It was about 50 years ago. At the tender age of seven. I recall hearing CS Lewis’s classic Narnia book being read to us as a class by our teacher Miss Davey. And I knew something was wrong. Something was just not right. They had taken Aslan, the big, powerful, kind lion, and they were shaving his mane off and tying him up, and doing terrible things to him. It was awful. And I didn’t like it.
I had no idea at that moment that Aslan represented Jesus, and that this terrible scene was a kind of allegory about Good Friday. I think it was probably years before I made that connection. But somewhere deep inside I just had this feeling that something terrible was going on. This day of days is a mysterious one. On one level the son of God is dying to change the world and bring new life. But there is so much more to it too. In this grim scene from The Chronicles of Narnia Aslan is offering himself in place of Edmund, who has blown it big time, betrayed them all, opened the door for the White Queen. Justice must be done and Aslan will pay the price for Edmund. In his book Simply Jesus Tom Wright likens what is happening to the ancient account of David and Goliath. David steps forward as a representative of his people, one man taking on an ugly, destructive giant. His battle is their battle, and his win is theirs. Here Jesus steps forward, offers himself, fights this battle, not with a sling or a sword or any kind of violent means, but with humility, sacrifice, courage and compassion. He is fighting for us, for you and me, but for so much more too. For the universe. The whole of creation. To usher in a new age, the start of the kingdom of God working on earth in a whole new way. It’s a lot to take in isn’t it? And of course, as Jesus hung on that cross, looking like a failure, it didn’t look like a new start at all. He had been broken, belittled, mocked and murdered. Like poor Aslan.
And there we must leave this story. For now. As we sit here in this strangest of Easters. Locked down. Waiting. Hoping. Praying. Watching out for others. Aware of those who are vulnerable. And those who are caring for them. Empty Saturday follows Good Friday. A day for all of us who at times wait and wonder and hope and doubt and fear and lose sleep. We cannot rush anywhere right now. And the deep work of Good Friday continues. We wait and long for an Easter Sunday for the world. For resurrection and a new dawn. Seeds grow in the dark. Slowly. And perhaps many seeds are being planted at the moment. Seeds of change. We hope so. I recently put together this picture, to try and capture something of the mystery and depth and layers of Good Friday. I’ll leave you with it.