Friday of Easter Week
At the end of his novel, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis has a passage that is reminiscent of this morning’s Gospel. He writes: “Between them and the foot of the sky there was something so white on the green grass that even with their eagles’ eyes they could hardly look at it. They came on and saw that it was a Lamb. ‘Come and have breakfast’, said the Lamb in its sweet milky voice. Then they noticed for the first time that there was a fire lit on the grass and fish roasting on it. They sat down and ate the fish, hungry now for the first time for many days. And it was the most delicious food they had ever tasted.
‘Please, Lamb’, said Lucy, ‘is this the way to Aslan’s country?’ ‘Not for you’, said the Lamb. ‘For you the door into Aslan’s country is from your own world’. ‘What!’ said Edmund. ‘Is there a way into Aslan’s country from our world too?’ ‘There is a way into my country from all the worlds’, said the Lamb; but as he spoke his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his [lion’s] mane.
‘Oh, Aslan’, said Lucy. ‘Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?’ ‘I shall be telling you all the time’, said Aslan. ‘But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder’”.
In this incident, as in the Gospel, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples, whom Lewis calls Lucy and Edmund. They got out of the boat called the Dawn Treader and waded with a wall of water on the left. They waded through lilies until they were on dry sand, and then on grass and there was a Lamb standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Lucy and Edmund saw only a snowy white Lamb, like the one that was sacrificed at Passover, the feast that celebrated the Israelites’ passing through the Red Sea with a wall of water to their right and to their left.
The waves of death rose about them, but they crossed without danger, because the Lord had bridged them by his word, and walked and crossed them on foot. And a way has been appointed for those who cross after him, like Lucy and Edmund and you and me. The Red Sea water is a type of the baptism that saves us now from the waves of death, because Christ has crossed them before us, and stands on the shore of this world to greet those who have been baptized into his death and resurrection.
‘Come and have breakfast”, he says. Eat the Fish that is Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. Eat the Bread of angels, the food of immortality, the most delicious food you will ever taste. And as you eat, you will see that the Lamb of God is Aslan himself, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, scattering the light of Christ from his Lion’s mane.
For us, the way into his country is from our own world of bread and fish, of water and dry land. He will be telling us how to get into his country every time we hear his Word in the liturgy. But he will not tell us how long or short the way will be, because we stand at different points on the shore. But for all of us in this world, the way to the next lies across the river of death, which we need not fear, for Christ is the great Bridge Builder, and he has built a bridge with the wood of his cross.
And we shall not cross on an empty stomach, for Christ will say to us then, as he says to us now, “Come and have breakfast”. Then we shall take the wings of the Dawn Treader and dwell at the sea’s furthest end, for even there his hand will lead us, his right hand will hold us fast.