Summary: Jesus is our way out of spiritual winter.
THROUGH THE WARDROBE INTO WINTER
This past week our creative team met to nail down all the titles for this NARNIA Christmas message series. You can see the title we settled on for today – Through the Wardrobe into Winter. I’m mainly going to talk today about spiritual winter. This succession of major snowstorms we’ve seen this week would seem to make all this perfect timing. Both Monday and Friday this past week I was stuck our in the middle of our state in the throws of winter.
But the winter we are talking about, the winter we see here in THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is more just a metaphor of a spiritual winter. In fact, it’s really all about the changing of the spiritual climate in a region, or more precisely, in a heart.
It’s a gripping story of four children who wonder through a wardrobe door into the land of NARNIA – a land where it is “always winter but never Christmas.” But let me say, if you are not familiar with the book or the story, its okay because I’ll fill you in on just enough of the story to make sense of each message.
For several reasons we also liked the title: Delivering a Grown Up Story to the Child Within. I’m actually the one who voted against it because typically I’m not a big fiction guy. If it’s not true, why talk about it. But the reason we are going to talk about it is because this isn’t your average story and because it’s going to be a major discussion point this Christmas season.
DISNEY STUDIOS is betting over $180,000,000 that this will become their best-selling movie of all times (100M to make it, 80M on marketing!). Already in the last fifty years, it’s already sold 95 million copies and is translated into 41 languages.
C.S. Lewis was real clear about what he was writing about in his NARNIA series. He said it contains a “story within a story.” A little less than a month before he died, C.S. Lewis wrote a little girl named Ruth what might well serve as a challenge to us today;
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.
There is a hidden story here – it’s the gospel story.
Lewis masterfully wove in all the major Biblical themes such as sin and evil, faith and hope, sacrifice and a savior, resurrection and redemption. One time a young mother wrote a letter to C.S. Lewis asking his advice because she feared her child had come to love Aslan the lion more than Jesus. Lewis wrote her back ten days later;
Laurence can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply things that Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus; and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.
You see Lewis was unapologetic in making sure people saw Jesus in his story.
And, folks, in a day when TARGET and WALMART and many others are intentionally cutting the word “Christmas” from all their advertising – calling their Christmas trees “holiday trees” - DISNEY needs to be commended for their courage. For there can be no mistake that this is a story based directly on the gospel story and it was surely no accident that is being released in the heart of the Christmas season (any more than it was an accident that the PASSION OF THE CHRIST was released the weeks preceding Palm Sunday and Easter.) It’s all a powerful opportunity again for us tell people about Him.
So this is really a very intentional story w/in a story. It couldn’t be more clear. In 1951, Lewis wrote a letter to a group of fifth graders in Maryland where he stated:
I did not say to myself ‘Let us represent Jesus as he really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia’; I said ‘Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a man in our world, became a lion there, and then imagine what would happen.
So he wrote a powerful story of redemption closely paralleling the Christmas Story and the Cross. The end result of each is this land long frozen in winter is set free.
As Aslan the lion comes closer, things start to thaw – beautiful flowers break through the melting snow - which is precisely what happens to those who let Jesus enter in.