While C. S. Lewis didn’t regard his books as allegories (as Bunyan did with Pilgrims Progress), but there are enough parallels in them between the gospel and some of the events for them to be useful to parents to teach the gospel to their children. The vividness of the books (to say nothing of the movie) can be used to bring the gospel to life for your children.
As you know, the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book chronologically in the Chronicles of Narnia (although it was the first book published). It traces the discovery of the magical world of Narnia by the Pevensies not long after the beginning of World War two. The youngest, Lucy discovers a magical Wardrobe and hides in it during a game. She discovers that it is actually a gateway to another world. Eventually her brothers and sister also enter the “country in the wardrobe”[i] and discover that Narnia has been expecting them for many long years and that are destined to rule Narnia as kings and queens.
Aslan is a slightly mystical figure, the mention of whose name is enough to feel “something jump inside”, “as if it had some enormous meaning.”[ii] The Beavers describe him as the King of Narnia, “the Lord of the whole wood”[iii] and set out to take the Pevensies to him.
However, Edmund, thinking the witch will help him get the better of his older brother sneaks away and unwittingly betrays their location and presence in Narnia to a witch who has been cruelly ruling Narnia and who knows the prophesy and seeks to kill the Pevensies to prevent the fulfillment of the prophesy.
Edmunds treachery comes at great cost. There is a “deep magic” that requires every traitor’s blood to belong to the witch, conferring her with a right to kill any traitor[iv]. However, after a conference with Aslan she renounces her rights to the boy based on a promise that Aslan will substitute himself for Edmund. However, after the witch kills Aslan in Edmunds place, he returns to life at dawn.
Aslan’s substitution at the stone table is where the gospel is most clearly seen, and it is analogous to the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. As Christ was innocent (1 Pet 2:21), but his blood was shed, so too Aslan committed no crime. As Christ could have prevented his death (Matt 26:35), but laid it down willingly, so too Aslan willingly laid down his life[v]. As Christ said nothing to clear himself or in retaliation (1 Pet 2:22), but was like a lamb led to the slaughter (Isa. 53:7), so too Aslan said nothing. As Christ was a substitute for sinners (Isa 53:5), so too Alsan was a substitute for someone who had done wrong. As Christ could not be kept from death but rose from the grave (Acts 2:24), so too did Aslan rise after death.
There are other parallels between Christ and Aslan. Both were anticipated through prophecy[vi] to end a specified period in the history of their worlds. As Christ comes as a messiah figure to save mankind, so too Aslan comes to bring “spring again”[vii] which coincides with the end of “the evil time.”[viii] Both existed before time and the world was created[ix] and while both are good, neither are strictly “safe.” Further, Aslan is the son of the great Emperor-beyond-the-Sea[x] (clearly implying a greater person who rules supremely), while Christ is the son of God.
After returning to life, Aslan leads an army against the evil queen and kills her, finally vanquishing evil from the land. The book closes with the children being enthroned at Cair Paravel where they ruled for many years before stumbling back through the wardrobe into their own world just moments after going into the Wardrobe.
Lewis didn’t like to call his books allegorical, but he certainly used fiction to point to the truth of Christianity, sometimes quite vividly. As parents, take the opportunity to read the book to your children and use the parallels to explain the gospel clearly to them. Not only will they hear and understand the gospel, you’ll have a great family experience too!