WOULD JESUS HAVE DIED FOR JUST THE ONE?
“When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you’d been the only man in the world.” — C.S. Lewis
The literary great, C.S. Lewis, proposes that Christ’s love for us is so vast that He would have died for us even if we had been the only person in the world. Our Lord would have faced the cross for us alone. Is this true? Theologians would argue that we could never know, as this would never have happened. Yet what we do know is the heart of God.
We know that God’s love for us is immeasurable… a love beyond compare… a love that can never be found in this world. We understand that He personally cares for each one of us. He is deeply involved in every detail of our lives. His intimate knowledge of our joys, our struggles, our triumphs and our tears is limitless. His abiding presence with us by His Spirit shows that we are His own.
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” — St. Augustine
God places the highest value upon us. We are His creation, the culmination of His created works. We are so valuable that He created us in His image. We are a reflection of Him. Out of His great love for us, Jesus laid down His life so that all mankind could live. We didn’t just happen to be part of the bargain. He came to save us personally because of His deep love for us individually. Perhaps, then, He would have died for just the one.
This idea is played out in the first book of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The land of Narnia is a fantasy world that parallels our world… a land filled with fantastical creatures and talking beasts. The great lion Aslan is the King of Beasts in this created world, as Christ is the King of Kings in our world. Narnia is discovered by four siblings who happen upon the land through a mysterious wardrobe. The world they enter is under the spell of the evil White Witch who has caused it to be always winter and never Christmas.
Yet Aslan, the ruler of Narnia and the story’s Christ figure, is on the move. His return is breaking the power of the White Witch over Narnia. The snow is melting and signs of spring are appearing. However, one brother, Edmund, falls prey to the temptations of the White Witch and betrays his brother, Peter, and sisters, Lucy and Susan. The law of Narnia states that any traitor must die at the hand of the White Witch. The law of the land was created by the Emperor Beyond the Sea, symbolic of God the Father. This “Deep Magic” is not to be defied. The Witch demands of Aslan that Edmund’s life be forfeited to her as the law dictates. Aslan roars…
“Do not cite the Deep Magic to me, Witch. I was there when it was written.” — Aslan
Aslan confers privately with the White Witch. When the two emerge from their council, the Witch appears pleased as Aslan announces that she has renounced her claim upon Edmund’s life. The Narnians rejoice at the news. Aslan is somber, for he has agreed to sacrifice his life for that of the young boy. Just as Christ died in obedience to His Father, so Aslan dies in obedience to the higher laws of the Deep Magic.
“It is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” — Leviticus 17:11
What the White Witch failed to realize was that Narnia’s Deepest Magic, written before the dawn of time, states that… when a willing victim who has committed no treachery is killed in a traitor’s stead, death itself is reversed. The perfect sacrifice will make atonement for all life. Christ is the perfect sacrificial Lamb who redeemed mankind from all sin. Like Christ, Aslan is one without treachery who sacrifices himself to atone for Edmund’s sin.
These sacrifices are acts of love. Death is reversed in the resurrection of Christ. Aslan, too, overcomes death and is resurrected. When the White Witch meets upon the glorified Aslan in battle, she exclaims in disbelief, “Impossible!” While Peter tries bravely to battle the White Witch, Aslan leaps upon her, defeating her once and for all. Narnia is saved and enjoys a new peace under their glorious ruler, Aslan.
“You are not your own, for you have been redeemed at infinite cost.” — 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
C.S. Lewis portrays Aslan as the sacrificial life who willingly dies for the freedom of one boy. Ultimately, Aslan saves all Narnia… yet he dies to save Edmund. Lewis implies in this story that Christ would have done the same. His ultimate sacrifice would have been the atonement for all people… or just one. He would have sacrificed His life for us even if we were the only one. In God’s eyes, one human life is as important as all human lives. As Lewis reasons, if we had been the only one on earth, Jesus would have done no less. How loved we are by our Savior!