Summary: As a lion is passionate about protecting his young, Christ’s passion is his love for you.
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is a Christian allegory, so, it is not surprising that there are people in the world who are attacking this story and Lewis in writing it. Some even say that the Church is making it out to be something it is not. The Bible does use the lion for many ideas, but in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis narrows the scope of the Lion’s symbolism. He chooses one image from the Bible and runs with it. One little girl asked him in a letter who Aslan represented in the real world. This was Lewis’ response:
"Well, I want you to guess. Has there ever 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 elseâ€™s fault, to be jeered at and killed by wicked people,
4) Came to life again, and
5) Is sometimes spoken of as a lamb (see the end of Dawn Trader)?
Don’t you really know His name in this world? Think it over, and let me know your answer."
Here is what he says in a letter to a young woman who was not understanding another book in the series. Lewis recommends that she read The Lion the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
When you have read that, I think you will probably see that there is a deeper meaning behind it. The whole Narnian story is about Christ.
So, not just in some obscure abstract way, or in some psychological subconscious way, but very intentionally Lewis wrote Aslan to represent Jesus and the action of the stories to represent episodes in the Bible and current life issues. He wrote many letters to children who wrote to ask him about it. Evidence suggests that every single child who wrote him and asked, he answered their letter with help to understand what he called, "the story behind the story."
So the question is raised, "Why did Lewis choose this particular image?"
Lions in the Bible
The image of the lion in the Bible is neutral. It is sometimes compared to good and sometimes to bad. We cannot say, "In the Bible the lion always stands for this or that." The best thing to do is to take each reference for exactly what it is saying and not try to read any more into it. Lions are
So lions are symbols of power whatever that power is used for. Sometimes in the Bible, the savage nature of lions symbolizes evil, but at other times the strength and power symbolize good.
> The lion is a symbol of royalty
In the Bible, one of the images that is repeated is the comparison of the king to a lion. It was that way throughout the Ancient Near East. Kings went on hunts for lions and their power to overcome the lion showed their natural fitness to rule the people. One picture shows an Assyrian king killing a lion face to face with a knife.
Solomon especially associated himself with lions very closely. Look at how he designed his throne room:
The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom.
1 Kings 10:19-20 (NIV)
Solomon sat flanked by 14 lions. The lion is a symbol of uninhibited power and the king wields that kind of power. It isn’t any surprise that Solomon said:
A king’s rage is like the roar of a lion,
but his favor is like dew on the grass.
Proverbs 19:12 (NIV)
A king’s wrath is like the roar of a lion;
he who angers him forfeits his life.
Proverbs 20:2 (NIV)
He wanted to leave no room for mistake. He was the lion of Jerusalem.
> The lion is a symbol of God
It is also important to notice that God is compared to a lion in the Bible:
- He pursues the proud with the patience and power of a lion (Job 10:16)
- He protects His people with the passion of a lion (Isaiah 31:4 )
- The way a lion’s roar causes action in people, God’s voice motivates obedience (Amos 3:8)
This is one aspect of God. He is symbolized in many ways, so it would be a mistake to use these somewhat frightening images to represent the whole character of God. However, we are to remember that God is no one to be trifled with. He is powerful and He has the capacity for devastating wrath.