Lately, my kids have been obsessed with The Lion King. What can I say? It was one of my favorite movies as a kid and I couldn’t wait to show it to them. So now, I get to see them dance around and sing with, “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” and it make me so happy. It’s such a fun song that is made even better coming from the lips of your kids!
So, it’s given me the opportunity to really explore the film, but this time as an adult. And I have to admit, it’s a great film, even now.
But now, as an adult, it strikes me how truly evil Scar is.
Of course, as a kid, I knew that he was a bad guy. That was evident! But OH MAN. He is evil incarnate.
Just take a look at his song, “Be Prepared.”
It starts off in the Elephant Graveyard, which is a fairly creepy place to begin with. That is where Simba and Nala were almost killed by hyenas, after all! There in the song, Scar explains his plan to the hyenas, who initially seem to be confused as to the plausibility of Scar’s plan, as well as doubtful that he can actually pull it off.
But then, Scar promises them food. In fact, he tells them directly, “Stick with me, and you’ll never go hungry again!”
They reply: “Yay! All right! Long live the king!”
And, as soon as they agree with him, expressing their desire for meat, the scenery of the Elephant graveyard changes rapidly. Legions of hyenas appear and march in syncopation with Scar position high above as their leader in a way that is evocative of Hitler and his Third Reich.
This is already creepy enough. But then it gets even worse.
As the hyenas cheer and march excitedly, Scar says to them, “The point that I must emphasize is: you won’t get a sniff without me!”
The ground cracks, the lighting changes rapidly from the yellow light to a deep bloody red. Flames shoot out in what can only be described as hellish imagery.
There, as Scar sings about them killing off the king, the hyenas are oblivious to the hell around them, singing happily in the background, “We’ll have food! Lots of food! We repeat: endless meat.”
They are so excited for food that they will descend into hell to quench their desire.
So, of course, this got me thinking about Jesus.
In particular, it got me thinking about this scene:
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. 3The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” 4 He said in reply, “It is written:‘One does not live by bread alone,but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’”5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written:‘He will command his angels concerning you’and ‘with their hands they will support you,lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”7Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.’” 8Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” 10At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written:‘The Lord, your God, shall you worshipand him alone shall you serve.’”11Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him.
And the first temptation? Satan tempts Jesus with bread, telling Him that, if Jesus wanted to, He could easily turn the stones into bread.
Here is a depiction of that moment!
The hyenas fell for the first temptation, allowing themselves to be bribed by the evil Scar, and, because of this, helped contribute to great evil through their insatiable desire for food.
As for Jesus? He did not fall for such evil, even when tempted by Satan.
I should perhaps note, just in case it is not clear: bread is not a bad thing. Hardly! Eating is not a bad thing either! In fact, it’s a good thing! Even in the gospel account, Jesus is later ministered to by angels, who presumably fed Him.
But, let’s get real: we can be manipulated into doing some terrible stuff if our stomachs were in charge.
So, of course, this got me about thinking of Lent.
One of the most common questions that we get is: why do we bother with fasting?
Why do we make a particular point of sacrificing something for Lent?
After all, sacrificing is uncomfortable. Fasting makes us uncomfortable. It’s not fun. Frequently when we do fast, we find ourselves struggling to fight from our own sinful desires when, if we were more well-fed and satiated, we might not be so tempted by these sinful desires so much.
So, why do we fast? Why do we sacrifice?
Because we need to follow our Lord and Savior.
We need to get used to denying ourselves in these little ways so that when a real temptation comes for us to sin greatly — and it will, if it hasn’t already! — we can muster the courage and strength to stand up for the Truth.
For being able to deny ourselves is not something that comes easy or naturally to us!
And we need all the practice we can get.