Theology and the Lion King
Last night, Janet and I went to see the Broadway in Indianapolis production of the The Lion King. Yes, we have seen the movie but have never seen a stage production of this most famous story. Of course, whenever we see something like this, I immediately look for the biblical parallels in the storyline to see if there is any hidden message regarding Jesus, the Father and/or the Holy Spirit.
We know that certain other famous stories carry strong biblical messages – especially those written by C. S. Lewis. But Lion King was a movie that Disney produced in 1994 with music by Elton John and Time Rice – so it’s far less likely that we would find parallel messages to the Scripture. Yet, I am pleased to say that I found several various themes that can be closely tied to both the Old and New Testaments.
For example, Simba, the young son of the current lion king, leaves home to live in a foreign land until he eventually returns victorious to take his rightful place as the leader of his kingdom. This storyline is quite similar to the story of Moses after he leaves his position of power in the house of Pharaoh and heads to Midian for a period of 40 years where he has his burning bush experience. Finally, he returns to take his rightful place as head of the Israelite nation and leads his people to the Promised Land after a long journey in the desert.
Or how about the birth of Simba and how he is raised overhead by hs father, announcing his birth and destiny? This is similar to how the shepherds and wise men announced the birth of Jesus and proclaimed Him as King upon His birth.
Another comparison to a famous biblical story has to do with the parable of the Prodigal Son. Just like Simba, the prodigal son leaves home and ends up living a life that he wasn’t destined for. Eventually, having lived in a foreign land, he returns and is welcomed back to take his place with his family – just as Simba eventually assumes his role as king. Of course, this journey wasn’t easy and Simba had to search his soul to see if he really could return home, the same way the prodigal son had to search his own soul asking the same questions.
I even think that there are comparisons to Jesus in the Lion King. Jesus did the will of His Father, taking on the role of a man, giving up the prerogatives of deity to live among us until he took back his rightful place as King. Simba, in a similar move, lived in a foreign land for a time until he returned to claim his right as king – after hearing from his father, encouraging him to remember who he was. Needless to say, the animals of the kingdom needed the leadership of Simba – just as we need the leadership of Jesus in our lives.
There were other references I could make, but I hope that you get the idea. There doesn’t have to be just one theme to remind us of Jesus.
Our verse for tonight highlights one further comparison between Simba and Jesus. That is, that Jesus was referred to as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. And we know, of course, that Simba became the new Lion King. The apostle John, in his book of Revelations, tells us, in Revelation 5:5, “Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
My encouragement this evening is that there are references to Christianity in many facets of our everyday lives. My prayer is that you will look for ways to see God and His Son in the fabric of our lives on a day to day basis. After all, God is always with us and we can all use reminders of His authority and power each and every day. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…