Harry Potter is struck down by his archenemy, visits the in-between, and makes the choice to return and finish what needs to be done – that is, conquer evil in the form of Lord Voldemort, thus saving not only the wizarding world, but the world entire.
Death, for Harry, meant life.
Gandalf the Grey is taken down into darkness by the Balrog, only to later return a much greater and stronger wizard: Gandalf the White.
Death of the Grey meant birth of the White.
Persephone is taken by the god of death, Hades, every autumn and made to live with him in his kingdom of darkness beneath the earth. Yet each year she returns to the world above, bringing spring and new life in her wake.
Death, for Persephone, meant the promise of life.
The mythical creature, the phoenix, is famous for its ability to rise from the ashes of its own fiery death.
Death means life.
Neo moves between the Matrix and the real world, doing and understanding things no one else can. He is The One. After death has claimed him, Trinity kisses him, commands him to get up. And he does.
So his death meant life.
Aslan the Lion dies to save one boy, Edmund, whose life was forfeit because of the wrong he had done. In saving this one child, Aslan saves all of Narnia from the clutches of the White Witch. But it wasn’t his dying that saved Narnia – it was his use of the Deeper Magic to turn death backwards, and rise again.
Thus, death means life.
There isn’t one of these stories or characters that fails to affect me deeply. Their stories are ones I love to read and watch and ponder time and again. In fact, a few of them hold places in my heart as the best stories I’ve ever read.
The best, save one.
For there could be no life after death without Jesus, could there? There could not even be the thought of it – the very idea of it – without Jesus. We humans could not even begin to imagine such a vast concept.
Stories are about hope, more times than not. We love them because they give us a promise that our lives, no matter how dark, can one day stumble into the light.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
A phoenix rising can give us the confidence of new beginnings. The Matrix can remind us there is a truer world than the one we live in – one that eyes cannot see. Aslan goes a step further still, and gives us a direct idea of what Jesus did for us. For you are the Edmund Aslan died for. I am the Edmund he died for.
Yet still, nothing compares to the true story, the one that happened in our very own world more than 2,000 years ago.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
Had you guessed that you are living out a fairy tale? Can you fathom that your life has the capability of being more thrilling than any fantasy? Did you know the hope you have is greater than anything found in a novel?
Because this is the True Fairy Tale. The one that started the rest. The one that turned death backwards and conquered the darkness.
I’m thankful for books – so thankful for them. And the Bible is closer to my heart than any other. But these other stories are God’s work as well – the stories that bring us back to the Bible, to a better understanding of Jesus, His death, and what his resurrection means to us: life eternal.