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I posted earlier this week about Cavett finishing listening to me read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," by C.S. Lewis. I had a conversation with a friend who didn't realize all the Christian parallels in the book. ***(Addendum: This friend hadn't actually read the book, though.)*** I thought maybe others out there don't know either. So, without further ado.....here is basically my senior thesis from English IV in high school.
I must first start by saying that I read this book to my 3 and a half (ok, almost 4) year old son without hesitation. He has a hard time sitting still, but comprehension was not an issue. He knew what was going on in the story at all times and learned a few vocabulary words along the way. If you have seen the movie, it has the same plot, but this book is fairly G rated. No graphic or gory details of battles, although a battle is implied. My point is, don't discount a book for a young child just because you think it is too old for them. Cavett asked to read this book. Help them and they will grow--challenge them and they will flourish!
Back to the book. Brief synopsis just in case--4 kids, find a wardrobe and discover another world which is currently being ruled by the White Witch. However, over the course of the book Aslan the Lion returns and saves Narnia and one of the boys, Edmund who was earlier tempted and held captive by the witch.
The main allegory is that of Jesus' crucifixion. Aslan, the lion is the obvious comparison. Many children wrote to Lewis about the underlying meaning of this character and his book. His response to them was this (June 3, 1953):
"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 up for someone else's fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people (4) Came to life again (5) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb? Don't you really know His name in this world? Think it over and tell me your answer!
Let's look deeper:
1--Lewis conveyed this similarity when Father Christmas says, "She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch's magic is weakening." Father Christmas also gives the children gifts and explains that they are tools, not toys. Lewis is referring to Ephesians 6:11-17 that says "Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes."
2--Jesus says in Matthew 26:63-64 that he is the Son of God.
3--Jesus is innocent of sins and he gave His life for all people to save us from eternal death. Aslan does the same for Edmund. And his sadness on the afternoon before his death suggests Christ's prayer that the cup my pass from Him. Matthew 26:39 But the request was not granted and Jesus is arrested, beaten and mocked. Aslan is bound, shaved and harassed.
4--In Lewis' story the Stone Table is representative of the cross on which Jesus died and the curtain which hung in the temple. And after, "the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and rocks split." Matthew 27:51 Both Aslan and Jesus rise again. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb the next morning, but find an empty grave and Jesus greets them on the road. Matthew 28:1-10. While Lucy and Susan, the two girls in Lewis' story, were crying at the empty Stone Table, Alsan appears to them.
There are further allusion such as the Holy Spirit when Aslan breathes life back into the statues. It is as if they are "born again" in the same manner that Jesus bestows his disciples with the gift of the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by a rushing wind and tongues of fire in John 20:22 and Acts 2:1-4. With this rescue of the statues it is just as Matthew 12:40 states that "The Son of Man will be 3 day and 3 nights in the heart of the earth" and He led "captives from captivity." Ephesians 4:8
Another instance is when the Beavers are speaking to the children about Aslan. They recite the old rhyme:
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bears his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
The first line alludes to Matthew 12:18-20 when God declares Jesus as His chosen servant and He will proclaim justice. The beginning of the second line Lewis comments on Hosea 11:10. "They will follow the Lord; He will roar like a Lion. When he roars, His children will come trembling from the west." The second half of the line comes from Isaiah 65:16 "...because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes" as well as my favorite I Corinthians 15:26 "and the last enemy to be destroyed is death"--the death of winter.
Although she is clothed in white, the Witch characterizes the Devil. She has total control over Narnia even to the extent that it is a perpetual winter. It is only when Aslan returns that her spell is broken. She also tempts Edmund with treats of Turkish Delight in order to lure him further and have him bring the other children back to her. The Devil does the same with you and me. He tempts us with worldly desires to the point that we are willing to do his bidding. It is only when Christ becomes Lord of our lives that his power is broken.
If I haven't given you new insight, at least maybe I've sparked a renewed interest in the book for you to dust off the cover and read it in parallel to the crucifixion story. Maybe you can find other verses that would correspond. Share it with a child or share it with a friend. Either way may God show you His love for you through Jesus' story.
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