Well, Well, Well: A Marriage, a Mountain, and a Messiah: Part 3 (A Sermon on John 4:27-42)
In The Magician’s Nephew, C. S. Lewis envisions a world coming to life, by means of Aslan’s song. If you have never read The Chronicles of Narnia series, Aslan the Lion is the Christ-figure who both creates the world and dies to save the world. And in The Magician’s Nephew, which is the prequel to the more famous, The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, we are treated to Lewis’s story of creation.
Here is how he pictures Narnia coming to life.
The Lion was pacing to and fro about that empty land and singing his new song. It was softer and more lilting than the song by which he had called up the stars and the sun; a gentle, rippling music. And as he walked and sang, the valley grew green with grass. It spread out from the Lion like a pool. It ran up the sides of the little hills like a wave. In a few minutes it was creeping up the lower slopes of the distant mountains, making that young world every moment softer. The light wind could now be heard ruffling the grass. Soon there were other things besides grass. The higher slopes grew dark with heather. Patches of rougher and more bristling green appeared in the valley. Digory did not know what they were until one began coming up quite close to him. It was a little, spiky thing that threw out dozens of arms and covered these arms with green and grew larger at the rate of about an inch every two seconds. There were dozens of these things all round him now. When they were nearly as tall as himself he saw what they were. “Trees!” he exclaimed. (64)
Trees indeed! And in the context of The Magicians’ Nephew this new world was coming to life in the presence of an evil witch and crazy, self-absorbed Uncle. In this way, the creation of Narnia does not match the creation of our world, where God in his eternal perfection made the world good and very good (Genesis 1).
In the beginning, our Creator formed the heavens and the earth, and sin and death, Satan and evil were not present when he spoke everything into existence. As the Bible tells us, sin and death came into the world when Adam and Eve believed the lies of the devil and ate from the tree that God forbade. Accordingly, the creation of the world in Narnia, made in the presence of evil, is not like the creation of God’s world. Instead, the creation of Narnia is like the world that God is making today, as his Word and Spirit bring to “Trees” to life, trees and branches who will bear eternal fruit (John 15).
Indeed, in the Old Testament, God likens Israel to vineyard he planted (Isaiah 5) and a tree that he plucked out of Egypt and planted in Canaan (Ezekiel 17). At the same time, because of sin that poisoned God’s vine, prophets like Jeremiah also said that the vine he planted, he would pluck up and destroy. This is God’s strange work—bringing judgment upon the people whom he created. Yet, he did this in Israel’s history because they proved themselves to be his enemy, not his children.
As Paul says in Romans not all Israel is Israel (9:6). And only a remnant in Israel would receive the blessing promised by Moses and the Prophets. By the time of Jesus, this remnant was small but growing. God sent John the Baptist to prepare a people for the Messiah save. And in John 4 we begin to see the harvest promised by the Prophets.
To put in terms of creation again. In the midst of a dark and rebellious world, God is bringing light and life to a people that he is saving out of the world. What was promised of old, therefore—that there would be a harvest at the end of time—has now come. The harvest is here and John 4 shows us how.
Indeed, in the midst of his enemies, Jesus is singing a song that is bringing to life branches who will bear fruit. As I read it, this is the food that satisfies our Savior (John 4:32) and leads to the salvation of God’s people.
In John 4:42, we find the title “Savior” used for the first and only time in John’s Gospel (cf. 1 John 4:14). In this single usage, we learn that Jesus the Messiah is not a prophet who only speaks words, he is the prophet like Moses, who saves his people. More than that, he is God Incarnate, who gives life, and the Son of God, sent by the Father to give the Holy Spirit to all of God’s children. This is what the messiah does and what the harvest is.
And on Sunday, I preached a sermon a third sermon on John 4, showing how Jesus is the Spirit-anointed Messiah who saves. You can watch the sermon here. The previous two sermons on John 4 can also be found here and here.
May we learn to feed on the spiritual manna that God has given us in Christ and may our meditation on John 4 lead us to drink more deeply of the Living Water that Christ gives.
Soli Deo Gloria, ds
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