Hello again everyone, and welcome to a very special edition of Character Connections. Yes, you read that right, a special edition. The subject of this special article has been the source of much talk. I have read numerous books and articles comparing these two. I have heard many discussions, seen much writing, and thought quite often about this connection. In honor of the Easter season, I was asked if I would be interested in taking my turn at discussing the similarities between these two, and I was more than willing to do so. This special edition will explore the heart and soul of both the Chronicles and the Bible: the Great Lion Aslan, and Jesus, the Lion of Judah.
It Isn’t Narnia, You Know…
There are so many directions to go with such a comparison, I hardly know where to begin. So I suppose the best way to go about it is to turn to Lewis himself. In the very last scene of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy and Edmund are told by Aslan that they are too old to come back to Narnia. Lucy, through her tears, says, “It isn’t Narnia, you know. It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?” To this Aslan replies that they will meet him there. And when Edmund asks whether he is there too, Aslan answers, “I am. But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason you why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
A Child Inquires
What is this other name? What is the name that Aslan goes by in our world? Lewis was asked this question by a little girl named Hila. We can find his response in Letters to Children, and it runs like this: “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 that 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 (see the end of the Dawn Treader). Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over and let me know your answer!”
So, let’s examine these point by point. Lewis first compares the arrival of Father Christmas. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, part of the effects of the Witch’s power is that it is always winter, and never Christmas. However, Father Christmas does eventually break through, saying, “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.” And in our world, Christmas is a celebration of the arrival of Jesus, a day to remember his birth. So this first point of Lewis’ does seem to point to Jesus.
A Mighty Father
Secondly, both said they were the Son of the Great Emperor. Several times in the Chronicles, we find that Aslan is the son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. Mr. Beaver says that he is “the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea.” We are told that Shasta “knew none of the true stories about Aslan, the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-over-the-sea, the King above all High Kings in Narnia.” Tirian hears someone say to Tash, “Begone, Monster, and take your lawful prey to your own place: in the name of Aslan and Aslan’s great Father the Emperor-over-the-Sea.” And in the same way, Jesus is the Son of God, the son of the Great Emperor of our world. He refers to God as his father in multiple places: his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane, during his teachings, and even while hanging on the cross as he breathes his last, he says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
Next, Lewis tells us they both gave themselves up, for no fault of their own but for someone else, and were jeered at and killed. Aslan certainly fits this description. Edmund’s treachery, according to the Deep Magic, required death. In order to save Edmund, Aslan, even though he had not done anything himself, willingly gave his own life in place of Edmund’s. Not only that, before the White Witch killed him on the Stone Table, his mane was shaved, he was bound, jeered at, and ridiculed. In the same way, Jesus, though tempted, was sinless. Instead, he took the penalty for the sins of all of us: death. And not just any death, either. He was also ridiculed, mocked and jeered at, flogged and hung on a cross. Both Aslan and Jesus were willing to give their very lives for a death that others deserved.
But this is not the end of the story. Lewis’s next point is that both came to life again. Who can forget the glorious moment in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where readers, along with Susan and Lucy, discover that Aslan is not dead, but has come back to life? For as Aslan tells both them and us, “When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.” And after his explanation, the three have a “romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia.” One can imagine similar joy and elation when Jesus rose from the dead. He was seen by Mary Magdalene, his disciples, and many others after his glorious resurrection. It’s also interesting to note that just as Susan wonders whether Aslan is a ghost when she sees him alive again, the disciples “were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost” when they see Jesus alive again, according to Luke 24.
The Lion and the Lamb
Finally, Lewis mentions that both are sometimes referred to as a lamb. The scene he mentions in Voyage of the Dawn Treader occurs in the very last pages, when Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace have watched Reepicheep sail off into the distance and are treated to a meal by a lamb. When this lamb is asked by Edmund if there is a way to Aslan’s country from this world, the lamb responds, ” ‘There is a way into my country from all the worlds,’ said the lamb; but as he spoke, his snowy white flushed into tawny gold and his size changed and he was Aslan himself, towering above them and scattering light from his mane.” In the same way, John the Baptist says of Jesus when He comes toward him, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) Jesus also appears as a lamb in his disciple John’s vision that is the book of Revelation. In chapter five, John writes, ” ‘See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders.” (Revelation 5:5-6)
Reflecting on Glory
There are many more similarities I could go into. But I leave these for you to discover on your own. The important thing is that one realizes that they are there. This Easter season, remember the sacrifice that Aslan made for Edmund, and the sacrifice that Jesus made for each and every one of us. Remember the glorious moment that Susan and Lucy lived when they saw Aslan alive again, and the glorious moment so many had in seeing Jesus alive again. Remember the hope Narnia had in Aslan’s resurrection, and remember the hope we all have as a result of Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection. May you all take the time to reflect on the true reason for Easter, and have a very blessed holiday.
So What? A Postscript by Kristi
Aslan said and did many wonderful things, but they are nothing compared to the real things Jesus has said and done. We cannot meet Aslan, but we can know Jesus. It is not enough to belong to a church. It is not enough to do good deeds all your life. Being born in a Christian nation won’t do it, nor will having Christian parents or wearing a cross around your neck. So how can we know Jesus on this earth, and spend eternity with him in heaven?
In the Bible, A man named Nicodemus went to Jesus and asked him how to get to heaven. Nicodemus was probably a better person than any of us. He was a leader of Israel, a man who studied the scriptures, quoted the scriptures, sang the scriptures. He obeyed all the laws of God. You would have expected Jesus to pat him on the back and say “Well done. Heaven is waiting for you.” But he doesn’t. Jesus says, “You must be born again.” And that means to give God all of your heart and all of your life. If you want to do this, you need to start with a simple but meaningful prayer. I’ve provided an example:
Dear Father in heaven,
I know that I am a sinner and that this sin has kept me away from You. I ask you to forgive my sins. I believe that Jesus is your only Son and that He died on the cross so that I could be forgiven and have eternal life in heaven. Jesus, I believe that you rose from the dead and I ask you to come into my heart and be my personal Lord and Savior. Help me obey you and do your will for the rest of my life.
In Jesus’ name,
If you prayed this prayer, or one like it, welcome to the family of God. Now, follow the Bible’s plan to grow closer to Him:
- Get baptized as Jesus commanded.
- Tell someone else about your decision to follow Jesus.
- Get a Bible and spend some time with God every day, reading and praying.
- Spend time with other believers who can be friends, answer your questions, and help you grow as a Christian.
- Find a local church where you can worship God.
May God bless you this Easter and throughout the year.