“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Story Reflected: Christus Victor

It was night. I was standing on barren and desolate ground. Dark clouds covered the sky - there was no starlight. I looked around and saw a tree some distance away, on the top of a hill. As I climbed the hill I saw that the tree was old and strong; its roots dug deep, and its branches grew high. But as I came closer I saw that no leaves hung upon its branches; the tree seemed to be dead.

Before the tree was a stone altar. It was square, seven feet by seven feet, and three feet high. I looked closely and saw writing graven on the stone, but I could not read the language. The dead tree loomed over the altar, under the dark sky. It was a bleak and hopeless place. The air was still, the tree motionless, as if waiting silently.

As I stood there I knew at once, with absolute certainty, that the place was very old - older than the earth itself, older than the stars that lay hidden behind the black clouds. I knew also that that place would endure forever.

Suddenly I cried out, for I saw something moving on the ground. A great serpent came towards me. It curled itself around the tree, as if to signal its possession. It came to me, and at once I obeyed, for I knew the serpent's command that I stand aside and watch what was about to happen.

A lamb was climbing the hill. It was completely silent, making no sound at all, and it came slowly, as if it was very weak. As it approached the tree and the altar, the serpent moved quickly towards it. It circled around the lamb, hissing at it and speaking to it in some ancient tongue. I was afraid. But the lamb seemed not to see the serpent. It looked only at the tree that stood before it now, and when it came to the altar it stopped.

Once again I knew the serpent's command. I took the lamb into my arms and lifted it onto the altar. As I saw its face I wept, for I knew why the lamb had come. The sky grew darker. Again I knew the command of the serpent as it circled the altar. I took the rope that I had brought with me and bound the lamb to the altar.

For a moment the clouds parted and the starlight shone through upon the lamb, a pure and perfect light in that darkness. Then all was night again. The serpent came, and in terror I watched as it descended upon the altar and struck the lamb. It sunk its teeth deep into the body, releasing its poison into the veins of the lamb. As I saw the blood begin to flow I knew, once again with certainty, that the lamb was dead. It was defeated by the serpent, and I had bound it to the altar. I bowed my head and turned away in despair. Night had come.

But a strange thing happened then. I did not know why, but I had lifted my head, and what I saw terrified me. The serpent thrashed its body as if in great anguish, but it could not release its fangs from the lamb. It too was bound to the altar. I stood, and walked towards the altar. The blood of the lamb covered the stone surface and had begun to fall off the edge onto the barren ground. I trembled in awe and fear at what I saw, for the serpent's poison was no match for the blood of the lamb. A greater power was at work, for as the blood flowed it destroyed the poison until the serpent's fangs were empty and dry, without their sting. Finally the serpent fell to the ground, as if it had itself been released from the jaws of this strange power.

At once fire came down from heaven and consumed the body of the lamb. The great tree too was covered in flames. My eyes grew wide as I watched this new light in the darkness. The body of the lamb I saw no more, for the flames covered the altar. From the fire upon the altar leapt a great Lion, bright and golden. Immediately the Lion fell upon the cowering serpent and tore its ruined fangs from its mouth. And the serpent, knowing the command of the Lion, departed from that place, broken and defeated by the Lion and the Lamb.

Rain began to fall, watering the dead ground and washing away its brokenness. On the ground by the altar lay also the blood of the lamb, healing the earth of its wounds. The sky grew lighter, and I knew that heaven was opened and the veil of darkness torn. Then the Lion turned towards me, his face like the sun shining in all its brilliance, and I fell to the ground before him and wept. I knew his love for me, for I had seen it in the face of the Lamb. My tears fell to the ground, becoming one with the rain from heaven. The Lion led me to the tree, and though it had been dead it was now in full bloom, bearing much fruit. Through fire and water it had come to new life. "Come, take and eat," said the Lion, and a dove flew down to me, carrying a bright red fruit from the tree. I took it and ate.

Then I heard a voice from heaven saying “whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Who will tell of the Lamb that was slain and the Lion who broke the power of the serpent? Who will tell of the blood of the Lamb and of the fruit of the tree of life?” And I said “here am I, send me.”

2 comments:

  1. Great, thanks. A gift to me this afternoon.

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  2. Beautiful and piercingly expressive...the breathings of a most ancient truth. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete