Lewis: The Mere Christian Message

On this Good Friday/Easter weekend, the Christian message of sacrificial death and resurrection may be brought more to the forefront of minds that normally think little of such things. The message is the same at all times, but this weekend sharpens the focus.

To the natural mind, death is finality. There is no comprehension of how it can be of any good. Yet C. S. Lewis, in his book Miracles, shows us how:

On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more.

On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it.

We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call “ambivalent.” It is Satan’s great weapon and also God’s great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our only hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered.

Death has led to life, which runs counter to what people normally believe. Lewis notes in Mere Christianity, “The central Christian belief is that Christ’s death has somehow put us right with God and given us a fresh start.”

A fresh start. What a glorious concept. I know, personally, how much I needed a fresh start at one point in my life. My sins were forgiven; God treats them as if they never happened. That truth has led me to a constant state of gratitude for His mercy and has pointed the way forward. Lewis again in Mere Christianity:

Now the Christian belief is that if we somehow share the humility and suffering of Christ we shall also share in His conquest of death and find a new life after we have died and in it become perfect, and perfectly happy, creatures. . . .

In Christ a new kind of man appeared: and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us.

Eternal life really begins in this earthly existence if we humbly receive Christ’s sacrifice as our own; death is merely a transfer of that life into a new and heavenly realm.

That is what Good Friday and Easter/Resurrection Day are all about. Let your gratitude for what God has done show in your life today.

The Bible Miniseries: Worth Our Support

I’ve been watching The Bible miniseries on the History Channel. The final installment will be, fittingly, on Easter Sunday. My preferred name for the day is Resurrection Sunday, since that’s a more accurate representation of what took place—the miracle of all miracles.

The series has been drawing astounding numbers. How do I know they’re astounding? Primarily because the critics are astounded. That’s a pretty good indication. They’re rather flabbergasted that such interest exists.

What about the quality of the series? Does it measure up? Is it worth the praise it has been receiving? Generally, I believe so. Yes, I have some quibbles: I would have preferred a Moses who didn’t look quite so wild-eyed—my image of him is far more mature; I don’t know how the producers could cast a black man to play Samson, unless there’s something about the ethnic makeup of the early Hebrews of which I am unaware; and it’s always difficult to manage the perfect portrayal of the Son of God, one that will satisfy everyone’s preconception of how Jesus would have acted and how his persona would have come across to the people of that time.

All that said, The Bible communicates the true message of the gospel, showing the grand overview from the Garden of Eden to the establishment of the church after Jesus’ ascension [although I haven’t seen the final episode, the previews seemed to indicate it would go that far]. Those who haven’t heard a solid Biblical perspective of God’s plans for the ages will see the big picture. The Jesus who is on the small screen is loving, yet One who calls sin for what it is. I await the last installment’s treatment of the path to salvation, but I have high hopes it will be acceptable.

The perfect cinematic presentation of the entire Biblical history and message probably doesn’t yet exist, but I honor those who, with sincere and genuine faith themselves, have painstakingly and lovingly created this latest attempt. I believe God can use it for His purposes, and I trust He has already. Our role is not to cast stones at our brothers and sisters who seek to spread the gospel, but to support them in every way we can. This miniseries deserves our support.

The Resurrection

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him.’ Now I have told you.”

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”

After He said this, He showed them His hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Resurrection Day (not Easter) is the most meaningful day of the year, surpassing Christmas. Yes, Christmas is spectacular, but without the Resurrection, it has no significance. Jesus came not just to be a man, but to voluntarily give His life that we might live. The suffering of Good Friday was followed by the splendor of the Resurrection. As a result, we can receive forgiveness and live in fellowship with the One who gave His all.