Why wasn’t Aslan a lamb?

I love The Chronicles of Narnia.  C.S. Lewis tells the story of redemption in such powerful prose that adults ponder and children delight.  I would love to write in such a way.

But I question him.  Why was Aslan a lion?  I know the common and correct answer would be because Jesus came from the Tribe of Judah and was referred to as the Lion of Judah.  The lion showed His strength.  It even showed that strength could have compassion.  All of creation fears the lion yet in Narnia it is also the gentlest and most beloved of characters.

Aslan is the representation of Christ in Narnia.  Why then is He not a lamb?  It was a lamb that was slaughtered for our sin, not a lion.  In the beginning when God initiated the sacrificial system He could have used any beast of His creation.  Maybe He should have used the monkey since it is the most intelligent.  It could have been symbolic of man sacrificing the wisdom of self to a higher wisdom.  He could have used the lion, which has always represented the king of the beasts.  One king sacrificed to the King of Kings.  He could have chosen the rabbit, the cuddliest and most readily available of all creatures. They could have represented the most insignificant given to the All-Sufficient. But then again the rat would have best related to our status before the Holy God.  Any animal could have been chosen and we would understand the symbolism but God chose the lamb.  Why?

The lamb represents innocence.  No one fears a lamb.  They are followers and vulnerable creatures.  Weak compared to all predators.

Imagine the scene where the armies of Narnia are gathered together to go to war against the Queen.  Their strength is impressive.  Their banners represent prowess and valor.  All march behind the Sons and Daughters of Eve to the Tent with all eyes peering to see their fearless leader.  He was the One who will lead them to victory.  Knees are bowed in humility before His majesty.  The trumpet blasts and out walks a lamb.

Somehow the effect just isn’t the same.  Even if the apostle John had been there and declared, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  I still don’t believe the confidence level of the army would have soared.

I love having our children, the world, and even believers see our God as a mighty lion.  It’s a real ego-building thing.  We need to see with our own eyes His strength and power.  But I wonder if the last recorded words of Jesus spoken to Paul can help us understand why the lamb was chosen.  “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Revelation 5 describes a similar scene as the one in Narnia.  Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?  But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it.  I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside.  Then one of the elders said to me,  “Do not weep! 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…

The lamb, the weakest and most vulnerable of animals, is the One sitting on the Throne.  God is teaching us a valuable lesson here.  Let’s blend Narnia and the Gospel together to see this truth as it is in the kingdom of God.

The time has arrived.  From before the earth was created, God knew that there would be this day when He would allow all the forces of the enemy to have their moment of battle against Him.  The setting was Jerusalem over 2,000 years ago.  The entire demonic kingdom have gathered their forces led by Lucifer the once most adorned angel.  The creatures of earth are gathered in a fledging army including men of all races and beasts of the fields.  Desperate for victory, they approach their God’s throne seeking His presence to go before them in battle.  Out from the tent walks a meek lamb.  All hearts sink.  How is a lamb going to destroy the enemies of darkness?  Trumpets sound, John shouts, “Behold the Lamb!”  They fall to their knees out of respect but full of doubt and doom.

Battle lines are formed.  The cry for war is sounded.  The Lamb is nowhere to be seen.  Mankind and beast charge to assured defeat not knowing that the Lamb had already entered the enemy’s realm and given His life in their place.

Full of fear and trembling, they meet face-to-face the vilest of demons.  But there is no battle.  The entire demonic force lay down their weapons.  Stunned they look around for an answer.  From the east they see Him.  The Lamb who had been slain for our sin, lives forever in triumph.  Man was never needed to lift a weapon.  Only a Lamb willing to give His life was needed to win the greatest of all battles.

Power is made perfect in weakness.  This is the lesson we must learn.   Behold, Jesus is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.  We are now victorious over sin.  Lift your banner high, sound trumpets, and declare your victory.   The Lamb lives!

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2 responses

  1. I have been thinking about why Aslan is a Lion rather than a Lamb in the Narnia stories.

    I think the passage you quoted in Revelation 5 might have an explanation for this. (Revelation 5 describes a similar scene as the one in Narnia. Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll? But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! 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…)

    As stated in this passage the ELDER said “see the Lion of the tribe of Judah…” and John says, “I looked and saw a Lamb…” We see in this scene that there are two different perspectives on the same event. One is a heavenly perspective, the Elder; and the other is a human or earthly perspective, John’s. From Heaven’s perspective Jesus IS the Lion of the Tribe of Judah while at the same time being the sacrificial Lamb. What John sees from the human/earthly perspective is a “Lamb looking as if it had been slain…”

    In the Narnia stories there are the same two perspectives. The Narnians see “The Lamb” as a Lion because they are “believers” in the “deep magic” while the enemies of Narnia see a weak lamb not realizing that in the weakness of “The Lamb” lies the strength and victory of “The Lion” Thus believers (Christians and Narnians) see Aslan as a Lion and a Lamb at the same time because of their conviction that there is something deeper going on than what meets the eye on the surface. While the enemies can only see a weak lamb and don’t understand the “deep magic” that is understood by the Narnians and Christians. So Aslan is portrayed as a Lion because he triumphed over death and in his triumphant victory the Lamb becomes a Lion while being the same character no matter how a participant or observer “sees” him.

    1. Thanks Marcia, I really loved your Elder and John comments. So true that they saw from different perspectives! Keep adding your insights, they are wonderful.

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