Horses, Humans, Hope and Faith
John 20: 24-31
In the Chronicles of Narnia, by British author C. S. Lewis, Lewis writes the story of The Horse and His Boy. In this story Shasta, a Narnian, starts the story as a slave in the foreign nation of Calormen. A royal visitor stays with Shasta’s master for the night. Shasta over hears his master and his guest talking of buying Shasta. Shasta enters the stable troubled. As he pets the horse that the stranger rode, he wonders aloud to the hose concerning his fate with his new master. The horse, Bree, upon telling Shasta that the new master is no good, hatches a plan to run away with the boy to Narnia. The book tells the story of the twosome’s, turned foursome’s, travel to Narnia.
There is far too much to the story to discuss here. What is necessary here is that Bree is an arrogant horse that thinks much of himself, after living among the normal horses of Calormen. Aravis, a Calormen herself, has heard stories of Aslan, by whom the Horse swears. She asks Bree if he really is a Lion, noting that the stories of Aslan say he is really a lion.
Bee does not think so. While discussing the fact that Aslan is not a Lion, noting the disrespect to the person that that would be, Aslan, who is in fact, a lion appears and scares him. In the book, Lewis writes in a fashion that harkens to the language used in the gospel of John:
So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe." (John 20:25 ESV)
It strikes me that there is an interest in the adaption of the story. Let us look at these stories for a moment. In one, a horse does not believe that the stories of man that says that Aslan is a man. In the other, a man does not believe that Jesus, the man with whom he has spent the last three years, is actually alive as other men say. Bree is noted to be a fool. Thomas falls on his knees proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and God; with Jesus noting that his faith was only through seeing.
I do not see the most obvious point of the biblical narrative as being that Jesus is not simply a ghost, but is actually physically alive. I think that is true; but, only incidentally. The reason being that Thomas does not question that they saw the Lord, he questions the implications of their statement that Jesus is physically alive. However, this is a short diversion to no real purpose here.
Why was Bree convinced that Aslan was not a beast like he? Why was Thomas not convinced that all Jesus has said had not come to pass, including his resurrection? I propose that the correct answer is simplicity of heart. Bree longed for Aslan’s country, a country where he could be like the king, without expecting the king to be like him. Thomas finds himself in the same position. Jesus has died, but is raised to new life like he was through Christ. Jesus should have gone to be with the Father, and he would, but beasts call for the freer of beasts to be like them. So, even as Aslan is “enfleashed” in Bree’s thoughts. So Jesus is “enfleashed” in Thomas’ hands. Faith called for substance. Hope called for more life. Faith means I seek a person not like me, someone to whom I can run in hard times. Hope wants a savior like me. Faith wants something beyond my capacity to comprehend. Hope calls for me to what is beyond my comprehension. In the moment, that Aslan startled Bree; he not only learned that what he has imaged is wrong in the simplest way, but that that simplicity itself has baffled him. Thomas, hoped to see, so much that he did not expect.
The point being Faith and Hope work together. The transformation that is wrought in me at the seeing of Christ and experiencing him in flesh, causes the birth of heaven in me so that I begin to be transformed into the person that I am becoming, while letting the now me know that there is something beyond me that is living in me to allow me to overcome me now to the Glory of God.
Hope brings desire, faith brings substance, but hope when focused on the Personification of who I want to be, moves me while faith allows me to know that to which I am called in now with me. Faith and hope, when focused on Christ, transform my world for me, and me for my world, setting Christ in me to accomplish all he has for me now, while I wait for all he has for me. I am most me, when I am not me, but rather becoming me, through who know me more then I do, and transforms who I am and how I see the world.