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Willy Wonka, a Chocolate River, and the Sweetness of God

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What is the most pleasant place you can imagine?  Is it a cabin in the forest with a mountain view?  …No mosquitoes, such a large supply of food that you wouldn’t ever have to go the Kroger, and a free book delivery.  Or maybe it’s a mall with all of your favorite stores.  Everything would be free and all the clothes would fit perfectly (with no screaming children)?  Or it could be on your couch with your cell phone turned off staring at a 5,000 inch screen TV with all of your favorite channels.  Let your imagination wander for a few minutes if you’d like.

For the kids (and adults) in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (based on Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), paradise was inside the mysterious, psychedelic, quirky candy factory whose mastermind was an eccentric, secretive, musical hermit.  The innovative, top quality candy Mr. Wonka’s mind thought up and his factory produced gave families inner sweetness and warmth, contrasted to the dark, wintry, oppressive landscape.  This is why the candyman is seen as a miracle worker:  “The candyman can because he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.”

For me, the clearest instance of this is when Mr. Wonka takes his golden-ticket guests into the Chocolate Room.  This room is filled with everything is edible and delectable.  The plants, grass, flowers–everything tastes good.  Its most prominent feature, however, is the Chocolate River flowing in its midst.  Wonka introduces the room with a song:

“If you want to view paradise, simply look around at view it.”  Wonka produced the nearest thing to heaven-on-earth that any of them could imagine.  He made even career-hardened adults’ faces light up with childlike wonder.  Consider the following:

Psalm 36: 7-9 says,

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house,

and you give them drink from the river of your delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light do we see light.

And Psalm 19:9-10,

…The rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether…

sweeter than honey

and drippings of the honeycomb.

Again, Psalm 34:8,

Taste and see that the LORD is good!

And Ezekiel 3, when God gives the prophet his word,

An he said to me, ‘Son of man, eat whatever you find here.  Eat this across, and go, speak to the house of Israel.’ So I opened my mouth, and he gave me this across to eat.  And he said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.’ Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.

The world that Mr. Wonka thought up is so effective because it rings true with what we desire:  A sweet land “flowing with milk and honey” (Ex 3), where we can escape from suffering and the curse of death.  He gives us a sweet, strawberry-flavored lip balm to apply to our chapped, wind-cracked lips.  Why else would a doctor give a child a lollypop after he gave him or her a tetanus shot?

One of the main marks of a Christian, one truly born a second time through faith in Christ, is that the promises of God in the Word of God are sweet to their soul’s tastebuds.   They taste good.  Of course, if you wadded up a page of your Bible and ate it, it wouldn’t taste so good.  What I mean is that, in saving a person, God gives him or her a renewed palate, one that receives Him as sweet who was once bitter and nauseating.  The promises of God are savory because God Himself is their source.

The Bible portrays those who reject God and his covenant as “roots bearing poisonous and bitter fruit” (Deut 29:18).  These are those who hear the promises of God in His Word, yet continue to rebel while presuming that He will be gracious to them in the end:  “I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart” (18:19).  Also, God’s judgment is seen as bitter:  “Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!” (Lam 3:19), and “the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge” (Ez 18:2, etc.)  The outcome for those who reject God is not sweetness, no matter how much they like Easter candy now.  It is bitterness, eternal wormwood and gall.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as he was hanging on a cross of death, tasting the salt of his own sweat, screamed for His God who had forsaken him.  Upon hearing this, a bystander “at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and give it to him to drink” (Matt 27).  He had already told his disciples that he “will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matt 26:29).  Do you see what happened?  Jesus swallowed the bitter wine of death so that we could eternally taste the sweetness of God.  Even from the cross, Christ could taste the “drippings from the honeycomb.”  This was the “joy set before Him”: Being glorified with His Father and in the company of the saints at a great feast (Heb 12:2).  The paradise Jesus promised to the thief on the cross next to him, and still promises to everyone who trusts Him, is a feast sweeter than anything we can imagine, a river of delights always renewing in the experience of Him who is wholly delightful.

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Written by keywoodblog

April 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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