Tag Archive: aslan Jesus

We continue the Aslan Jesus series with a post from my friend KleinFrans [he’s not!]:

aslan“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”

“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.

“Are – are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.

“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This weekend, my lovely wife Michelle and I enjoyed an amazing weekend out at the Knysna Oyster Festival on the east coast of South Africa. On Saturday morning we ran the half marathon along with 6000 other forest enthusiasts (the whole race is run through the Knysna forest).

What really struck me this time was how much the running clothes, gear, strapping and shoes have changed over the last 5 years or so. Not just the colours but the technology that goes into this gear; the shoes are lighter, made for more impact absorption but also more bounce (?!), more aerodynamic running shorts/pants/shirts, lightweight earphones to keep the loud breathing from reaching your ears and 16G of music to last you at least 5 times as long as the battery will last.

I am a back of the pack runner. I will never win a race and neither did 5999 other runners. In fact, only 4633 crossed the finish line while only approximately 1076 runners broke 120 minutes. Looking at these stats, evidence is starting to stack up against all this technology “helping people run faster.” The simple fact is we don’t. We run the same. Yet, we still look for obtaining the best shoes, lightest clothes and more streamline gizmos. Every day, we spend our time looking for a lot of unnecessary things that helps little (if at all) in streamlining your life apart from making you feel better about yourself.

I look at my everyday life and wonder at the end of the day, what did I spend my time on today? More importantly, what did I spend my time on today looking for and advancing the Kingdom of God (Matt 6:33). Did I actively spend my time today getting to know Jesus? 

In the Sermon on the Mount, (Matt 5-7), Jesus is basically setting the standard for the divine kingdom of God and in Matt 7 he brings the sermon to a conclusion. But look here at Matt 7:21-23

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Note who the people are on whom the eternal door is closing (and there are “many”):

First of all, they say “Lord, Lord.” Kurios is the word translated in the Septuagint of the Old Testament for the name of Jehovah. These people are saying that they accept He is God and all that his deity involves. They say “Lord, lord” indicating their passion and commitment to Kurios.

Secondly they say three times, “in thy name, in thy name, in thy name.” We have been doing it for you Lord. It is respectful, it is zealous. They’re zealous in their public ministry of word and work. It sounds so good.

But the “safe Jesus” isn’t around when Jesus quotes from Psalm 6:8 and says in verse 23: ” And I will declare (confess, homologeo); I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness (iniquity).”

What a shock! Many did signs and wonders in Jesus’ name ! Depart from me !!! 

But look closely at the word “knew” (or know). The word “know” is used in the Bible of an intimate relationship. And Jesus says, “I never had any intimate relationship with you. Yes, you were around and I saw you doing things and running around in the church/community but I never had that intimacy with you.”

“Depart from me!!” Instead of living by these righteous principles that Jesus preached at the Sermon on the Mount, you always continue to do lawlessness. And instead of doing God’s will, His righteous standard (Matt 5 to 7), you always work lawlessness. Look at the Pharisees and the scribes; they were the MOST religious and professors of religion of their day! They had “churchianity” down to a science.

James (1:22-25) basically spells out the formula: faith minus works equals zero. Professing Christ means absolutely nothing if your life does not back it up. 

So what are you spending your time on? Running around doing things that matters little to the kingdom of God or are you “knowing” Christ actively?

“Depart from me” or “Enter into the joy of your master (Matt 25:21)”

“…that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

[For the next part on Jesus kicking some Pharasaical butt, click here]

aslan“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” 

A great example of this, which is recorded in at least 3 of the Gospels, so clearly someones thought this was significant, is the story of Jesus clearing out the temple.

Here are the accounts found in John and Matthew:

John 2

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Matthew 21 

12 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 13 “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”

Clearly Jesus was good. But these two accounts of His actions when He got to the point of “Enough is enough” show that He was not all that safe either.

Remembering at the same time, the account recorded in Luke 22 of Jesus refusing to resists arrest and going so far as to heal one of the men who had come to arrest him [that swashbuckling Peter took an ear off of], Jesus shows that He wasn’t as concerned with His own safety. But this was an account of the House of God. And people were being ripped off. And robbed. And that was too much for Jesus.

This reminds me of the Old Testament story of the Israelites and the golden calf in Exodus 32. First Moses loses it and breaks the commandments, grinds the idol into dust and makes them drink it. But God commands an even harsher consequence and 3000 people are killed that day and a plague affects a whole bunch more.

This reminds me of Ananias and Sapphira withholding money from the church while saying they had given it all to them. Once again God answers with “Enough is enough” and both of them are struck down and fear seizes the church.

I know stories like this cause some people to struggle with the view of God as loving and good. So we’d rather gloss over those stories or pretend like they don’t exist and focus on the ones with the nice comfortable happy God promises. But I don’t think that gives a clear and honest picture of God. And if you read the story of Israel in the first half of the bible you get to see just how patient and forgiving God is with their constant adultery towards Him.

He is a good God. But He is also Holy. And Divine. And there is the sense that as much as He welcomes us as friends and even children, it is important that we remember just Who we are dealing with and show Him the respect and devotion He deserves.

Does this mean we have to live in fear that if we accidentally have a bad day and step out of line that He is going to send down a lightning bolt to take us out? Of course not. But when we are deliberately turning away and worshipping other Gods or when we are bleeding the poor [on the doorstep of the house of God] for our own gain or when we are actively deceiving the people of God for reputation, then we may need to be a little bit more careful. When we are producing teaching that is leading children astray [Matthe 18] or not looking after those who are viewed as the least of these [Matthew 25] then we had better realise once more… that yes, He is good. But He is definitely not tame. This is His story. Not ours.

He is definitely not safe for us when we are turning our back on Him and heading in the opposite direction. The stories of Jonah and King David and Peter and others demonstrate – it can be painful and involve loss and the need for humility and some extent of brokenness to have to happen within us. But when we turn back and face Him and direct our lives back towards Him, then much like the Father in the story of the prodigal son [Luke 15] He is already facing us, and heading in our direction, and running towards us and calling for the celebration to be prepared.

Safe? Nah, but then we don’t always need safe.

Good? Undoubtably.

[To read the next part of this series, titled Life backing up profession of faith, click here]

aslan“I have come,” said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.” [C.S. Lewis ‘The Silver Chair’]

There is a crowd. A mob, if you will. Kind of gives the imagery to me [internally at least] of the angry townsfolk armed with flaming torches and pitchforks storming the castle seeking the Frankenstein monster. Nothing can get in their way. Because they are an angry mob.

And so it is with this poor woman. Who, like the Frankenstein monster, is never given a name [Frankenstein was the name of the doctor who created him]. And like the monster, has been turned into this creature of shame, who has committed this evil act and must be brutally killed.

Enter Jesus, stage left…

John 8. 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I suspect we lose a lot of the story by not being able to fully relate to or comprehend the times this was set in. Public stoning of adulterers is not something we have too much of an understanding of. And we know this is a trap to try and take down Jesus [and, as in the way Jesus deals with every attempt that is brought His way, we see His Aslan’ness – He is safe, but not tame – every single time the person who set the trap slinks away with their tail between their legs, shamed and caught out].

What I really enjoy about this story is like the opening Lewis quote – Jesus commands the attention of the crowd but not by loud noise or big action – simply by His Presence. You quickly get the feeling that all eyes are on Him. And then He slows it all down by asking the question that stops them all in their tracks. And then by bending down to write some mystery words on the ground.

One thing this does is it takes the crowd’s attention away from the woman caught in sin. And directs people’s attention to their own hearts. Oh wait, that’s me. Whoops. Oh dear. Um… cheque please!

One interesting thing I just now picked up on [and it is possibly more an internal thing than external, although you may have been able to visualise this to some extent if you were there] is how the posture is reversed. The woman is brought in shamed, face down, slinking in and humiliated while the crowd and the accusers stand tall and defiant, feeling justified and ready to catch this Jesus guy.

Then there is an encounter with Aslan Jesus. It is quiet. And gentle. And direct.

Suddenly the crowd are quiet. Their heads are bowed down. They are the ones slinking away, one by one. Their shame has been made apparent. Then Jesus puts the attention back on the woman, now that it is only Him and her. God’s gaze is fixed on the broken, trembling creation. He speaks words of life to her. Words that restore her dignity. And direct her towards a better way of living. And she walks away head up, confident, feeling loved and restored and feeling the hope that a second chance holds out.

What is really powerful about this story echoes the dual nature of the lion in the Narnia series – good, but not tame.

what might Jesus have writtenThere is a statement that God loves you so very much, no matter what you’ve done or where you currently are at in life.

There is a statement that God loves you so very much, that He refuses to let you settle for being in that place when there is a better place to be.

So I love you completely but go and sin no more. I created you for so much more than this. Keep walking with Me and drawing on the power of My Spirit and you will continue to be changed and grown towards the perfect creation I intended you to become.

[To read the next part on Enough being Enough, click here]

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