It’s one of my first memories. I couldn’t have been more than three. Either my family was visiting friends, or they were visiting us. My mom and other adults were sitting around the kitchen table and, as parents often do when they’re trying to visit with friends, my mom had put a video on for us kids. It was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the old cartoon version.
If I was anything like my four-year-old son, I probably wasn’t tuning into the video, busy playing instead. I don’t remember. I do remember the scene when the witch and her minions killed the lion. I was suddenly tuning in … and absolutely horrified. It was the saddest thing I had ever seen.
Somehow I knew the lion was good, that he didn’t deserve what was happening to him, and that he wasn’t fighting back. He just lay there helpless as they killed him.
I began to cry, deep and racking sobs and I ran to my mom, as kids often do when something is wrong, hoping she could kiss away the pain. But then I saw everyone sitting around and I remember reasoning that they would think I was silly, crying about a movie, and they would just tell me it wasn’t real.
But it was real, to me. Something was so real and so terrible about this Lion dying. And it broke my heart. That was all I remembered.
I read the Chronicles of Narnia when I was 11.
I’m reading through the books with my children now. We’ve watched all the movies that have come out so far in the series, which started with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
I still get bleary-eyed when I read or watch the scene of Aslan’s death, although I know it’s just a movie. It’s just a book. At the same time, it’s so much more than merely a story. Maybe that’s what touched my heart when I was a child, the deep truth within the story.
A Lion who became a Lamb, who chose to die for a traitor, who allowed himself to be led to the slaughter, refusing to fight, refusing to defend himself, instead giving his life as a ransom.
Not just for one traitor, but for all.
I don’t remember watching the next scene when I was young, the part when he rose again. But he did. And it wasn’t just a story.
The tragic scene of that dark night transformed into a brilliant dawn, a dawn that saw the Lion live again, reclaim his throne, and reclaim his own.
The Lion of the tribe of Judah, who lives … in you … and in me.