Saturday, March 10, 2012

He Alone Is Worthy

I've been reading Chuck Black's The Kingdom Series to my older two children, and came to the Knights' entry into the King's city yesterday (volume 6, "Kingdom's Reign"). Many of us were disappointed by Aslan's statement to Reepicheep in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (20th Century Fox, 2011) that the little hero could continue into Aslan's country because he (Reepicheep) was "worthy." Sigh. I enjoyed the movie (but loved and was moved by the book much more), but this is poor theology (we could say that Reepicheep was worthy only by the pronouncement and intercession of Aslan, but this is not apparent in the scene). How does Chuck Black handle the entry into the King's City and the question of the worthiness of the Knights?

"I am Micalem - keeper of the City of the King. Who is worthy to enter?" He asked the question with great authority. 
A second Silent Warrior came forward to stand beside him. "What deems a man worthy?" he asked for all to hear. 
Micalem responded with a shout. "He is worthy who has followed the Code without fault. He is worthy who has honored the King with his life and sworn allegiance to Him and Him only. He is worthy who has served the King in truth, justice, and honor. He is worthy who has offered compassion to the weak, the destitute, the widowed, and the poor. He is worthy who has lived for the King and served others without personal gain. He is worthy who has equipped, trained, and prepared for battle against the forces of the Dark Knight. He is worthy who has served the King and fainted not in the day of battle. He is worthy who has not used the sword to seek selfish gain but executed justice and the will of the King. He is worthy who has been merciful, loyal, courageous, faithful, and noble, but above all, who has been humble before the King and before men. He is worthy who words have always been spoken in truth." 
He paused and looked over the people in the courtyard. No one uttered a sound.  
"Who here has fulfilled every article of the Code and is worthy to enter the gate of the City of the King?" he asked again. 
No one dared moved, for we all had failed in some way and were not worthy. It was a solemn moment broken only by a stirring at the back of the courtyard furthest from the gate. Soon all eyes turned to behold what manner of man would dare come forward to meet such a challenge. The throne of people parted to give way for the man's approach to the gate. As the man passed by, people began to kneel, until He was before all and all were kneeling. He stood before the massive Silent Warrior, who suddenly did not look quite as noble with this man near him. 
Micalem opened his hands and spread them low before the Prince. "Only You are worthy, my Prince!" he exclaimed and knelt down before Him. 
The remaining Silent Warriors also knelt before the Prince and exclaimed in unison, "Only He is worthy!" 
The Prince, dressed in royal robes, turned to face us and lifted His hands in the air as if to enclose us in His embrace. "These are worthy, for I died for them and they believed in Me! Open the gates, and welcome them home!" 
The Silent Warriors stood, opened the gates, and blasted forth a song of triumph on their golden trumpets. The people all stood and cheered, for our joy was full and our hearts were home. We were delivered and redeemed, and the Prince had brought us home!

Well done. It is always difficult for me to read passages like this with strong voice. I should add that C.S. Lewis' account of Reepicheep's crossing in "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" (1952) does not address Reepicheep's worthiness. It does have a particularly sweet moment that has always stuck with me. The honorable little warrior who lived and fought for the Lion with his sword suddenly tosses the weapon aside: "Then he took off his sword ('I shall need it no more,' he said) and flung it far away across the lilied sea. Where it fell it stood upright with the hilt above the surface." Wonderful. Yet, as exciting as C.S. Lewis and Chuck Black's allegorical fantasies are, they cannot match the reality:

“I saw in the right hand of Him Who sat on the throne a book written inside and on the back, sealed up with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the book and to break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it. Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, ‘Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.’ And I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God, sent out into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’ And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him Who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’ And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’ And the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:1-14). 
 “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful” (Revelation 17:14).

He alone is worthy! Praise Him with great praise and confess with all that He alone is worthy!

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