Ever since I was little, a toddler or smaller, one of my favorite movies has always been The Lion King. It’s by far my favorite Disney movie, and even now, after all these years, it is still probably in my top ten favorite movies, for nostalgic reasons as much as anything else. And yes, I am beyond pumped that there is a remake coming out this summer. I fully plan to see it as soon as possible, so if anyone is going to need an expert’s opinion before deciding to see it, see me a couple days after it premieres. I will have seen it at least once by then.
There is a scene in the animated movie where Rafiki, the wise old monkey, is sitting in his tree waiting for something to happen. The wind brings him a message, and after looking closely, he finds that (Spoiler Alert) Simba, the rightful king of Pride Rock, is indeed alive after years of missing. As soon as he knows this, he jumps up for joy and begins laughing, screaming, and running around frantically. Since Simba has been gone, Scar, his evil uncle, has turned most of the kingdom into a wasteland and enslaved the lions and other groups. With Simba’s return from the grave, there is hope that Pride Rock will be restored and that tyranny will be ended, and so Rafiki rejoices. A few weeks ago, I was watching The Lion King again (everybody has lazy Saturdays, right?), and I re-watched this scene. Afterward, a question popped up in my head that I have been asking for weeks now.
Was Rafiki more excited about Simba’s fictional “resurrection” than I am about Jesus’ real one?
We, too, have been dominated by tyranny and evil in the past. There was a time for each of us when no hope existed. Then, we received a message: the King had returned. We rejoiced, for our hope of restoration was given to us. We rejoiced again when we received that restoration and were added to His kingdom as a new creation. Now, we are still members of that kingdom and have received the blessings of the children of God, including grace, mercy, peace, and the hope of salvation, among countless others. And yet, there doesn’t seem to be much rejoicing. No one is leaping for joy, or running around frantically telling everyone possible about our new hope. Jesus is still alive, so why aren’t we excited about it?
Maybe it’s because we have forgotten verses like Matthew 28:20, where Jesus tells us that He is with us always, “even to the end of the age.” Maybe we have forgotten Hebrews 13:8, where we are reminded that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Maybe we fail to remember the words of the psalmist in Psalm 91:2 – “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.’” Maybe, after all these years without the new deliverance of the gospel into our hearts, we have forgotten what it means to have
There is a statement made in Acts 9 following the resurrection of Dorcas. An older woman who had been kind to many in her lifetime, Dorcas had been dead and was resurrected by the apostle Peter through the power of the Lord. In Acts 9:42, following this resurrection, the writer says this: “And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.” Why? Because they rejoiced that they had their friend and sister Dorcas back, and they were in awe of the power of God. We have our Brother, Friend, Teacher, Author, Priest, Prophet, and King returned to us by the power of the Lord. That’s what it means to know that Jesus is resurrected from the dead.
When he realizes that Simba is back (and finally calms down enough to think straight), Rafiki makes a simple statement: “It is time.” It is time, too, for our King to return, to reclaim His throne, and to reign in majesty and love over His kingdom forevermore. If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what can.
“…Whom, having not seen, you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith – the salvation of your souls.” – 1 Peter 1: 8-9