The Day Lewis Died
C. S. Lewis loved mythology. From the age of twelve and well into his adult life, Lewis was an atheist. One of the things that drove him to his atheism was the problem of pain. He could not understand how God could allow bad things to happen. However, one day it dawned on him that he had this idea of “good” which he should have never discovered if God did not exist. If there was no God, there was no good or evil, yet he knew that good and evil were real. It was this discovery that began to lead Lewis out of his atheism. Until that time, he merely considered Christianity to be a myth.
Ironically, it was another master of mythology who helped put Lewis on the path to belief in Jesus Christ. J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Lord of the Rings, was a colleague of Lewis’ at Magdellan College in Oxford, England. These two giants of literature, after having an intense after-dinner conversation about faith, took a stroll around Addison’s Walk near the Cherwell River adjacent to the College. By the time that walk was over, Lewis was moving very near the belief that Jesus was the Christ.
Lewis went on to become one of the greatest Christian philosophers and apologists of the twentieth century. He achieved such recognition for his work that he appeared on the cover of Time shortly after the publication of The Screwtape Letters. Tolkien would later come to believe Lewis was “too evangelistic” with the Christian faith.
On November 22, 1963, at 4:00 pm, C. S. Lewis was nearing death. He was taken a cup of tea and, although he was groggy and slurred of speech, seemed to be in good spirits. About an hour and one-half later, his caregiver heard a loud crash. Lewis had collapsed at the foot of the bed and within about four minutes quit breathing. Lewis was dead. At that very time it was 11:30 am in Dallas, Texas. America’s young dynamic president was in a motorcade moving through downtown. Three shots rang out and John F. Kennedy was dead.
Nobody much noticed the day C. S. Lewis died. It was a somewhat fitting end for a man that achieved so much fame, yet preferred a simple, quiet life of books, pubs, walks, and the comfort of his very modest home outside Oxford that was named The Kilns. Although the world little noted his death, his writings live on. It was C. S. Lewis who forever put to rest the ridiculous notion that Jesus was a good man, but surely not divine. Lewis insightfully pointed out that such was nonsense. Jesus makes you choose. He is a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord. He has not left us the option of saying he was merely a good man. Lewis said He never intended to leave us that option.
Like Lewis, the day Christ died most of the world took little notice. Aside from the events recorded in the Bible relating to His time of death, it is probably that many even in Jerusalem did not note his death. However, because of His victory over death on the third day, the whole world was forced to take notice. It became the central defining moment in all of human history. We even date our calendars by the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus’ death is remembered not just because His words live on, but because He Himself lives again. Indeed, He was more than just a good man. He is the Lord of Life. By His death, we are forgiven and by His resurrection, we will live again.
23 July 2003