Summary: Part 1 of a series based on The Chronicles of Narnia compares the fictional Aslan with Jesus Christ.
Two weeks ago, I read the book. Last week, I saw the movie. This week, I begin a series of messages based on that book and that movie. So let me ask you, how many of you have either read the book or seen the movie of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?
Okay, well, for those of you who have read the book, let me tell you that I think you’d enjoy the movie. My philosophy has always been, “Why read the book and ruin a good movie.” But I took the chance this time, and I can tell you that the movie is very faithful to the book. Oh, there are a few changes here and there, and there are some quotes that are pivotal in the book which are reworded or replaced in the movie, but by and large it is very faithful to the book written by Clive Staples Lewis over 55 years ago.
We know Clive Staples Lewis better today as C.S. Lewis. But he wasn’t exactly fond of his name. Remember how in the Indiana Jones movies, we find out that “Indiana” was actually the name of the dog? Well, same thing here. As a boy, C.S. Lewis had a dog named Jacksie that was run over by one of the first cars in Ireland, so he decided that he would adopt the name Jacksie for himself, and it was later shortened to Jack. And at the time when Jack wrote this book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, he was in his 50s, a single man with no children. He was a quiet-living professor at Oxford, a writer, and a good friend of J.R.R. Tolkien, of Lord of the Rings fame. In fact, Tolkien played a crucial role in C.S. Lewis examining the claims of Christ, concluding that they were true, and becoming a Christian.
But before that time, Lewis was an adamant atheist. He had rejected Christianity early on, and later said that he had been “very angry with God for not existing.” He was a man committed to reason and logic, and he thought faith couldn’t mix with those. And I love that about Lewis. He really did have a beautiful mind, and it was precisely because of his skills at logic and debate that he eventually became a Christian. After re-examining the claims of Christ and subjecting them to all sorts of scrutiny, he said, “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed.” He didn’t necessarily want to become a Christian… in fact, He resisted the very possibility because it would mean that he would have to give up control of his life to God. He even described himself as “the most reluctant convert of all time.” But when confronted with the facts, he couldn’t hold out any longer.
Let me recommend two of his books to you… first, if you want to learn more about his life and his conversion, read the book “Surprised By Joy.” And if you want to experience his logical approach to Christianity, read what may be his most notable book, “Mere Christianity.”
But it’s because of another book in a series of books that we’re talking about him today. The Chronicles of Narnia is a seven-volume set of books, still popular today, decades after they were first written. The first book that he wrote, which is usually regarded to be the second book in the series, is what you can now see in the theatre… The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Now, this book is not exactly meant to be a retelling of the Gospel story, but there’s no denying that the Christian faith of C.S. Lewis permeates throughout the pages. There are the grand themes of betrayal, death, resurrection, and redemption. There’s the trap of temptation. There’s the binding power or evil. There’s the hope of a Saviour. There are characters like Aslan, who is the image of Jesus, and like the White Witch, who is the Narnian equivalent of the devil. There’s even a reference to the Emperor beyond the sea, who would be God the Father.
So this morning, I’m going to tell you some of the story. I don’t want to ruin it for you if you’re planning on going to the movie, so I won’t get to the climax today. And I won’t get into a lot of the details. But I will tell you the setting, and some of the early developments in the story. Okay?
The story takes place in 1940 during World War II. London is being bombed in the air raids, so four children are sent by their mother out of the city to an old, mysterious house in the countryside where they should be safe. Peter is the oldest at 14, next is Susan at 12, Edmund is 10, and Lucy is 8.