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The Magician's Nephew: Aslan Understands.

Updated: Sep 3, 2022


Illustrated by Pauline Baynes


I started reading through The Chronicles of Narnia, starting with The Magician's Nephew, for the first time in March of 2020. When I finished The Last Battle in April of 2020, my heart and mind realized I just finished something with great depth. I just read through the whole series again for the third time and several things jumped out at me.


This first blog post will be the start of a series of insights and thoughts that C. S. Lewis struck in me as I read through The Chronicles of Narnia.


The Magician's Nephew is my favorite of the series. It is filled with so many nuggets and richness. During this series, I will be focusing more on Aslan, who is a representation of Jesus the Christ as spoken about in The Holy Bible.


What stood out to me in this book besides the echoes of the creation story, the fall, man working with God to bring about restoration, is the fact that Aslan understands grief.


In chapter 11 we read this dialogue:

"'Son of Adam,' said Aslan. 'Are you ready to undo the wrong that you have done to my sweet country of Narnia on the very day of its birth?'

'Well, I don’t see what I can do,' said Digory. 'You see, the Queen ran away and—'

'I asked, are you ready,” said the Lion.


'Yes,' said Digory. He had had for a second some wild idea of saying 'I’ll try to help you if you’ll promise to help about my Mother,” but he realized in time that the Lion was not at all the sort of person one could try to make bargains with. But when he had said 'Yes,' he thought of his mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out:


'But please, please—won’t you—can’t you give me something that will cure Mother?' Up till then he had been looking at the Lion’s great front feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.


'My son, my son,' said Aslan. 'I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.'"


I read this and my heart was greatly moved. Digory has a mother that is dying of an illness and the imagery painted for us in the last few sentences above is so rich and vivid. Here it is again with parts bolded italicized to emphasize what stood out to me:


"What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion’s eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory’s own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself.


'My son, my son,' said Aslan. 'I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another.'"


Do you see the "great shining tears [that] stood in the Lion's eyes?" I see them.


Do you see the "big, bright tears?" I can.


Could you feel what Digory felt? That "the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself." I do.


Jesus the Christ can say the same as Aslan, "'My son, my son,' said Aslan. 'I know. Grief is great.'"


This dialogue with Digory and Aslan that involves tears reminds me of these two words found in verse 35 of the 11th chapter in the Gospel of John:


"Jesus wept."


One more time.


"Jesus wept."


Yeah, that’s the Messiah with tears.


The God-Man who sees us in our different situations can empathize. Jesus has "great shining tears" and they are "big" and "bright" when compared to ours because the brokenness of this world breaks the heart of God more than it breaks ours. Jesus is really more "sorrier" because He cares, He loves, and He deeply knows more than we can about this broken world and our broken situations.

Christian, do you hear the God of the universe saying to you:

"'My son, my son..."

'I know. Grief is great.'"


Aslan understands grief.

Jesus the Christ understands grief.


That makes all the difference for me because it means I serve a God who does truly understand. He understands because He had put on flesh that He created and walked among humanity as one of us, experiencing what we do today: the brokenness of our world because of sin.


"'Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.' Hebrews 4:14-16


Oh, Jesus understands!


Listen to the words of this powerful song, "It Matters to the Master," penned by Rachel Mccutcheon and sung by The Collingsworth Family:


"When life lets you down, and you feel more broken than whole When the wounds go deeper than words and you can't tell a soul I may not know what you're going through May not can make that high mountain move But one thing I've found that I really want you to know


If it matters to you, it matters to the master He wants to share the burdens you bear Whisper peace when your world gets shattered If it's your greatest joy or your deepest pain Or you're really needing an answer If it matters to you, it matters to the master


Friend, do you think the maker and giver of life Is far too busy to care 'bout your trouble and strife? He sees the sparrow that falls to the ground And he hears the tears that don't make a sound If you only knew how precious you are in his sight


If it matters to you, it matters to the master He wants to share the burdens you bear Whisper peace when your world gets shattered If it's your greatest joy or your deepest pain Or you're really needing an answer If it matters to you, it matters to the master


If it's your greatest joy or your deepest pain Or you're really needing an answer If it matters to you, it doesn't only matter to you If it matters to you, it matters to the master."



C. S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew is a great narrative that helps me see more clearly that if it matters to me, it matters to Jesus.





Sources:


Lewis, C. S. (Clive Staples), 1898-1963. The Magician's Nephew. New York :HarperCollins, 1994.


All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

















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