Take four children, a mysterious land, an evil witch, and a good lion, and you have the ingredients for a great story. From the first moment when Lucy burrows her way through the fur coats to find herself in a wintery Narnia, we are hooked.
What is a strange creature—half man, half animal—doing carrying packages and an umbrella? Lucy is the kind of person who helps the fawn and believes the best about him as she accompanies him home for tea. She continues to do the right thing when she finds out he’s really a spy for the wicked witch. Lucy is the kind of person we like and want to protect. What a relief it is when Mr. Tumnus sneaks her back to the lamppost and home.
But then there is Edmund. He reacts very differently when he finds himself in Narnia. He meets the White Witch as she rides by on her sleigh, but instead of running the other way, he’s tempted to betray his brother and sister—all for some Turkish delight. Now Turkish delight is delicious, but it would hardly tempt any of us to be bad. Or would it? Aren’t there times when we’re like Edmund, wanting something so much that we decide that we’re going to get it at any cost?
When the four children—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—finally end up in Narnia together, the real adventure begins. They soon discover that Narnia is an unhappy place, where it is always winter—or has been for a very long time. So instead of a warm, happy world full of colorful flowers and cheerful songbirds, they find a frozen, white land where the animals huddle in their homes, afraid of the evil witch. There is no joy or hope—no Christmas with presents or a holiday feast to look forward to.
Narnia, in the grip of winter and the White Witch, reminds us of times when our lives are not happy—times when things have gone wrong around us or because of what we have done to others. We can feel like Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, huddling in their dam, surrounded by frozen water and unable to live as beavers usually do—or like Mr. Tumnus, who feels guilty because he has promised to work for the witch when he knows it is wrong.
But then the children hear a name that starts to give everyone hope. “Aslan!” Even before the children know who Aslan is, they know he is important. Something inside them jumps: Peter suddenly feels brave, Susan smiles as if hearing lovely music, Lucy is joyful, and Edmund (the bad one) is afraid.
Aslan, the lion, is going to change things because he is the King of Narnia. He is not a tame lion or even a safe one, because he is very powerful and not to be controlled by others. But, as Mr. Beaver assures the children, Aslan is good—just like God is good. God is the most powerful one in the entire universe. No one tells him what to do. But since God is good, he always uses his power for good and does everything the right way. In fact, like Aslan, he has long determined to make all things right again by sending his own Son, Jesus, to earth.
Mr. Beaver recites a famous rhyme in Narnia to explain to the children what Aslan will do.
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes into sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.
And sure enough, even before the children meet Aslan, they can already see that “Aslan is on the move.” Small things and big things catch their eyes and ears. The snow begins to melt, birds begin to sing, and they meet Father Christmas, who brings them gifts that turn out to be very useful.
But we mustn’t forget about Edmund. Where is he when these small miracles are happening? He has gone to the White Witch, I’m afraid, looking for more Turkish delight. Edmund still hasn’t figured out that the witch is using his love of candy to control what he thinks and does. Or at least he doesn’t figure that out until he gets to her palace, where he finds that she is angry with him and only gives him stale bread and water. Now, instead of feeling like an important friend of a powerful witch, he realizes he’s not much better than a slave. Edmund is very unhappy and sorry.
When Peter, Susan, and Lucy finally arrive at the stone table to meet Aslan, they plead for Edmund to be spared in the upcoming battle. Aslan assures them that it can be done, but it won’t be easy. And sure enough, things don’t go at all as anyone suspects. Even after Edmund is rescued from the witch’s grip and says he is sorry for his betrayal, the witch still thinks she has won. Edmund must die because of the Deep Magic.
The Deep Magic refers to the laws that govern Narnia—the laws that can’t be changed and must always be paid for if they are broken. What law has Edmund broken? He is a traitor, someone who has betrayed those he should protect, and for that he deserves death. Being sorry for what he has done isn’t enough. That doesn’t satisfy the broken law.
That’s like us, when we break the laws of God: obey your parents, don’t steal, don’t lie, love God and your neighbor. When we break these laws, we can’t mend them. We can say we’re sorry and really mean it, but that doesn’t change the fact that the law has been broken. We still deserve to be punished.
Wonderfully, Aslan knew about something the witch did not: the Deeper Magic. The Deeper Magic is how the broken law is mended without Edmund having to die. The Deeper Magic works when Aslan, who hasn’t broken any laws, allows the witch to kill him instead of Edmund. Aslan takes Edmund’s place. And it isn’t easy.
The witch is ugly in her triumphant glee, and her followers treat Aslan terribly as they tie him up and drag him to the stone table. Poor Susan and Lucy cry bitterly as they watch the magnificent lion beaten and bullied. When the witch raises the knife to kill Aslan, she laughs and says,
And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor?... Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. With this knowledge, despair and die.
And so the witch kills Aslan and thinks she has won. But she is wrong—just like all those years ago, when Jesus was arrested, tried, and executed. The leaders then thought they had gotten rid of an annoying man who was telling everyone who would listen that they had broken God’s laws and needed to stop. The leaders thought they had won by killing him, but Jesus wasn’t an ordinary man. He was God’s Son, and he had come to earth to take our punishment by dying for us. We all deserve death because we have broken God’s commands, and even being sorry for that doesn’t mend the broken commandments. Only death does that. But Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to be beaten and bullied and finally killed, so we would not have to be punished.
But that isn’t the end of the story. Aslan, because of the Deeper Magic, comes back to life! The stone table is broken, showing that since the King of Narnia himself has used the Deeper Magic, there need never be another sacrifice like his again. And the same is true about Jesus, the Son of God. He roared back to life as the victorious King. His sacrifice for sin is finished for all time. Best of all, everyone who believes in him will find true forgiveness and will live with him forever. Isn’t that the greatest news?!
After Aslan returns to life, Peter and Edmund lead the animals to victory in a battle against the witch and her forces. At the end, the four children are crowned and sit on the thrones of Cair Paravel to rule Narnia as Aslan’s representatives. And that is what all those who trust in Jesus have to look forward to when he makes all things right in a new heaven and a new earth. Meanwhile, while we still live here, we can have peace with God and rely on him to help us in times of need.
 C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (London: Fontana Lions, 1980), 75.
 Ibid., 140.
The author is a member of Cornerstone OPC in Ambler, Pa., and an author of children’s books. New Horizons, Dec. 2012.