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C.S. Lewis and the Lion

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Early one Saturday morning I was on the treadmill at the gym watching “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” on the TV in front of me.

TLWW is the first of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia allegorical series about a wonderland that’s taken hostage by an evil witch.

In the part of the movie that caught my attention, the boy Edmund finds himself in Narnia, in the snow, shivering in his p.j.s, robe and slippers.

Along comes the White Witch in her carriage. She stops and the gnome-like driver pounces on Edmund and draws his knife, but the witch tells him to put the knife down.

She gets out of the carriage — she’s beautiful and ethereal — and she invites him to sit with her where it’s warm.

He gets in the carriage and she wraps him in her fur stole and tells him, “Anything you want I will give you.”

“Can you make me taller?” he asks and she laughs.

Then she offers him Turkish delight (candy), which proves to be his downfall into his bondage. It’s his equivalent to pornography, alcoholism, drug addiction or just plain trying to do life without God.

At that point in the movie my time on the treadmill was up so I left, but I’ve seen the movie a few times and I’ve read the book so I know the story.

The story is about the Lion.

One of my favorite parts of the movie is the first glimpse of the Lion they call Aslan. It’s Lion with a capital L because he’s the allegorical Christ figure. He’s Jesus with a mane and a tail.

When you first see the Lion, you think, “How do they do that? How do they make him look so real?” It’s not Bert Lahr in the “Wizard of Oz.”

But then, as the story progresses you forget that he’s maybe computer-generated or someone in an eerily authentic costume and you start to believe that this Lion has truly come to rescue Edmund and his brother and sisters and all of the people of Narnia who have fallen under the cruel rule of the evil White Witch.

You look at the Lion and you see a being that just might devour you, but at the same time you know that he won’t.

In “The Silver Chair,” another story in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles, the Lion is down by a stream when Edmund’s sister Jill comes for a drink. She’s terribly thirsty, but when she sees the Lion she’s afraid and asks him to go away while she drinks.

The Lion just growls. You don’t ask Jesus to go away without consequence.

“Will you promise not to do anything to me if I come (to drink)?” Jill asks.

“I make no promise,” says the Lion.

“Do you eat girls?”

The Lion tells her, “I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms.”

Lewis writes, “It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.”

Jill replies, “I daren’t come and drink.”

“Then you will die of thirst,” the Lion says.

“Oh dear!” Jill says, coming another step closer. “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

Then the Lion tells her (and us), “There is no other stream.”

In Narnia, the Lion is mighty and powerful and everyone is afraid of him. But the Lion is also kind and merciful. He lets the children climb on top of him and walk with him.

He loves those who love him — and then he dies for them.

The only way that Narnia can be free is if someone sheds blood, so the Lion offers himself as the sacrifice. In that way, the Lion becomes a lamb, slaughtered and slain.

Just like Jesus.

The Bible calls Jesus both the “Lion of Judah” and the “Lamb of God” who takes away the sins of the world.

As the Lion, he is to be feared. He is ferocious.
But as the Lamb, he is gentle and those who are his need never be afraid.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at (352) 564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.