Sermons About or Influenced by C.S. Lewis

"Lion of Judah: The Undomesticated Christ"

Two weeks ago we took an introductory look at exactly what the Bible says about the reality of evil, the existence of Satan and his demons, and the spiritual warfare in which we each find ourselves. I gave you some notes and scriptures to follow and take home and read asking the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts so that we each might have more wisdom and guidance in "standing against the wiles of the Devil."

I told you that the immediate reason for such a sermon was to lay the foundation for preaching on Jesus' amazing encounter with the man whom we find in this morning's scripture in Mark 5, a man, broken in spirit, mind and body, whose personality had been overwhelmed by the power of evil and then, set free by Jesus. This morning, though, as we consider this passage, I want us to focus, not on Satan and his demons, but on Jesus and his awesome power to overcome them.

Let me ask a question: "How many are familiar with C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia?" For those who are not, both young and old, I encourage you to buy them and read them. The Chronicles of Narnia are a series of seven books in which several children periodically visit the sometimes strange and unusual land of Narnia. Along with meeting the many diverse good and evil characters in Narnia, one character stands out above all the rest. His name is Aslan. He is a talking lion who is both creator and ruler over Narnia. He is called the Son of the Emperor-Beyond-the Sea and Maker of the Stars. In one book he gives his life in exchange for a boy named Edmund who was tricked into being a traitor to his brother and sisters.

Along the way we discover that Aslan has many qualities similar to Jesus Christ in our own world. You will notice from our first scripture in Revelation 5, verse 5, that one name given to Jesus is "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" (5:5). As their guide and friend, the lion Aslan, is wonderfully compassionate and joyful, playful and personal. Yet, there is more. As their loving friend he can also be awesome, solemn and stern. He is, as one character describes him, both "terrible and good" at the same time. Throughout the stories Aslan is depicted as a "wild" and "undomesticated" lion in whose presence everyone feels both danger and safety (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, pp. 64-65, 75-76, 123, 161, 180).

This "untamed," "undomesticated," "somewhat terrifying" attribute of Christ is also seen in our scriptures today. For while Matthew 12, verse 28, tells us that when Jesus cast out demons by the Spirit of God that the kingdom of God came into people's lives, everyone who sees such things are not very happy about it. Let's turn now to our passage in Mark 5. Jesus, who had just helped his fearful disciples cross the stormy Sea of Galilee, now ministers to a man who is demon-possessed, a man who has lost control of his own personality to evil spirits. Look on your bulletin insert and we'll begin at verse 1 of Mark 5.

Mark 5:1-20

Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. {2} And when He [that is Jesus] had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, {3} who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, {4} because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. {5} And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. {6} When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. {7} And he cried out with a loud voice and said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me." {8} For He said to him, "Come out of the man, unclean spirit!" {9} Then He asked him, "What is your name?" And he answered, saying, "My name is Legion; for we are many." {10} Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. {11} Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. {12} So all the demons begged Him, saying, "Send us to the swine, that we may enter them." {13} And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. {14} So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. {15} Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. {16} And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. {17} Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region. {18} And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. {19} However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, "Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you." {20} And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.

May God bless both the reading and hearing of His Holy Word.

Did you notice the response to Jesus? Not everyone was happy at what he did that day; nor is everyone happy at what he still does today. Jesus, in this scripture, unsettles and challenges us - some would even say, exasperates us. Many people like to hear about a "namby-pamby," "buddy-buddy" Jesus, a "gentle Jesus, meek and mild" who always comforts them and never disturbs them, never challenges them beyond where they are at that moment, a Jesus who never expects us to really take him seriously. But that's not the real Jesus. You and I know that.

Yes, Jesus loves and accepts us exactly the way we are when we come to him, but he doesn't want us to stay the way we are. If he did, why would he have died on the cross for us? Why would he both forgive us and expect us to forgive others? Why would he command us to "deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow him"? (Luke 9:23) Why would he tell us to set aside our own selfish desires and to "seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness"? (Matthew 6:33)

The real Jesus cannot be just our friend. He must also be our Lord, our Master, the one who convicts us of our sin, changes us and liberates us from the demonic powers and the destructive temptations and ways of this materialistic world. We cannot domesticate the real Christ into a "Sunday, religious box with nice songs and good feelings" and let him out once a week to comfort us in our troubles. The real Jesus is the untamed and undomesticated Lord of this universe, the king of kings, to whom one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

Mark 5 gives us today three pictures of this undomesticated Christ - first, when the evil spirits encounter him; another, when the demon-possessed man is set free; and third, when the people of his community actually ask Jesus to leave their town. (adapted from an outline by Bill Self, "What Have You to Do With Me?")

Do you see in those first seven verses a picture of torment. When Jesus confronts this Gadarene demoniac, the demons acknowledge Christ. They even know and proclaim him to be the Son of God. I lot of people know who know who Christ is, but are unwilling to publicly call on and follow him as their Savior. But verse seven tells us that they see Jesus as a Tormentor. They want nothing to do with him. In spite of the pain of their situation, it seems easier just to keep things the way they've always been. Are we ever like that? Do we, too, like these demons fear goodness? Do we feel more at home with the agony and distress of spiritual and mental bondage than with the terrifying goodness of Jesus Christ. Often underneath our calmness and sophistication do we not sometimes prefer to hide, from God and others, those inner weaknesses which torment us?

It doesn't have to stay that way. And here is the next picture. Jesus is not only the tormentor of evil and all it stands for, he is the Liberator from its power. If we let him, like this man filled with the Legion of demons - if we open ourselves to Christ and let him into even the deepest recesses of our being - those places of torment and inner suffering, where maybe no one else knows us, he will set us free. Just as Jesus expels these demons from this bound and broken man, He will also deliver us from our places of bondage - our addictions, our fears, our inner torment, those sins which so easily beset us. (Luke 4:18-19; Hebrews 12:1)

Look at the wonderful testimony in verse fifteen of what others saw when Jesus had set this man free, "Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind." I'm going to leave off the last four words right now." (Mark 5:15) And then, in verse 19, how Jesus tells him, and us as well, to "go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you." (Mark 5:19)

But there is a third and final picture of the "Lion of Judah, the undomesticated Christ" in our scripture this morning. Yes, he a tormentor of evil and, praise God, a liberator of those who are bound, but this third image starts with those last four words of verse fifteen and continues through verse seventeen (Stay with me, now. I'm almost done!):

"And they were afraid. {16} And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. {17} Then they began to plead with Him (that is Jesus) to depart from their region.

This is Jesus the Disturber, the one who unsettles us. The one who calls us to put people and their needs before money and things. They saw the healed man, but, first and foremost, they saw the dead pigs, their livelihood. And when Jesus hit their pocketbook, when Jesus got involved with their finances, they asked him to leave. The did not want to deal with a God who could disturb their way of life and Jesus challenged them, as he challenges us today, to put persons before possessions, to put people's needs before our profits. I thank the Lord that we live in a country where we have free enterprise. But just because something is legal, doesn't make it morally right. And these people were unwilling to change, unwilling to put the good of society before the materialistic advantage of a few, unwilling to let Jesus come in and be Lord of their lives.

This morning, the Lion of Judah, the undomesticated Christ comes to us, not to baptize and bless our ways or our viewpoints, but to torment that evil that has become such a common and comfortable part of us. Likewise he has come to disturb those who are satisfied in their own traditions and ways, who have put things before God and his people. But even more, Jesus comes today as our Liberator, the One who sets us free to be all that God created us to be. The One who looks down into each of our hearts and minds and says to us, "Let me set you free. Let me deliver you from yourself and your sin, from Satan and from the desires of this world. Let me call you to myself, so that you can go and tell others of the great things that the Lord has done for you." Amen!

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Last Updated: Sunday, September 02, 2001