To better understand my illustration let me explain the meaning of the word, “Barrow” as I will be using it. When Diane and I were in Scotland we had the chance to visit an example of this rather unique historical edifice. In the middle of a field where cattle were grazing we saw a large hill made of earth, covered with grass. It might have been natural except for its placement on the flat field. It was built centuries before as a gravesite for someone of great importance. Like the pyramids of Egypt, it was impressive and also like the pyramids it had been looted long ago.
We paid our fee and were led by a guide who informed us that we would have to stoop and enter the dark tunnel bent over for about 30 feet until we could stand in the main room. As we stood and began to look around we saw Norse runes which spelled out names and sayings. In essence, they were graffiti scratched into the walls by visitors’ centuries past. One sentence was translated, “Olaf the Tall stood here.” (The name might not have been Olaf. Most of you know how bad I am at remembering names!) The guide suggested that it had been written in humor as they had excavated a great deal of material that the writer had possibly stood upon to inscribe his message for future visitors near the ceiling of the room.
My paraphrase of a story by C.S. Lewis follows:
Near the close of the seventh and final book of the series, “The Chronicles of Narnia” appropriately entitled, “The Last Battle” written by the author C.S. Lewis the central characters are being forced to walk into the dark entrance of just such a barrow. They suspect that they are being tricked into foul play and indeed, an assassin is just inside the unlit passage waiting for them to enter. They state their doubts and an individual described by Lewis as an Eastern prince offers to enter first to confirm their safety. He walks into the dark passage and immediately, they hear the sounds of fighting. The body of the assassin falls out into the light but the prince does not return.
Following this event the children are forced at sword point to enter the barrow. But instead of walking into the darkness they enter an open field of green grass and sweet breezes and soon they are walking with the Christ figure of the Narnian stories, the lion Aslan.
A fascinating aside… As the children walk with Aslan they come upon the Eastern prince who had shown his character and courage earlier. Now he was kneeling in the grass looking downcast. Aslan instructs the children to hold back as he approaches and says, “You are unhappy and it is not my will that you should be unhappy here.” The prince responds, “I know who you are… and all my life I have worshiped Tash.” The Christ figure Aslan responds, “Those who worship in Truth even though they worship Tash worship me. And those who worship in my name but not in truth worship Tash.” Powerful words to contemplate…
Following the children into the barrow are another group of men. They are men of engineering and skill… and they are isolationists. They chant in essence, “We stand for ourselves!” as they enter the portal to heaven. But unlike the children they do not see the glory that surrounds them. The youngest child tries to help them to see the beauty but they swear and strike at her claiming that the sweet grass that she held up for them was dung. Confused, the children are told by Aslan that some will never see the blessings before them… simply because they refuse to do so.
And so we return to our Text…
In the second chapter of the book of Acts the Holy Spirit expresses itself through heavenly tongues. Many from various countries of the world have gathered for the Jewish celebration of Pentecost. They are astonished now to hear uneducated men from the northern province of Galilee praising God in their native languages. They are witnessing an amazing event. But, the passage goes on to say that some sneered and claimed, “They are drunk on new wine!” There will always be those who have blinded themselves to God blessings. They will focus on the pains of childbirth and ignore the miracle of life. They will be swift in their criticism of others. And they will spend their lives attempting to diminish other’s happiness.
The danger for us who see things every day that we celebrate and seek to share is not the sneers or false judgments’ cast upon us by these who have chosen to be blind. It is allowing their poison to take away our sight. To blind oneself to God’s blessings is to ignore God’s sacrificial love displayed every day before our eyes. This is the sin that blinded the religious leaders to God’s presence before them as they caused him to be placed upon the cross. And it continues to blind them from the love so amazing that he was willing to die such a death… that we might see.