What perceptions of death do we have in our culture? Is it something we are/should be afraid of? How do we feel when a loved one dies? Is it OK to mourn? Is it exciting to be “in the earth but not of it?”
24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
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The Lion’s World pages 121-124
The full chapter can be downloaded from Seed Resources.
With Justin Brierley (Presenter on Premier Radio’s ‘Unbelievable’ apologetics show)
I am one of the few people who have actually had the privilege of going to Narnia. Well, sort of. As a boy I acted the part of Douglas Gresham, stepson of CS Lewis, in a theatre production of Shadowlands. One scene involved me going through a large wardrobe and picking a healing apple for my mother in a Narnia-like world. The world that is “bigger inside than it looks outside “is a metaphor for the Christian faith that Lewis captured brilliantly in the Narnia stories.
We inhabit the “real” world and, we might be forgiven for thinking that Lewis wrote his Chronicles of Narnia as fantasies for children, as a momentary way of escape. The message of Narnia however, especially in the final chapters of The Last Battle as the children journey “further up and further in”, is that the life we live now is the shadow. The world to come is more truly “real” and “colourful” than anything we experience now.
In Luke chapter 24 we arrive in the early dawn at the tomb of Jesus where some of the women followers have made their way. They have just experienced a week of the “real” world of betrayal, political power, crucifixion and death. As they find an empty tomb and men in dazzling clothes we might again be tempted to think that this is where the real world becomes fantasy (something the male disciples accuse the women of at first). But no. God’s world, where death is not the end, justice prevails and love wins, has come crashing in on the world of pain and sorrow we have created. “Why search for the living among the dead?” Christ is risen. Go and look for him.
It’s all so unexpected, isn’t it? The disciples’ understanding of Jesus is about to take a giant leap forward. They are about to get a bigger faith, a faith that will lead them to act with almost breathless abandon in the face of beatings, trials, and shipwrecks – everything that the “real” world can throw at them. Why? Because they have tasted the heavenly kingdom – Aslan’s country to put it in Narnian terms.
They have experienced Jesus anew – just as Lucy experienced Aslan differently every time they met. Her faith must get bigger as it grows deeper. Aslan will become bigger to her as she grows up. Our experience of the risen Christ means that we start to see this life in the context of that life – his risen life. The life we live is certainly a real one – but only “the cover page and the title page” of the one to come. Search for Jesus among the living and he will grow bigger every time we meet him, bringing that future life, where we are transformed along with the whole creation, evermore into focus in the here and now.
Available in audio format.
1) Luke 24: 11 says: “But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.” What do you think you would say if someone came back and said that the body was gone? Would you put forward rational explanations, rush forward to see for yourself, dismiss it, accept it?
2) In Luke 24:7 the title ‘Son of Man’ is used. What do you feel about this as a title for Jesus, and why it might have been used?
3) If the life we now live is ‘the shadowlands’, how does that make you feel about your life here, and what you might do with it?
4) ‘Lucy experienced Aslan differently every time they met’: how might you observe this in your own lives in your relationship with Jesus?
5) What are the ways in which we can start to ‘look for Jesus in the living’?
Hot) ‘The Stable seen from within and the Stable seen from without are two different places,’ [King Tirian] says; and Lucy adds that ‘In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world’ (Last Battle Ch. 13, p. 744). Discuss (E.g. How do you see the stories of Easter and Christmas intertwining? Susan is left behind: has our rationalist/scientific world blinded us to the possibilities ‘behind the door’?)
Cold) Picture Aslan’s country/the ‘heavenly kingdom’/eternity – behind the wardrobe doors – with words, poetry or images. Consider sharing with the group/wider world.
To finish with: “Lord, we pray that we will remember that this is but the ‘cover page’ of our lives, and that we will seek you to inform how we live in the here and now. ”
1) Read Narnia’s The Last Battle and consider what light that throws upon ideas of heaven and eternity. Do we find our world feeling rather small?
2) Write a letter to yourself (or to God), indicating what your faith means to you, and what would enable you to live it ‘with reckless abandon’.
3) Be in the ‘here and now’: stand still for 5-15 minutes, look at the world around you, the world as it is now, the ‘shadow’ of the heavenly world. Can you see indicators of the world to come?