Tag Archive: aslan


cliff

i can’t remember any time recently when i wanted to kill the pastor of the church i was in [Ben the Priest is kinda cool!]. In fact it’s probably more likely that there were people thinking those kinds of thoughts about me during some of my more challenging or hectic messages back in the day. Continue reading

Advertisements

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.” [The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: C.S.Lewis]

Continuing our look at how Jesus compares to Aslan [or is it the other way around?] in the C.S.Lewis Narnia series and the question of Him being good, but not necessarily safe or tame. Matthew 23 explodes this question right open.

There are three interesting things about this for me:

[1] Jesus is taking on the teachers of the law – the religious leaders of the day – the very people who were meant to be helping the average man and woman in the street to follow God well.

And He doesn’t take them on gently.

“Woe to you, blind guides!” [vs. 16]

“You blind fools!” [vs. 17]

“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? [vs. 33]

Similiar to when Jesus sends the money lenders out of the temple grounds, we see passion and anger and strong language here. Jesus is serious about this. The lion is opening His mouth and letting out a gut-wrenching roar for all He is worth.

Paul reminds us in a more subtle way in 1 Thessalonians 5.21 that we must always test the spirits – hold on to the good and avoid every kind of evil. In our modern day setting it is vital that we compare what we hear from the preacher or what we read or watch with the words in the Bible and if they do not measure up, to feel free to discard them and let them fall away. We need to be correct handlers of Truth.

[2] Jesus is accusing them of not living out what they teach:

23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

[3] Jesus takes them on publically – none of this ‘just you and them business we always get pointed to in Matthew 18’

15 “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.’

And why not? Well maybe the key is in the first line where it says “sins against you” – what Jesus was taking on here was sin that affected the whole audience and so it needed to be dealt with publically. This can be a dangerous precedent to set [especially when it’s not Jesus doing the disciplining] but i believe there is a place for this [and have not found many who have vocally shared their agreement with me on this one]. My feeling is that if the preacher says something that is wrong and you deal with it with him alone, then everyone else has still heard the wrong thing and has no idea that it was wrong and so they will still take it on as truth. Perhaps this is why the Bible tells us there is a higher responsibility placed on those who preach/teach?

The audience needed to know that what the Pharisees were teaching and how they were living was not acceptable to God. 

As easy as it is to look down on the Pharisees and dismiss them, the primary objective of this story is for us to be reminded of the short distance between someone who follows Jesus and someone who becomes like them. I need to check my heart against the things that Jesus railed about in them and make sure that I do not fall into the same.

[To return to the beginning of this series to see the other posts, 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]

aslan“He’ll be coming and going” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” [C.S.Lewis ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ ] 

We continue the Aslan Jesus series with a guest post from a good friend:

Shasta and Aravis are heading north. From poles-apart socio-economic backgrounds, they’re fleeing loveless lives. Long story short (read it – The horse and his boy – number five in the Chronicles) – they get wind of the Calormene rulers’ plan to invade Archenland and Narnia while Peter who is now High King is distracted by marauding giants. They bolt on their talking horses (no kidding) to warn the good guys. But Rabadash’s army is closing in. Near the border they’re chased by a lion (guess who) who frightens them into outrunning their (real) pursuers.

Also, the lion claws Aravis because she drugged her slave-maid to escape from Calormene and the lion wasn’t cool with that. She’s too badly wounded to go on and she’s forced to stay with a hermit while Shasta goes on to great battles and certain heroism. But Aslan hasn’t forgotten her. He returns. And she’s changed forever.

Disclaimer: The Chronicles of Narnia aren’t God-breathed. They’re just vivid fantastical escape-into-wonder magical tales told by a really smart man who loved Jesus and wanted to reflect even in make-believe the better-believe-it fairy tale of a King born in a stable and rising in glory for eternity and for sure, we can learn from Aslan as he mirrors something of the character of Christ.

Like,

  1. 1.       He dares us.

Shasta and Aravis know they’re in danger and they’re going as fast as they can. Except they’re not. They need a bit of a kick in the talking horse. Aslan dares them into pushing harder riding faster going further. Because actually they can. And actually sometimes so can we. Pressures rise and we’re forced to act because he knows what he’s put in us and sometimes to call it out he has to be fierce.

I wonder if Jesus terrified Peter when he said to him, ‘I’ll build my church on you.’ (Matthew 16:18) Peter the rough-around-the-fishing-net guy who was the pebble that became the rock that spread truth to continents.

  1. 2.       He disciplines us.

We’ve forgotten how to be ok with difficult truth. When stuff starts getting a little off-culture we stare at the floor or do the nervous laughter let’s-rephrase-that thing. Like, we’re fine with the wounds of the Saviour as long as we don’t get scratched. But what if the Saviour is so deeply wholly motivated by love that he will do whatever it takes to make you holy? What if he’s the Saviour who says, ‘My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.’ (Proverbs 3:11-12)

In The problem of pain, C. S. Lewis writes, ‘God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.’

  1. 3.       He delays us.

I like how Elisabeth Elliot talked about being sick. She said she wasn’t ‘laid aside by illness but called aside to stillness.’ Somehow when our plans short circuit and there’s disappointment or delay God does deep things that just don’t sink in when we’re caught in the frenetic melee of normal life. When Jesus shows up in the waiting we’re never the same again.

Moses was, like, seriously delayed. Forty years in an Egyptian palace separated from his people. Forty years in the wilderness looking after his father-in-law’s sheep. Forty years wandering to the brink of promise. That’s a lifetime of delay. Yet Moses was the friend of God who stood sans-sandals on holy ground and raised his staff above parted waters and saw the glory ‘til his face shone.

I guess my challenge to you is: if you’re following Jesus, be scared and don’t be scared. Be scared because he’s the living God of terrifying power and blinding splendour. Don’t be scared because you are his wholly beloved, forever redeemed child and heir. And if you’re following Jesus, ‘There are far, far better things ahead than anything we leave behind.’ (C. S. Lewis)

[To read the next part on Sticks and Stones, click here]

So great to have my friend Dalene sharing a completely different perspective on this Aslan Jesus story than I would have been able to. She has a great gift for writing and I encourage you to connect more with her here:

Twitter: @deereyburn (https://twitter.com/deereyburn)

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/dalene.reyburn

Blogs: http://growyounginside.com/ and http://reyburnboys.blogspot.com/

I can't reach...

This is most of my latest and last post on my second blog: The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] just FYI for readers of Irresistibly Fish…

I have decided to retire ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] blog after 14 good weeks.

With the pace of life at the moment the pressure to produce 5 specifically themed blog posts as well as what I passionately want to write has at times felt a little overwhelming and I hate producing sub par stuff. So I am wanting to put more time, energy and focus into my main blog, Irresistibly Fish and so encourage you if you are a subscriber of the Mash to head across there and subscribe to that.

In the meantime, if you are looking for something to read today, in terms of looking back over the 14 weeks of ‘The Weekly Mash [and Peace!]’ the top blog that stands out for each day would be:

By far and away Cloud man for Monday – I am glad so many of you enjoyed this with me… gets me every time…

For Tuesdays it was surprisingly celebrity marriage advice [there you go again on the relationships!] with Ben Affleck and Will Smith.

No surprises that for Wednesday it was wife with nail in her head which sounds horrible but is just such a powerful thought-provoking piece that you have to watch and share if you have not seen it yet. Incredible and so hard to explain in a way that would make anyone want to watch it. But do it!

Thursday the top-rated post was the one I did titled John Piper and the three little pigs, but the one I want to put here is yesterday’s post ‘Time to let the church die’ as it hasn’t had the time to be read as much but no doubt will – an excellent article and an excellent video clip giving some strong prophetic voice to the church and the gospel message.

And lastly, Friday being my day, well interestingly enough ‘Blessed are the Geeks’ was the most viewed post for that day and it was all about the labels we put on people and so a really good read.

And then I also posted the three most popular posts on Irresistibly Fish that I would want you to read for people on The Weekly Mash [and Peace!] who may not have seen them:

For those of you who are single [but also those of you who are married – it is excellent for you to hear this stuff!] these stories by some good friends of mine on their journey as single people [desiring not to be] has been such powerful reading and very popular – read and share away cos this is encouraging stuff.

I also did a Taboo Topic [rarely spoken about topics, in church and elsewhere] on Parenting young children when it’s not particularly been easy and this post by my friend Candi for some reason just blew up – people resonated with it, it got a gazillion shares and she has been invited to write and speak in places because of it which has been so exciting for me to watch. Read this one and also the one by Steve Wiens which got a lot of airplay and share it if you haven’t because you have friends with young children who desperately need to read these.

Thirdly, largely due to a comment and link I posted on this excellent blog post, ‘How I know my wife married the wrong person’ by Tyler Mackenzie, which became a four part [and growing] series, there was the series I ran a while back called How to save a marriage [before you need to] in which I invited something like 18 of my friends who are in strong marriages to share one or two things that for them are the foundation for a strong marriage.

Seems like relationships are what a lot of my readers are interested in but one non-relationship one [well not people with people] that I would like to recommend is the series called ‘Aslan Jesus’ that I have just started which is looking at aspects of Jesus that show that He is good, but definitely not tame. I am very excited about writing [and seeing written – have some guest posts coming in] this series.

Thanks for being part of this experimental journey. And please come on over to Irresistibly Fish if you are not already there. There will continue to be humour and news-related posts, relationship advice and stories as well as spiritual hunger pieces and every day will in a sense be my day. As for this blog it is not going to be vaporised and so you can continue to catch up on old posts by using the day tabs at the top of the page which are archives for the whole journey.

And as a going away present, if you feel up to sharing this post, then it will give access to a lot of great blog posts to your friends and fellow ‘Farmville II’ players on Facebook.

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.”  [Aslan, ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe]

There are two passages I want to look at here, both from Matthew 16:

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15 “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.’

What is possibly the most interesting part about this passage is the one that follows it. Peter has just demonstrated the ability to tune into the things of God and be directed towards the revelation of the Spirit. But then he returns to being Peter, the simple fisherman.

’21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Never, Lord!” He said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.26 What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.’

I mean let’s not miss this here. He calls one of his best men ‘satan’ – it doesn’t get much worse than that. This is not a tame Jesus we are dealing with. The lion is out.

Although I do believe there is a subtle distinction to be made here, because I don’t think Jesus is actually calling Peter ‘the devil’ but He is addressing the nature of the devil that is coming through the statement that Peter makes. His follow-up statement seems to suggest that – ‘you have in mind the things of man and not of God.’ That message itself [actually the root of all human suffering if you dig deep enough] is so offensive to God that Jesus has to take issue on it. He rebukes Peter right there in front of his friends. None of this Matthew 18.15 stuff of quietly dealing with the person one on one. Peter makes a public statement that goes against the very will of God and so Jesus steps in forcefully and takes it down.

It is important to pick up the ‘He isn’t safe, but He’s good’ aspects of this story. Jesus is addressing the statement Peter is making and doing so strongly because it is important for the disciples to realise just what He is and isn’t about. But He remains friends with Peter and doesn’t turf him out because of this misstep. The increasingly unpopular ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin’ which I still find to be true.

I discovered this paragraph by Ken Matto on the passage which I really liked:

‘Peter was rebuked because he was looking at things from man’s point of view rather than from God’s point of view. This would be a very subtle satanic method and very innocuous. It showed Peter had a caring spirit but one that was misguided. Jesus rebuked Peter because his thoughts were in line with Satan’s thoughts which would be anti-God even if it was done violently. Much sin is committed under the guise of care when it is misguided. This is why we need to check things out in the Scriptures, no matter how caring a person is, if they are misleading us, then they must be rebuked and this is what Jesus did with Peter. He was not chiding him but trying to refocus his thinking back on the things of God. Jesus was always teaching and training His disciples, as He was here with Peter, so when Pentecost came and they were filled with the Spirit, the disciples would be ready to start evangelizing.’ [Ken Matto]

And so a great passage to start this series with as it demonstrated both the powerful and loving nature of Jesus, who, let’s not forget, is represented both as lion and lamb.

[To read the next part in the series, a guest post by Dalene Reyburn called Glory in the Claws, click here]

aslanIf you’ve never read the Narnia series by legendary author  Clive Staples Lewis, you’re doing yourself a misfortune.

In it he crafts a mysterious and magical world called Narnia that four young British children stumble into, through the back of an old wardrobe in a country house they are evacuated to during the second World War in London, in the first book titled ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’.

Much like Pilgrim’s progress, written by John Bunyan in 1678, ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ [and the subsequent books in the seven book series] was a Christian allegory sharing principles and truths of the Christian faith, through the telling of a captivating story.

Aslan is the name of the lion character that is introduced and it becomes clear that he represents Jesus in the way that He speaks and loves and lives [and dies, and comes back!]. He often represents a side of Jesus that we too often like to shy away from [especially in these emergent, post-modern times where we don’t ever want to feel bad or obligated or the need to repent for anything].

Two statements from ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ illustrate this well:

“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.” 

The idea of Jesus not being safe, but still being good. With statements like ‘If you want to follow Me, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me,’ is not a very safe statement. But it is good.

And the second one:

“He’ll be coming and going” he had said. “One day you’ll see him and another you won’t. He doesn’t like being tied down–and of course he has other countries to attend to. It’s quite all right. He’ll often drop in. Only you mustn’t press him. He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

We tend to like the idea of a tame Jesus, that we can control. So the idea and practice of ‘this far and no further’. We like to be able to set the boundaries and draw the lines of commitment when Jesus has already invited us to a ‘life to the full’ but one that requires complete absolute commitment.

So I wanted to run a series [and maybe I will get some help from some friends] on some of the aspects of Jesus that are maybe easier to overlook or play down. The times when Jesus came across a little more like a lion than a lamb. This is an essential part of His character and should not be missed.

Join me on this journey as we take a bit of a deeper look at Aslan Jesus:

“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’]

[disclaimer: sadly Aslan is the one character I felt the movies got wrong. He needed a James Earl Jones Mufasa type voice of authority and they gave him a friendly Uncle Liam Neeson and so he, in my opinion, came across as rather a tame lion, which was an immense pity, as the rest of the movie was pretty good]

[For part I of this series titled ‘Get thee behind me’ click here]

[for part II of this series – guest post by Dalene Reyburn titled ‘Glory in the Claws’ click here]

[For part III of this series ‘Sticks and Stones’ click here]

[For part IV on Enough being Enough, click here]

[For part V on life backing up profession of faith, click here]

[For part VI on Jesus kicking some Pharisaical butt, click here] 

%d bloggers like this: