Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lord, To Which Stream Shall We Go?

The wood was so still that it was not difficult to decide where the sound was coming from. It grew clearer ever moment and, sooner than she expected, she came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass, running across the turf a stone's throw away from her. But although the sight of water made her fell ten times thirstier than before, she didn't rush forward and drink. She stood as still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a very good reason; just on this side of the stream lay the lion.

It lay with its head raised and two fore-paws out in front of it, like the lions in Trafalgar Square. She knew at once that it had seen her, for it eyes looked straight into hers for a moment and then turned away - as if it knew her quite well and didn't think much of her.

"If I run away, it'll be after me in a moment," thought Jill. "And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth." Anyway, she couldn't have moved if she had tried, and she couldn't take her eyes off it. How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first.

"If you're thirsty, you may drink."

They were the first words she had heard since Scrubb had spoken to her on the edge of the cliff. For a second she stared here and there, wondering who had spoken. Then the voice said again, "If you are thirsty, come and drink," and of course she remembered what Scrubb had said about animals talking in that other world, and realized that it was the lion speaking. Anyway, she had seen its lips move this time, and the voci was not like a man's. It was deeper, wilder and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in a different sort of way.

"Are you not thirsty?" said the Lion.
"I am dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the Lion.
"May I - could I - would yo mind going away while I do?" said Jill.

The Lion only answered this by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

"Will you promise not to - do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill.
"I make no promise," said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.

"Do you eat girls?" she said.
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it was boastin, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

"I daren't come and drink" said Jill.
"Then you will die of thirst," said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion. (C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, p. 20-22)

So went Jill Pole's first encounter with Aslan. And though she didn't say it, she very well could have echoed Peter's words from John 6: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." There is no other Word. There is no other stream. There is no other Lion. There is no other way, truth or life. For there is only one Name under heaven by which men are saved. Jesus, Name above all names. His Name saves. His Word saves.

Jesus places His Name and Word upon you in Baptism - a stream of living water; you are born of water and Spirit, you are buried and raised again to new life in Christ, with Christ by Christ.
Jesus feeds you in His Name and by His Word in the Lord's Supper - a crimson stream that flows from his riven side to the chalice to your mouth. Here is living bread. Here is a true food and drink. Here is Christ's blood shed for you, take drink and live forever. Jesus declares His Name and His promises to you in his terrifying yet quickening Word: Yes, you are a sinner and you are forgiven all your sins. Come, buy water and food without price. For the price has been paid by the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. No he is not tame, but he is good.

Lord, to which stream, to whom shall we go? There is no other stream. You fed and slaked the thirst of the Israelites by manna and rock and you feed us with Yourself. You have the Words, the waters, the body and blood of eternal life. And these Words are Spirit and Life.

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