote about these dual qualities of God way back in the Old Testament, in Psalm 101:1…

Psalm 101:1 (NLT)
I will sing of your love and justice.

So while God’s love calls for forgiveness, God’s justice screams for a price to be paid.

As I’ve said before, Aslan is the image of Jesus in Narnia, so let’s see how he handled this dilemma. The White Witch came to him demanding that Edmund’s life be handed over to her. Edmund was a traitor, and so his life legitimately belonged to her. That was justice, and Aslan could not and would not refute that. So what did he do? He offered himself in Edmund’s place. A price had to be paid for Edmund’s betrayal, and he offered to pay that price. That’s how his love and justice met.

So as Aslan had arranged with the White Witch, he met her and her minions at the Ston Table. And there he submitted himself to being beaten, shaved, abused, insulted, and even killed. And he never resisted, never put up a fight. And he did it all so Edmund could be set free.

Jesus did the same for you and for me on the Cross. He paid the ransom that was due. He served the penalty that we deserved. And He did it willingly.

 

4. Jesus was sacrificed for our freedom.

Listen to this, from the Old Testament book of Isaiah. (Not in PowerPoint.) These are words of prophecy written about Jesus almost 700 years before He was even born…

Isaiah 53:4-9 (NLT)
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the LORD laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.
He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins--that he was suffering their punishment? He had done no wrong, and he never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT)
Because God's children are human beings--made of flesh and blood--Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

Jesus, even though He was completely sinless, took all our sinfulness upon himself so that we could be set free. The only One in all of history who could be exempt from that sentence of death chose instead to willingly lay His life down so that by the shedding of His own perfect, sinless blood He might pay the debt in full for all of us.

Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross.

A verse we looked at earlier proclaimed that “For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.” And that’s true. But thankfully, the passage doesn’t stop there. The next verses go on to say…

Romans 3:24-28 (NLT)
Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus.
Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.

It’s based on faith. Faith not in ourselves and what we can do, but faith in Jesus Christ and what He has already done for us.


But there’s more to the story than that. Both stories. In Narnia, Aslan was dead. Susan and Lucy had watched from a hiding place while Aslan was tortured and killed on the Stone Table. After the White Witch and all her minions had gone, they had rushed over to him to see if there was any hope. But there was none. He was indeed dead, and there was nothing else to do. They stayed there that night, beside the body of Aslan, weeping.

And then, the next morning, they reluctantly decided it was time to leave. They had to go and tell the others what had happened. But as they began to walk away, listen to what happened…
 

At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise — a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giant’s plate.... The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.

“Who’s done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”

“Yes!” said a great voice from behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.

“Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad....

“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.

“It means,” said Aslan, “that 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 backward.”
 

Aslan had conquered Death, and Death itself began to work backwards.

That’s not a bad summary of what Jesus did. He was killed on the Cross, yes, and at the time of His death something broke in two, also. In the Temple in Jerusalem, there hung a huge curtain. And it separated the rest of the Temple from the Holy of Holies, the place where God dwelt. Only one man, the High Priest, one time a year could enter that room. But when Jesus died, the curtain ripped from top to bottom, right down the middle. Access to God was no longer reserved for a select few. The veil was removed. And it was torn from top to bottom… it started at God’s end. He Himself removed the barrier.

And then on the morning of the third day, just at Sunrise, Jesus rose again. And in so doing, He conquered death and death started working backwards.

 

5. Jesus overcame Satan and death for all time.

That’s what being born again means. It means that you are given a new life that is no longer subject to death. Sure, you still die physically, but you will be resurrected. If you have sided with Jesus, then you will live forever. And if you have not sided with Jesus, then He invites you into His camp. You can change sides, even today. Just like Edmund, you can have the penalty paid for all the wrongs you have ever done, great or small, you can be made right before God. And you can live forever. That’s the promise of God. Death will work backwards.

We read earlier from Romans 6:23. They first part of the verse said…

Romans 6:23 (NLT)
For the wages of sin is death...

But it goes on to say…

...but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Check out what it says a couple of chapters later…

Romans 8:1-4 (NLT)
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. For the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you through Christ Jesus from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses could not save us, because of our sinful nature. But God put into effect a different plan to save us. He sent his own Son in a human body like ours, except that ours are sinful. God destroyed sin's control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the requirement of the law would be fully accomplished for us who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.

In Narnia, would the White Witch have done what she did if she knew of the Deeper Magic? Probably not. Would Satan have conspired to kill Jesus if he had know he would lose his grip on death? Probably not. Paul writes about this…

1 Corinthians 2:7-8 (NLT)
No, the wisdom we speak of is the secret wisdom of God, which was hidden in former times, though he made it for our benefit before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would never have crucified our glorious Lord.

Back to Narnia…
 

Then with a roar that shook all Narnia from the Western lamppost to the shores of the Eastern sea the great beast flung himself upon the White Witch. Lucy saw her face lifted towards him for one second with an expression of terror and amazement.
 

With one mighty leap the resurrected Aslan crushes the Witch.

And that was that. The White Witch was gone. So Aslan defeated death, and then went on to defeat the White Witch, once and for all. Jesus has conquered death and has defeated Satan, once and for all. The victory never has to be won again.

Hebrews 9:26 (NLT)
He came once for all time, at the end of the age, to remove the power of sin forever by his sacrificial death for us.

Less than one month before he died in 1963, C. S. Lewis wrote a letter to a young girl who wanted to know if any other Narnia books were going to be produced. And this letter that Lewis wrote became a fitting farewell to all of his devoted readers. He wrote…
 

Dear Ruth,

Many thanks for your kind letter, and it was very good of you to write and tell me that you like my books; and what a very good letter you write for your age!

If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope that you may always do so. I’m so thankful that you realized the "hidden story" in the Narnia books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grown-ups…hardly ever.

I’m afraid the Narnia series has come to an end, and am sorry to tell you that you can expect no more.

God bless you.

Your sincerely,

C.S. Lewis
 

Perhaps there were no other Narnia books to be written because it was the end of the story. Just like Jesus has conquered death and Satan for all time, end of story.


This morning, as we celebrate a New Year, we’re also going to celebrate New Life! We’re going to finish by going not to a Stone Table, but to the Lord’s Table. We’re going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. This is a sacred rite which Jesus Himself set in place.

It recognizes that there is One who worked the Deeper Magic and provided your release. An Innocent Victim stood in your place. He broke the Table of Stone, crushed your captor’s power and now offers you life in His Celestial Kingdom.

The grape juice which we use here represents the blood of Jesus that was shed in your place. The bread represents the body of Jesus which was pierced and broken and nailed to the cross for you.


SERVE COMMUNION

 

 

 

 

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