MORNING MESSAGE – John Cline
Texts: John 8,12,14,16 – Reader: John Renfree
C.S. Lewis’ seven book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. The first book of the series, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
In The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the first book in C.S. Lewis’ brilliant seven-book series, The Chronicles of Narnia, we read about the four children of The Pevensie family, who stumble through the back of an old wardrobe into a fantasy land, “Narnia”. They quickly realize that Narnia is freezing cold; its fields are covered with snow and its streams with ice. Brothers Peter and Edmund – the “Sons of Adam” they are called – and their sisters, Susan and Lucy – the “Daughters of Eve” – are told by the talking animals of Narnia that the reason for the perpetual freeze is that from the very moment of Narnia’s creation by Aslan the Lion, another being, the evil White Witch entered that realm. Aslan had forced her into hiding for a thousand years but now she was back from the cold north regions with a vengeance, bringing with her the freezing cold. For the past one hundred years she had blighted Narnia with that cold and enslaved the creatures there to doing her bidding. The children asked, “The White Witch? Who is she.” “She is a perfectly terrible person. She calls herself the Queen of Narnia though she has no right to be queen at all. She isn’t a real queen at all, she’s a horrible witch, the White Witch. She has made an enchantment over the whole country so that it is always winter here and never Christmas.” The children are told to have nothing to do with the White Witch. The children are suitably horrified, but one day, Edmund meets the White Witch and she seems nice to him for she offers him the thing he is missing the most from his homeland back in England: chocolate treats known as Turkish Delight. What Edmund doesn’t realize is that if he gives into her offer of Turkish Delight, he will fall under her control. Thus, when the White Witch offers to Edmund a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, containing several pounds of the best Turkish Delight chocolates, Edmund gives in. We read, “Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. He was quite warm now, and very comfortable. This was enchanted Turkish Delight. Anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves.” Edmund is delighted with his Turkish Delight and mocks his siblings with it. Eventually he betrays them entirely to the White Witch, becoming a traitor to his family. Peter, Susan, and Lucy are horrified at the White Witch’s hold over Edmund and Narnia, but wise old Mr. and Mrs. Beaver tell them that hope is not lost because Aslan, the great lion, can break the power of the White Witch.
Aslan A lion standing on a beach
Description automatically generated with medium confidence
“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion”, explains Mr. Beaver. “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you. They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed. He is the King of Beasts, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and the King above all High Kings in Narnia.” C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, later explained that he used “Types” in creating the characters of the White Witch and Aslan the Lion.
A “Type” is a copy, a shadow, a representation of another
The White Witch is a Type for Satan
Aslan the Lion is a Type for Jesus (the Lion of Judah)
Mr. Beaver explained, “Wrong will be made right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more. When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death. And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.” Well, Edmund is unsure if he wants this to be true for he loves eating those Turkish Delight chocolates. But, that all changes after the White Witch captures him and roughly straps him down as a prisoner to her sleigh. Edmund is not happy and begins to doubt this arrangement he has with the White Witch. Then, we read, “Edmund noticed that the snow which splashed against them as they rushed through it was much wetter than it had been last night. Now they were steadily racing on again. And soon Edmund noticed that the snow which splashed against them as they rushed through it was much wetter than it had been last night. All around them, though out of sight, there were streams chattering, bubbling, splashing and even (in the distance) roaring. And his heart gave a great leap (though he hardly knew why) when he realised that the frost was over. He noticed a dozen crocuses growing around the foot of an old tree – gold and purple and white. Patches of green grass and green tree-branches were beginning to appear throughout the forest. There was a drip-drip-drip from the branches of all the trees.” Though the Witch fought it every step, Edmund could see more clearly than she that Aslan had broken the White Witch’s power. “This is no thaw,” said the White Witch’s slave, a dwarf, suddenly stopping the sleigh. “This is Spring. What are we to do? Your winter has been destroyed, I tell you! This is Aslan’s doing.” Aslan the Lion then appears. “With a roar that shook all Narnia from the Western lamppost to the shores of the Eastern sea, the great beast flung himself upon the White Witch.” But he didn’t kill her. Instead, he talked with her, discussing with her how to free Edmund from his slavery to her. The witch reminds Aslan that Edmund is a traitor and that according to the ancient law of Narnia, that Deep Magic on which Narnia was built, a traitor’s life belongs to the White Witch. Edmund belongs to her. She threatens to kill Edmund as the Law of Narnia dictates she can. Unless Edmund’s blood is spilt on the Stone Table, Aslan cannot gain Edmund’s freedom. Aslan offers himself as a substitute for Edmund, offering to die in Edmund’s place in order to gain Edmund’s freedom. The White Witch delightedly agrees to the substitutionary exchange. Aslan is tied up and put to death. The Penvesie children are heartbroken and crying. Much to their later surprise and delight, though, Aslan who has been raised from the dead by his father, the Emperor-over-the-Sea, who used a deeper power than what the White Witch knew, appears to the children, but then goes off to rout the White Witch and her deluded followers. Narnia is set free from bondage to her and from winter. Christmas will come once again to the land.
Well, that is just a fantasy, a fantastic tale about Narnia written for children. But, Scripture clearly says that there is a war going on in our world between Jesus and Satan. In our sermon series through the Gospel of John, we earlier saw four reasons for Jesus’ birth at Christmas:
Jesus came to earth: 1. to bring eternal salvation
Jesus came to earth: 2. to bring light into this world and to dispel the darkness
Jesus came to earth: 3. to reveal that God is the heavenly Father of all who believe
Jesus came to earth: 4. to make the Holy Spirit available to everyone, God’s presence with us
Today, with that introduction about Narnia, the White Witch, and Aslan the Lion, we arrive at the fifth and final reason for Christmas:
Jesus came to earth: 5. to defeat Satan and to destroy his works
So, what does the bible say about this?
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. (1 John 3:8)
In destroying the devils work, like Aslan did for Edmund, Jesus…
….gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (Galatians 1:4)
Jesus said before he went to his death on the cross…
Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. (John 12:31)
The apostle John writes,
We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (1 John 5:19,20)
At the start of his ministry, Jesus stated what he had come to do:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” (Luke 4:18)
In the autumn months of 2022, you may recall that as we preached through the Letter to the Hebrews, we read that …
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14,15)
Satan’s power over humans was broken. When asked about it,
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So, if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:34-36)
This freedom involves the Kingdom of God coming into our lives.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13,14)
Anyone truly evil belongs to Satan. One such person was King Herod the Great. Consider how he responded to the news of Jesus’ birth:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. (Matthew 2:1-3)
People ask about the connection with the “King of the Jews” title to that of the “Lion of Judah” for Jesus. It originated in the words of Jacob, the third patriarch of the Jews, who said about his son Judah:
You are a lion’s cub, Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness — who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his. (Genesis 49:9,10)
Judah’s distant relative would come to be known as the King of Jews, the Messiah, the “Lion of Judah”. Just before Jesus’ birth, we read:
He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end. (Luke 1:33)
Satan’s rule over people’s lives had been basically unchallenged since the time sin entered into the world. He had been the “ruler of this world”, the “ruler of the kingdom of the air”, the “god of this age”, and the “prince of this world”, the bible says, but then Jesus came, proclaiming at the start of his ministry, “The kingdom of God is at hand.” With Jesus bringing the kingdom of God to our world, the result would be Satan’s total control over people would be broken. It is true that once Jesus freed people from slavery in Satan’s kingdom, people could choose who to serve Satan, but Satan was alarmed with Jesus’ plan to take him down and so he attempted to entice Jesus to his side.
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.” (Luke 4:5,6)
But Jesus knew his mission and purpose in coming to earth, and so he overcame the temptations Satan offered him. Later, Jesus explained…
The prince of this world has no hold over me. (John 14:30)
The final verdict about the devil had been exposed when Jesus came.
The prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:11)
What happened at the cross for us with Jesus is explained this way:
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Jesus defeated Satan by disarming him and making a public spectacle of his lack of power over followers of the Lord. Jesus has taken away Satan’s power to hold sinners to the debt of their sins and trespasses.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. (Colossians 1:19,20)
Like with Aslan for Edmund, Jesus died a substitutionary death for us.
You were bought at a price. (1 Corinthians 6:20)
This should give us hope. Whenever we are despairing, we need to read the apostle John’s words in the Book of Revelation:
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed.” (Rev. 5:5)
Just before his ascension back to heaven, we read,
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18)
God’s authority given to us means that we can witness for Jesus, with power. Satan may not like it, but he cannot stop it. On one occasion, Jesus sent out 72 of his followers to preach about him. They came back excited, reporting to Jesus that even demons listened to them.
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)
Jesus will bless eternally those who witness for him and stand firm.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. (Revelation 3:21)
That witnessing and victory may not come easily for us, because…
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4)
We can be victorious and effective, though, but only if we are intentional:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:10-12)
This spiritual struggle has been going on in every age for Satan doesn’t know the timing of Jesus’ return, that moment when his defeat will be solidified. So, Satan makes sure that he always has a key person on earth, a “lawless one”, the “anti-Christ”. This should be no surprise:
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. (2 Thess. 2:9,10)
Others may be deceived by the displays of power by the evil one, but Christians don’t need to. As we live for Jesus, we won’t be deceived.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
The apostle John commended Christians who had overcome Satan:
I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:13,14)
The key to being an overcomer is to embrace the Lord within us:
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
For our strengthening and encouragement, Jesus says,
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
We do not have to obey Satan’s will. We are not slaves in his kingdom:
…In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:2)
The two main benefits that flow from Jesus’ defeat of Satan are, first, the devil is bound so that the gospel may spread throughout the nations for the conversion of God’s elect. Before Jesus came into the world, the nations were completely under the darkness and enslaving power of idolatry. That was and is Satan’s premier stronghold. But, in the death of Jesus, God so bound the devil that the gospel might go to the nations and idolatry brought down. The preaching of the gospel sets a free course for the conversion of God’s people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” When we preach the gospel, people are set free from the enslaving power of Satan.
Second, the devil is bound so that believers have their consciences protected from Satan’s malicious accusations. When believers sin, the devil and his cohorts stand ready to heap condemnation on them. “How could you do this? You’re not a Christian. A believer would never do something like this.” But, as Romans 8:1 in the New Testament tells us, now there is no condemnation from God for those who believe. Jesus took away the devil’s power to paralyze believers with his condemning accusations. The believer has the strongest possible confidence because of the victory of Jesus over Satan and sin. As we will momentarily sing in the worship song, “In Christ Alone”: When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within, Upward I look, and see Him there Who made an end of all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free; For God, the Just, is satisfied To look on Him and pardon me.
Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done (Ephesians 6:13)
We are promised that:
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20a)
The end result for Satan and his demons is assured. John writes:
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3)
When I first learned to play chess, I realized that the outcome of the game could be determined in the first few moves. I learned this painful lesson at the hands and brains of better players. With them, the outcome of the game was decided early, but I still needed to play on, going through the process of seeing my chessboard pieces picked off one-by-one until finally my king was taken. That is how it is in our world. The cross of Jesus was the start of the contest. The Second Coming of Christ will be the end of the game. Similarly, there is a brutal, vicious, worldwide fight going on all around us. It is not between families or clans; nor between countries or provinces. It is nothing new; it has been raging for two millennia. This fight is between God and Satan, between God’s holy angels and Satan’s evil powers of darkness. This fight involves every human being and every spirit. It cannot be avoided. While we await Jesus’ Second Coming, you and I are also included in this fight but we can see it through to the end, knowing that we are on the winning side.
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)
In the Chronicles of Narnia, the White Witch had control over the land. It was an evil reign, but Aslan the Lion, the King of Beasts, the son of the Emperor-Over-the-Sea, and the King above all High Kings in Narnia was on the move. He defeated the White Witch and Narnia – the place where it was “always winter, and never Christmas” – was set free. That’s a fantastic children’s story, but it is just a story. In our world, though, is the truth The Chronicles of Narnia are based on: In our world, Satan had control over the world until Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the Messiah, the son of the Almighty God, came and defeated him by disarming him of his power to hold people in slavery to sin and his kingdom anymore. This was the fifth reason Jesus came to earth and we are the beneficiaries. So, let us live accordingly as overcomers, for the sake of the kingdom. Amen.