Justice and Laughter

I have begun to read the Chronicles of Narnia with my children and wife. And I must commend these stories to you. They are wonderful.

We decided to start with The Magician’s Nephew, and I am not into the debate of which book goes in which order. Just read them. Anyway, we finished The Magician’s Nephew and there is one aspect of the book, among many, that reminded me of the importance of Christendom.

Drudgery often accompanies faith, and this should not be. Christians can be quite dismal, when they have every reason not to be. You know, God became Man for us, lived and died and lived again for us. He know has given all authority in heaven and on earth to the God-man and has promised that every nation will bow the knee to Jesus and every enemy, including death, will be done away with…and we chatter our teeth in terror.

But there is another aspect of banality among Christians, we simply lack joy and laughter for some reason. We act as though, because we belong to Jesus, we cannot laugh or tell jokes or what not. Do you remember that story about Herod in the book of Acts being eaten by worms? That’s funny. An Edomite who claimed to be the voice of God is then consumed as the dust of the earth. The symbolism is hilarious…I mean, hey! That’s not funny!

When Christendom is simply somber without joy we are dullards. However, we can have a sense of joyful sobriety. Don’t act like Herod, seriously don’t do it, because the Lord of heaven and earth will stoop down and laugh at you…and you just may be eaten by worms. See? Serious joy.

Well, anyway, back to Narnia. Aslan has just sung the world of Narnia into existence and he gives speech to the beasts, and one cracks a joke on accident and they are not sure whether or not it is acceptable to do so. This is an understandable question as Aslan had just went through the solemn act of creation, after all. And this is how Aslan replies,

Laugh and fear not, creatures. Now that you are no longer dumb and witless, you need not always be grave. For jokes as well as justice come in with the speech.

The allegory here, I think, is that Jesus has made us Christian from once brute beasts. We followed the lusts of our flesh. We loved our sin. We desired the curse rather than life, and then Jesus gives us life, true life. He gives us a new way to see the world, the right way. And He gives us a new way to talk, the godly way.

This godly way is not devoid of laughter, but it is in the very marrow of our lexicon. Isn’t there something in the Bible about inexpressible and glorious joy? Oh yeah, 1 Peter 1:8. This is what is to characterize Christendom. I also think C.S. Lewis was onto something when he placed jokes and justice together. The reason for such joy is that justice is a guarantee.

In Narnia, the evil witch Jadis had invaded the world, and the guarantee is that Aslan will deal with her. Evil will be done away with, Jesus promised. Look at all that wickedness, Jesus already beat it, and promises to pulverize it.

Take an example. Have you noticed that our nation at this very moment is filled with Herods? Men and women who think they can dictate to other image bearers of God what liberties we do or do not have? Have you noticed that the Herods of our land have assumed the role of God? Thou shalt not eat a cheeseburger and drive, say some Herodian officials in Washington. Thou shalt have permission to murder babies and doctor-assisted suicide is A-ok, say the same tinpot Herodian hucksters from shore to shore and the masses are crying out, “The voice of God and not man!”

Ahem,

Why do the nations rage
    and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against Yahweh and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
    and cast away their cords from us.”
He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
    and terrify them in his fury, saying,
“As for me, I have set my King
    on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree:
Yahweh said to Me, “You are My Son;
    today I have begotten You.
Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage,
    and the ends of the earth Your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron [or an infestation of flesh-eating worms!]
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve Yahweh with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for His wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed [happy!] are all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 2

Laugh and fear not, creatures.

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His Name Is Jesus, Our Emmanuel

His Name is Jesus, His Name is Yahweh Saves and He will save His people from their sins and…and what? And His people will look to Jesus and say, “God is with us.”

God is with us. This is the Good News of the victory of Jesus in this world. In Jesus, God is with us. In Jesus, we have our Emmanuel.

Now, how does this happen? Well, He has to be born to die. The glories of the Incarnation end in the darkness of a tomb. Peace and good will toward men is only possible because the birth of Jesus, leads to the salvation of Yahweh, which is the cross and tomb.

I’m not sure if Joseph and Mary knew what was going to happen to their son. I’m not sure if they knew He would suffer as He did. What would they have thought knowing the end of the baby boy that was to be born?

But we can’t forget that this is the way Jesus saves His people from their sins. He saves them from their sins because He receives their sins upon Himself.

This, I think, is the majesty of the Incarnation. The Son of God in heaven, looks down on this world, for the time has come, and the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit see their world filled with sin, the curse, and death, and the Son of God looks to the Father and says, “I’ll take it all. Put it on me and kill Me. My blood will pay for a new world.”

Remember these words from Philippians 2,

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name that is above every name, so that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

This was the plan all along.

Jesus, Yahweh Saves, was born in the world to take away the sins of His people, so that they may proclaim, “God is with us” Emmanuel. The Son of God emptied Himself of His heavenly glory and was born in the likeness of man and was obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Jesus came to this world, born of Mary and the Holy Spirit, a sinless man in a curse-filled world and He took that curse upon Himself and that is how He saves.God with us. Now, let me say that again. God with us. Or, God with us. Or even, God with us. Take your pick, emphasize any of those three words, and it baffles the mind.

God with us. Do you know who we are? Hold the mirror of the Scripture up to your heart and see what is there. Guilt, greed, envy, lust, anger, impatience, pride, rebellion, and that is just a small list. And the Incarnation is the Good News that God came to us. He chose a wretch as His own.

Whenever you are feeling crumby, down about yourself, a little depressed, anxious, guilty, ashamed, whatever it is, remember that God came to be with you. Yes, you. You with all your remaining sin and fault and ugliness. God came to be with you. This news is beyond value and ought to comfort your hearts even in the darkest night of your soul.

Let’s emphasize another word. God with us. This hardly needs to be expanded upon. The Triune God, the only uncreated being, the timeless, eternal, unchanging, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, the God who is holy, holy, holy, the God who can allow no unclean thing in His presence, came. This God with us.

How about the middle word? God with us. Oh the joy in such a statement! This is Christmas! God with us. Not God over there, not us in the pit. Not God over us, not God at a distance, not God outside the camp, not God distanced through complex ceremonial laws, not God separated from His people by sin, or the curse, or death.

This is Christmas! God with us. And think about our biggest enemy, that faceless reaper, death. Not even death can break that promise. The Son of God, born in a cursed world, took it all upon Himself. Brought it in the grave with Him, and left it there. Sin, the curse, and death have nothing on you.

God with us.

This is Advent, and the good news of Advent will never cease to be amazing. The gift of Christmas is Emmanuel, our salvation,

Do not fear; God with us.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.