THE REAL ASLAN
Who do you think of in fiction literature that is entirely self-sacrificing and gracious? You might consider Boromir from The Fellowship of the Ring a selfish man who became a true hero battling bravely to defend his companions. Or maybe you'll think of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, and The Deathly Hallows as the hero is forced to offer himself up like a lamb to the slaughter - and does this willingly. Or possibly Dally from The Outsiders, who died for the little good he saw in the world: his gang. I want to offer up another self-sacrificing and gracious character in literature for your consideration: Aslan of the Narnia chronicles, specifically The Last Battle.
This final book in the Narnia series is the most complex and exciting of the bunch. It deals with themes like faith, betrayal, forgiveness, hope, and - you guessed it - sacrifice. The story opens with Aslan preparing for his demise; he knows the evil king will kill him, but he goes to his death willingly and with dignity. He knows it is the only way to save Narnia and its people from destruction, so he offers himself up as a sacrifice.
I want to focus on this selfless act - Aslan willingly giving up his life for the greater good. In a world where we are often quick to think of ourselves first, Aslan stands out as a shining example of what it means to put others before oneself genuinely. He is the epitome of sacrificial love, and his act of self-sacrifice serves as a reminder that there is more to life than just our happiness.
I wept and wept and wept that no one was found able to open the scroll, able to read it. One of the Elders said, “Don’t weep. Look—the Lion from Tribe Judah, the Root of David’s Tree, has conquered. He can open the scroll, can rip through the seven seals.” Revelation 5:4-5
Other literary characters could have offered themselves in place of others but chose another route. One of these characters is Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. Gollum was given a chance to save Frodo Baggins from certain death, but instead, he chose to betray him to get the Ring back. Gollum thought only of himself and what he wanted, and in doing so, he brought about his downfall.
In contrast, Aslan thought only of others when he sacrificed himself. He could have run away and saved himself, but he didn't. He knew his death would save Narnia, so he willingly went to his death. Aslan's self-sacrifice is a reminder that there are things in this world that are more important than our happiness - and that is a lesson that we could all stand to learn.
The second example of a character in literature which could have offered themselves in place of another but chose another route is Joffrey Baratheon from Game of Thrones. Not everyone has read or watched it on television, but I am familiar with this story. In the show's fourth season, Joffrey has the opportunity to spare Tyrion Lannister's life, but instead, he sadistically orders his execution. Joffrey is motivated by power and cruelty, and his actions cost him dearly.
Joffrey's story reminds us that there is more to life than just our desires. When motivated by selfishness and greed, we lose more than we could have ever gained. Aslan's story, on the other hand, is a reminder that self-sacrifice can lead to great things. When we put others before ourselves, we often find that we are the ones who benefit the most.
The third example I will give of a character in literature who did NOT sacrifice themselves for another, even if they could be Augustus Caesar from The Eagle of the Ninth. In this story, the Roman general's son is captured by enemy forces and is about to be executed. Augustus could have saved his son's life by surrendering to the enemy, but instead, he foolishly attempts a rescue mission that fails miserably.
Augustus' actions led to the death of his son and the capture of his entire army. He was motivated by pride and arrogance, and his actions cost him dearly. Augustus' story reminds us that sometimes our pride can lead us to foolish decisions that have devastating consequences. Aslan's story, on the other hand, is a reminder that self-sacrifice can lead to great things. When we put others before ourselves, we often find that we are the ones who benefit the most.
Aslan's story is one of sacrifice and love. He is a reminder that there are things in this world that are more important than our happiness - and that is a lesson that we could all stand to learn. And who does the character of Aslan represent?
Some see Aslan as a symbol of Jesus Christ, and there are certainly many parallels between the two. Both are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good and are motivated by love. The author (C.S. Lewis) said of the parallel, "Aslan is a divine figure, sent to Narnia by the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea to save Narnians from evil... I did not say to myself, 'Let us represent Jesus as He is in our world by some lion in Narnia': I said, 'Supposing there was a world like Narnia and it needed a redemption from evil: let us imagine what sort of person that Redeemer might be.'"
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
-John 3:16, MSG
Whether or not you see Aslan as a symbol of Jesus Christ, there is no denying that he is a symbol of self-sacrifice and love. And that is a message from which we can all benefit.
However, it is ultimately up to the reader to decide who or what Aslan represents. Whether you see him as a symbol of Jesus Christ or simply as a selfless and gracious character, there is no denying that Aslan is one of the most sacrificial and compassionate characters in all literature.
For me, he DOES represent Jesus Christ because he is the only one in all of the literature who was willing to die IN PLACE OF ANOTHER. And that, to me, is the definition of true love. Jesus Christ died for our sins so that we might have eternal life. Aslan sacrificed himself for Edmund, even though Edmund was undeserving of such grace.
Aslan is a reminder that there is more to life than just our happiness - a lesson we could all stand to learn.
So, the next time you're faced with a difficult decision, I hope you'll think of Aslan and his selfless act of sacrifice. I hope you'll be inspired to put others before yourself and to do what is right - even if it isn't easy. While it's fun to read about imaginary places and mystical creatures, parents should always keep in mind that the real point of these books is what Jesus Christ did on our behalf.