The idea that Christ is the corn king – the fulfillment of the myths that thread through history – rings loud and often in Lewis’s work. In Miracles Lewis presents the Incarnation as the greatest of all the signs of God.
What is meant by God becoming human? “In what sense is it conceivable that eternal self-existent Spirit… should be so combined with a natural human organism as to make one person?” asks Lewis. It is conceivable because we see in God’s descent, our own.
Lewis famously said that none of us have met mere mortals (see Weight of Glory) because, whether we are dying to heaven’s reward or falling for hell’s charms, all of us will live eternally. And this eternal sense of being is formed inside our throw-away human structure that is our body. Lewis says it this way –
“We can understand that if God so descends into human spirit, and human spirit so descends into Nature, and our thoughts into our senses of passions, and if adult minds can descend into sympathy with children, and men into sympathy with beasts, then everything hangs together and the total reality, both Natural and Supernatural, in which we are living is more multifariously and subtly harmonious than we had suspected.”
To Lewis, the truth of God is defined by dipping low into humanity- to become the “least of these.” His omniscience is traded for suspended knowledge, his eternity for time and space, his immutability for flesh and blood, his privilege of heaven for the craftiness of earth. Lewis likens the descent of Jesus like a diver who goes deeper and deeper into the bowels of the sea, into “the death-like region of ooze and slime and old decay.” But the diver can’t stay submerged. He must reascend.
The cycle of death and re-birth is not unique to Christianity, but Lewis argues that Christianity fulfills such myths because God alone is not inside the cycle, but the maker of it. “He is not the soul of Nature nor of any part of Nature,” Lewis says. “He inhabits eternity: He dwells in the high and holy place: heaven is His throne, not His vehicle, earth is His footstool, not his vesture.”
The early church knew this well. The Creeds of Nicea, and, especially Chalcedon, support this view of Jesus – “… begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures, inconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably…” (Chalcedon)
Therefore, the death and resurrection of Jesus is more than the completion of a cycle. As the “Die-er” of the universe, he represents humanity in its absolute and complete death. “Because Vicariousness is the very idiom of the reality he has created,” Lewis says, “His death can become ours.”
And, as Lent (which began last Wednesday) leads us to Easter, his resurrection can be ours as well.