Deeper Magic (Matthew 7)
1. Our text this morning reminds me of a principle C.S. Lewis makes clear in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. That principle is called the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time. The easiest way to describe it would be how the White Witch describes it in an argument with Aslan:
- “Have you forgotten the Deep Magic?” asked the Witch.
- “Let us say that I have forgotten it,” answered Aslan gravely. “Tell us of this Deep Magic.”
- “Tell you?” said the Witch, her voice growing suddenly shriller. “Tell you what is written on that very Table of Stone which stands beside us? Tell you what is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the fire-stones on the Secret Hill? Tell you what is engraved on the scepter of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea? You at least know the Magic which the Emperor put into Narnia at the very beginning. You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to kill.” …
- “And so,” continued the Witch, “that human creature is mine. His life is forfeit to me. His blood is my property.”
- “Come and take it then,” said the Bull with the man’s head in a great bellowing voice.
- “Fool,” said the Witch with a savage smile that was almost a snarl, “do you really think your master can rob me of my rights by mere force? He knows the Deep Magic better than that. He knows that unless I have blood as the Law says all Narnia will be overturned and perish in fire and water.”
Both the White Witch and Aslan are very familiar with the Deep Magic. The Deep Magic is the basis for life in the world of Narnia. Did you recognize parallels from the Bible in the Witch’s description? The Table of Stone. The stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. The Secret Hill. Mount Sinai. The Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. God the Father. Edmund the traitor. Judas Iscariot. The need for the shedding of blood to atone for sins. All of these are Law images. As you can tell, the Deep Magic is the Law of God upon which the world is founded. It is natural. Creation itself is the epitome of this Law. This is what is known by all men who pay attention to the world around them. The Deep Magic tells what needs to be done to Edmund. It also says that it needs to be done to us. Each of us has betrayed Christ on numerous occasions. We can’t help it. We’re traitors by nature. We deserve to die for our traitorous actions.
2. But what do these things have to do with our text about the wise and foolish builders? Both the White Witch and Aslan have heard the Deep Magic. As the Deep Magic is the basis for life in Narnia, so is the Word of God the basis for life here on earth. Both have heard the Deep Magic. But the Witch only follows it while Aslan understands it. In the same way, we have heard the words of the Law which tell us how we are to live in this life. You can either follow it or understand it. The foolish builder follows it while the wise builder understands it.
3. The foolish man builds his house on the sand. He knows the Deep Magic. He knows the Deep Magic. He follows it. He knows how to build a house. He knows how to make it an architectural work of art. However, he doesn’t put it on a foundation. It’s as if he’s saying, “A well-built house will stand up for itself.” He builds his beach house and waits to be proven right.
4. The wise man builds his house on a rock. He knows the Deep Magic. But he knows both the content as well as its use. He understands it and what to do with it. He uses his knowledge to help those around him. He knows that his house needs a foundation against the storms. The house cannot stand up to them on its own. It needs to be grounded on something firm to be able to stand. It isn’t just knowledge. It’s building a habit of studying. Putting what you study into practice makes the foundation strong. The wise man builds his house with a full foundation and lives there confident it will stand.
5. It is at the end of the argument in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that Aslan uses the Deep Magic to give the Witch an acceptable compromise. Aslan gives the Witch exactly what she thinks she wants—Aslan’s death—but he seems to have a trump card which the Witch doesn’t know. Aslan reveals this trump card to Susan and Lucy as they return to the Table of Stone. It is something greater than the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time. It is the Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time.
- “Who’s done it?” cried Susan. “What does it mean? Is it more magic?”
- “Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
- “Oh, Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
- “Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” said Lucy.
- “Not now,” said Aslan. ….
- “But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
- “It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would know that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward. And now—“
The Deeper Magic is something alien. It is from before Time. Before Creation. The White Witch, being a creature, cannot know this by nature. We cannot understand it by nature either. Aslan, being from before Time, knows the incantation which was there before Time. This Deeper Magic is the basis for life in Heaven. This incantation is the Gospel. The practicing and understanding of the Gospel—which is reality, not magic—is what allows us to grow in our faith and distinguish ourselves as a wise builder rather than a foolish builder. It is this Gospel to which we cling when the storms of life come against us. The Gospel where a willing, innocent victim took the place of a traitor. A traitor who had betrayed HIM! This is what Jesus has done. Jesus took your place and mine. We should be the one whom Satan—characterized by Lewis as the Witch—carries away as his personal property. However, Christ has taken our spot. As Aslan struck a deal with the Witch, Jesus struck a deal with the Devil. However, Satan, as a creature himself, was only using the Deep Magic—the Law which he knew as well as anyone. Jesus was using the Deeper Magic—the Gospel that through His sacrifice the entire human race could be saved.
6. Jesus tells us in the parable that the rain came down on the houses. Hard rain. Enough rain to cause a flood. The winds blew fiercely. The elements did their best to beat against both houses. This happens to us on a daily basis in our lives. Satan and his demons blow fiercely against us with half-truths and suggestions. This world, controlled by Satan, rains down upon us with those things which will make us more popular and more powerful. These things give rise to our own sinful flesh which wants nothing more than to be the master of our own destiny. These are the storms we deal with daily. How does your house stand? It depends on your foundation. Is the foundation the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time or the Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time?
7. The house of the fool was built on sand. It was built using Deep Magic. It is a marvel of architectural genius. Theoretically, this house should be able to stand up to anything. However, the half-truths of Satan and his demons, the pressures of the world and our own sinful pride and desire soon cause our house to crash down upon itself. Having nothing but ourselves for support, our lives implode. We spiral into deep despair wondering where we went wrong—what we could have done better.
8. The house of the wise was built on a rock. Built on the Deeper Magic. It is also an architectural masterpiece. What this house should be able to stand up to is not just theoretical. It’s very practical. This house is certified. Certified tornado proof. The winds of the half-truths from Satan cannot topple this house. Certified flood proof. The rising cares of the world cannot invade this house. Certified earthquake proof. Our sinful pride and desire cannot undermine the foundation of this house. How is it so certified? It’s the foundation. The foundation is stronger than the storms of this life. The one who poured this foundation is the one who laid the foundation of the world. This foundation is more powerful than the storms because the foundation conquered the power of the storms. Before Creation, in the infinitely vast extreme of eternity past, God purposed to send His Son into the world to redeem it after it had fallen. The foundation comes from eternity past—literally Before the Dawn of Time. It was laid then, but it become laid for each of us in our Baptism into Christ’s life, death and resurrection. The storms, which beat against our house, only date back to the Dawn of Time. They cannot conquer what was established before they existed. It is this foundation from eternity past which gives those in this house the assurance of life in the eternal future. This Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time gives those who practice it another Magic—the Deeper Magic for After the End of Time as Lewis could have called the promise of eternal life.
9. How’s your house? How’s it standing? Is it built on the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time or the Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time? Don’t be fooled by the word “magic”. Lewis’ novel is a fantasy where magic is a vehicle used to achieve his plot. God’s Law and the Gospel of Jesus Christ are not magic. Jesus is not a magician. He is not David Copperfield. Jesus is true God and true man who sacrificed Himself to ensure our salvation. Our salvation is the foundation we celebrate more than anything else. Our Baptism gives us the rock for a foundation. Our house stands firm because Christ is our foundation. In the name of that foundation. Amen.