I recently reread C.S. Lewis’s The Horse and His Boy, recording myself reading it for my niece. I’ve always found The Horse and His Boy the most awkward book in the Chronicles of Narnia, because it’s the only one of the seven whose protagonists are not children from our world, but from Narnia’s.
Upon this rereading, I felt a greater appreciation for what it adds to the series, in particular the understanding of Aslan, the great Lion (the Christ-type in the stories).
One of the characters (a talking horse) speaks ignorantly of Aslan before he really knows him:
“No doubt,” continued Bree, “when they speak of him as a Lion they only mean he’s as strong as a lion or (to our enemies, of course) as fierce as a lion. Or something of that kind. Even a little girl like you, Aravis, must see that it would be quite absurd to suppose he is a real lion. Indeed, it would be disrespectful. If he was a lion he’d have to be a Beast just like the rest of us. Why!” (and here Bree began to laugh) “If he was a lion he’d have four paws, and a tail, and Whiskers!” (p. 214-215, emphasis added)
Not to ruin the book for you, but at that very moment, the speaker feels the tickle of whiskers of the great Lion and sees him at his side, revealing him to be very much a real lion in every way.
This passage speaks allegorically of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the greatest miracle of Christmas. To many, I imagine it seems quite ridiculous that Christians speak of the Son of God (complete in his divinity) being born as a human being. It wouldn’t be surprising if many imagined that we are speaking metaphorically when we speak like this. To paraphrase the passage above, “If the Son of God were a man, he’d have two hands, feet that get dirty and bowels!” Yes, as a baby, Jesus cried and had dirty diapers…he was a baby.
The incredulity of this aspect of the faith is one of the things that makes the Christian story so compelling to me.
Hasn’t there ever been a story that so captivated you that you wanted to live a part of it? That’s what the Christian narrative is for me. But the overwhelming, incredible thing is that I do get to be a part of it.
I, like the foolish prince in Lewis’s story, get a chance of mercy and grace, when I have done nothing to deserve it. Then I’m called to use the gifts I’ve been given to further the story.
I’m thankful for this reminder at Christmastime. May you too, find grace and mercy in Christ this season, maybe even for the first time.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8, ESV
Note: Please don’t be off-put by my calling the Bible a “story” or a “narrative.” I do not use these terms to imply that it is in any way fictional.