He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By a perversion of justice he was taken away. (Isaiah 53:7-8)
Now we have come to the heart of the matter. This is where it gets messy, because this is when it really starts to hurt. Some may be able to write off violence done to another easily. However, most of us, bearing the marks of the One who created us, will have difficulty bearing the vision of that image.
C. S. Lewis displays his greatest genius in the character of the great lion, Aslan. Named with the Turkish word for “lion,” he is the counterpoint the White Witch’s evil. It is somewhat odd, in a sense, that redemption would come from the same source as the darkness. That is something we overlook. And yet, for those who do take into account the character of Satan, they will remember that he was the light-bringing angel before the world began. Proving that God can arrive from any quarter, and often does from the most unexpected.
In Aslan, Lewis manages to include elements of all forms of biblical atonement theology. From the financial debt to be paid, to the military victor over death, to the sacrificial offering: he does it all. The fourth major form, legal atonement, is what he does best. As we stand in a courtroom with Edmund, waiting for the righteous “deep magic” (true purpose of the law and God’s own self) to pass judgment, the prosecuting attorney (White Witch) demands our blood in payment. Enter in the one who has fulfilled the law perfectly, who was there when it was written, who loves with an aptitude that is beyond the rest. And he comes alongside us, offering to pay the full penalty himself. Evil is appeased, the “deep magic” appears to have found its requirements filled, and Edmund (and we) sighs in relief.
Then comes the punchline that no one sees coming. In the morning, when the great lion appears alive again as an outline on the sunrise-drenched horizon, he explains that when innocent blood offers itself in the place of the sinful, even death itself will overturn. The power of evil and the abuses of the law will be undone. And new life, the possibility of reconciled life in full relationships will begin.
In the midst of Holy Week, there is no better time to consider all that God has done for us. At the end of the day, it is God who made the first move, because God loves us in spite of ourselves.
We are God’s creations, made to be good and to do things far beyond our wildest dreams. But yes, we have hurt God – especially when we caused harm to others, and worse, when we have tried to use God as a weapon against another. We are certainly guilty.
Yet, out of the great love our Creator has for us, God came in the flesh, God’s own self in a human that Christ could offer himself as a testament of reconciling love. That is the God that we serve. That is the God that Lewis displayed so well in the great lion.
Though it may break our hearts to watch as death approaches this week, let us never forget that Love stretched out its arms so that no one will ever be turned away who comes seeking all the gifts that God entails.