Summary: This is an article I wrote for an online journal. It’s a devotional based on the question asked about Aslan: Is he safe? The answer was : No, but he’s good. That’s God’s plans for us too: not safe but good.
Is the Lion Safe?
I’ve been a fan of the Chronicles of Narnia for several years now. What’s funny about it is that it was recommended to me by a friend of mine who is decidedly not a believer. That’s funny because Narnia was written by a man who worked hard to make his Christian faith known through his writings, Clive Staples Lewis. His family and friends called him Jack, but he is commonly known as CS Lewis.
The Chronicles of Narnia is a seven-book series written between 1950 and 1956. The first one written and published is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (even though all box sets published nowadays has Lion listed as #2). This book is getting a lot of attention this season, because it has become a major motion picture released this month.
The book/movie is not strictly an allegory, as in, each person or event representing something else in real life. But there are many parallels between the book and the Bible. The most notable connection is Aslan, the lion in the title of the story. I’ll let some quotes from the book describe who Aslan is, but let me first give you some background to the story.
Narnia is another world. Four British schoolchildren, fleeing the air raids of London in World War II, stumble upon a wardrobe (read: walk-in closet for us on this side of the pond) in an old mysterious house in the countryside. This wardrobe, they find, leads them into Narnia, a land covered in snow.
In fact, Narnia always has snow, because there it is always winter. What’s more, in Narnia it is always winter, and never Christmas. It is at the same time wonderful and bleak. You see, Narnia is under a curse. The White Witch Jadis has been ruling the land for 100 years now, keeping Narnians under her thumb with her curse of winter. Oh, that and the fact that she turns her enemies into stone statues.
But the children, the Pevensie siblings, stumble into Narnia at just the right time. They sit down to supper at Mr. and Mrs. Beaver’s house for fresh fish and potatoes. After supper, Mr. Beaver reveals an interesting tibdit of information. The Pevensies find out that they are part of an old prophecy which states that four human children – Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve – would sit on four thrones at the beautiful castle of Cair Paravel, and would rule Narnia. But the key is this: they would not do it on their own, because “Aslan is on the move.”
At the mention of Aslan, the children each feel a wave of emotion wash over them. Peter, the oldest, suddenly feels very brave and adventurous. Susan and Lucy feel that they are in a wonderful dream. But Edmund, soon to be a traitor, feels guilty and unworthy.
So the children ask: who is Aslan? Well, Aslan is the King and the Lord of the whole wood, Narnia, but he isn’t always there. But the word is, Aslan is back, or at least on his way back.
And he would fix the situation in Narnia. The Witch, whose favorite tactic is turning people and creatures to stone, can’t do that to Aslan. There’s an old saying,
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
You see, Aslan is not just a lion, but he’s a great Lion. He’s the King of the Beasts, and the real ruler of Narnia. Now, Susan asks the beavers, “Is he safe?”
Mrs. Beaver says, “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
Lucy asks, “Then he isn’t safe?”
And Mr. Beaver says this famous line about Aslan: “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
This is the King. Certainly not safe, but most certainly good. And when he arrives, he will dispel the winter and bring in the spring and break the Witch’s curse and bring new life.
This reminds me of Jesus, the Lion of Judah, especially at this time of the year. Jesus broke the curse of fallen humanity, in a world of always winter and never Christmas. Christmas – Jesus – changed all that.
But is Jesus safe? Was Jesus’ first arrival on earth safe?
Of course not. It cost Bethlehem mothers their babies by the order of the insecure King Herod. It cost Mary her own plans for her family and her life. It cost Joseph the stigma of being the husband to an unfaithful wife. It cost the wise men a long journey and expensive gifts. It cost the shepherds their jobs, eventually anyway, because the baby born in Bethlehem would end the sacrifice of the shepherds’ flocks.