The World Through The Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis was a Christian with a deep love of stories, but he and his friend J.R. Tolkien (Oxford don, Lewis a fellow at Oxford) were dissatisfied at the current literature. Lewis said in 1937 “Tollers, there is too little of what we really like in stories. I’m afraid we shall have to write some ourselves”. From that comment came Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings and Lewis’ 7 volumes of the Chronicles of Narnia.
Narnia is a cosmos, a world with a discernible beginning, middle, and end, whose ordered existence Aslan sings into being. Under Aslan’s rule, there are both a natural order and a supernatural or spiritual order. There are the day-to-day deeds, thoughts, and outcomes wrought by each individual, and there is meaning beyond these deeds, thoughts and outcomes, that points to Something Else and to Someone Else. In this, we discover that our lives are not our own but that they rest in Another.
(Bruce Edwards “Not a tame lion”.)
In Narnia there is the world as it is – winter but never Christmas and then there’s the world it was and the world it will become again when it’s out of the rule of the witch. The parallel to earth is obvious and Aslan/Christ is the only one who can restore the original way of life.
Narnia and this/our world share the themes of creation, evil treachery, catastrophe, spoiled lives, sacrifice, grace, redemption, love, judgement, resurrection and restoration – all because Aslan who created Narnia is Christ who created all things.
(Colossians 1:16) sung into being!
The children are us. Aslan represents Jesus. The witch is Satan. The baddies are the demons.
In the story, Lucy finds Narnia first, then tells Edmund, then there are 4 of them who discover the situation and they choose to be involved and fight against the role of the witch to restore Narnia. Aslan then says he will help too, and they carry on until he returns.
Throughout the story there are several Biblical parallels:
A)gifts from Santa - Magi giving gifts to Jesus for His future use
B)changes – Edmund - the power of forgiveness changes Edmund and changes us
C)tent of meeting - the place where God lived and met His people and Aslan met the children
D)Garden of Gethsemane - where Aslan met with his friends and Jesus met with His closest disciples
E)Women at the tomb - the girls were first at the broken altar and Mary was first at the tomb
F)Curtain torn in two - altar cracked in half, the curtain in the Temple was ripped from top to bottom
G)It is finished - Aslan and Jesus on the Cross
H)Jesus’ breath restores life/unfreezes - end of John’s Gospel, Jesus breathes on the disciples and they receive the new life in the Holy Spirit, Aslan’s breath unfreezes the stone people back to life
I)Kings and queens = monsters - Biblical references to principalities and powers, rulers and authorities
J)Aslan going to return –“when you’re not looking but it’s best to keep your eyes open”. - Jesus said that only the Father knew when Jesus would return to this earth
K)What’s done is done. - God’s forgiveness seals the past - “now there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1
Aslan is not a tame lion, and Christ is no weak, watered-down Saviour. He’s the Son of God, present as the Word in creation, born to live, teach, inspire and die to be raised to life as Conqueror of death and Hell. Jesus is ‘Christus victor’ – the one who defeated Satan and his evil. This untamed lion in Aslan willingly surrendered his royal title, his freedom, his power and his life to save Narnia from the rule and reign of the White witch. Aslan is Christ.
At the end of the book ‘Voyage of the Dawn Treader’, Lucy and Edmund meet a lamb who invites them to share breakfast with him. Hoping to see the lion, Lucy asks whether they are on the right path for Aslan’s country. “Not for you”, replied the lamb. “for you, the door to Aslan’s country is from your own world”. Edmund is worried he has misunderstood and so before his eyes, the gentle lamb changes into the great Aslan who says, “There is a way into my country from all the worlds”. Wherever we are, there is a way to Jesus.
Lucy and Edmund have to leave and are deeply sad at the thought of not meeting Aslan again. “But you shall meet me, dear one”, he reassured. “But there I have another name. Here, right where we are, Jesus is known as Saviour, Lord, Redeemer and King.
In June of 1953, and eleven-year old girl named Hila had just such an awakening while reading the Narnia stories – an experience she later described as “an indefinable stirring and longing”. She wrote to C.S. Lewis, inquiring about this “other name” Aslan suggested. She, like Edmund, wanted to know the way into Aslan’s country from our world. Lewis replied:
“As to Aslan’s other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who
1) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas.
2) Said he was the son of the great Emperor.
3) Gave himself us for someone else’s fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people.
4) Came to life again……Don’t you really know His name in this world?
You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you were brought to Narnia, that knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there”.
In May of 1955, the mother of a nine-year old boy named Laurence wrote to C.S Lewis, explaining that Laurence was concerned that he loved Aslan more than Jesus. To her delighted surprise, she received a reply ten days later that included the following:
“Laurence can’t really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that’s what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before.”
The very reason we are here on this earth is so that we can know Jesus a little so that we can better know Him in His Kingdom for ever.
- Aslan is not a tame lion and Jesus is not a tamed God.
The Beaver says, “Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion”. Mrs Beaver adds, “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly”.
“Then he isn’t safe”? said Lucy.
“Safe”, said Mr Beaver, “who said anything about safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you”.
Good people are not always gentle, kind, quiet. Jesus said to a young man looking for an easy way to heaven (Mk 10:17-18) “why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. Good = right – righteous – of the Kingdom. Not always gentle. Quiet, unassuming, gentle, kind people are not always good. Going along with the crowd for a quiet life, not rocking the boat by standing up for the truth, saying nothing when you know something is wrong so that no trouble is caused is not necessarily ‘good’.
Like light, goodness is a powerful concept and a powerful way to live. Goodness can be dangerous. Not letting wrong, evil win can take you to dangerous places, in life and in relationships, at work, with friends. Goodness threatens Satan and his kingdom of darkness, and an enemy of Satan, an ally of the King of Kings, the Lion of Judah is a walking target. Being good is not safe. Aslan is no tame lion and, Jesus is no tame God. His people are not tamed by this world, but are the dangerously powerful force that brings heaven to earth.
- Aslan’s courage has a reason, so did Christ’s.
In “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” Eustace says to Edmund “Do you know him – who is Aslan”?
“Well, he knows me” said Edmund. “He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor over sea, who saved me and saved Narnia”.
Aslan allows himself to be captured, humiliated and killed. He put himself into dangers’ way for a reason. You only find out if you are courageous when life gets difficult – when a decision has to be made, and the right thing to do is the most difficult. Courage to be who Christ calls us to be is a constant challenge, as obeying the Father was for Christ - in Gethsemane “Father let this cup pass from me” – Then His courage said “But not my will but your’s be done”.
The Pevensie children go to stay with The Professor to keep them safe in the country from the war – they think they are there for safety, but really they have been sent there to find a whole new world and to become Aslan’s allies, co-workers in the battle to free Narnia from the effects of evil and to restore the rule and reign of Narnia’s Creator.
That’s our story too. We come to church, faith, Christ to be safe, and when we are there, we find we are called into living in a whole new kingdom where we recognise the King, become His allies and fight with Him to free people from the effects of the sin-wrecked world, to restore heaven to earth.
Christ asks us to be courageous in our faith, for a reason – we stand for what’s right in a wrong world, for good in a bad world, for light in a dark world, for truth in a world of lies. Allying ourselves to the truth and then standing by our decision and telling our story takes courage.
In the Lion Witch and the Wardrobe, Lucy tells the Professor she has been to Narnia. Peter and Susan have not at this point, and so they are worried she has lost her mind. Edmund has also been to Narnia but hides that truth and suggests that Lucy is not to be trusted.
The following is taken from- “Finding God in the Land of Narnia” Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware
The Professor, dismayed that the schools don’t teach logic anymore, exclaims, “There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then, and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth”.
There is an exact parallel to Christ – said by C.S.Lewis in his book Mere Christianity:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God”. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to”.
Christ asks us to be courageous for a reason – people’s lives and eternities are at stake.
The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe is the story of an unexpected journey into a whole other world, where things have gone wrong. People had allowed that which was good to go bad and stay dead. “All it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing”. Aslan offers an alternative to the winter but no Christmas and is willing to fight and die to buy freedom for people who were under an evil rule. He sacrifices himself, and in doing so, breaks the seat of the evil power. A thaw starts and spring arrives. The power of the witch is broken, Narnia and it’s people are returned to the good King’s rule. On the way, the children learned about good and evil, about making choices and their consequences and about the power of love.
The parallel to our life is obvious. Jesus, Lion of Judah, enters a broken, destroyed world and offers Himself to buy back people from the rule of Satan. His death and resurrection set people free. Along the journey with Jesus we get to be part of the plan of redemption for others, to work with Jesus under His direction and leadership to rescue lives, one by one, to bring The Kingdom of God.