Prince Caspian: Peter Pevensie's Sacrifice
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At the conclusion of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, have conquered the White Witch. For their efforts they become kings and queens of Narnia. But for Peter there is extra incentive. He has been crowned High King. There is no greater honor. The kingdom of Narnia is his.
Yet we find a very different Peter Pevensie at the beginning of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, a new movie from Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. Following a reign of 15 years, the Pevensie children are hurtled back into a world they know all too well – World War II England.
While the other three children certainly struggle to re-acclimate themselves into society, the transition is the hardest on Peter. He finds himself in one predicament after another culminating with a fight in a subway station that he loses. He is far cry from the bold and noble king who Narnians adored.
“(Peter) has to go back to school for a year,” explains Prince Caspian screenwriter Stephen McFeeley. “Whereas you were signing treaties, defeating giants, and bringing people together, now you are doing homework and not going to the prom.”
Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar situation. You are the very best at what you do. People look to you for leadership, wisdom, and a sense of confidence that goes beyond any other. But everything changes in an instant. Perhaps you lose your job, you are demoted, or people just lose faith in you. This is an incredibly difficult position to be in. Yet through it all you are left with a simple choice. You can wallow in your misfortune or you can make the best of your circumstances. If you choose the latter option a time of great growth and learning is likely to ensue.
Upon his return to Narnia 1,300 years later, Peter finds everything is different yet in many ways it is the same. He is still revered as a king by Narnians but discovers the land he once ruled belongs to someone else. Further complicating matters, the person who can help Peter restore the land to his people is also the one who will succeed him – Prince Caspian.
“I think that at the end of the day leadership is about serving other people,” says William Moseley, who plays Peter in Prince Caspian. “It is about a place or a country and not serving yourself. Peter had to learn that very valuable lesson and reinstate his trust in Aslan. Peter obviously needs to pass the torch on to Prince Caspian and has to pass the torch on very honorably and nobly.”
When we are faced with humbling experiences it is often easy to turn away from God and try to govern our lives independently of our faith. This was very true in Peter Pevensie’s case. Instead of relying completely on Aslan to guide his steps, Peter uses poor judgment by trying to lead the Narnians by his own might.
As Christians, we sometimes approach decision making in similar fashion. According to author Gene Veith, the world around us either consumes us or loses all meaning for us. We begin to seek meaning from our own inner feelings. Our own self-interests rule the day. The end result is that we might consult God at some level but when it comes to the big decisions, we often act out of our own selfish impulses without taking God into account.
Such is the fate of Peter in Prince Caspian. His decisions are bold, concise, even daring but are not rooted in his faith. People respond to him affirmatively but he can tell there isn’t a high degree of respect for him. Something is lacking.
“Peter just decided that he would do things without Aslan,” says Moseley. “He thought that he could take it on. But Aslan sort of took his fight from him. He took on the White Witch but Aslan came in and saved the day.”
Peter leads his people into a climactic battle against the Telmarines in a conquest that will determine the fate of Narnia. It will either continue to be ruled by Prince Caspian’s evil uncle King Miraz or fall back into the rightful hands of the creatures of Narnia. Even though Peter turns his back on Aslan, the mighty lion intercedes and protects his people from annihilation. Narnia is victorious. Peter should be ecstatic but he isn’t. He realizes that something far greater than him has insured victory. It is the protective and watchful eye of Aslan.
Rather than take credit, Peter humbles himself before Aslan and the people of Narnia by making a great sacrifice. He relinquishes his position as High King to Prince Caspian. Doing so will require his departure from the land he loves. But he knows it is the right thing to do. He has regained his faith.
“I think the scene where Peter hands over his sword to Prince Caspian is probably the biggest sign of change we see,” says Andrew Adamson, Prince Caspian’s director. “He lived 15 years as the High King, conquering the giants, all those kinds of things. Now he has to pass that on and accept that he is going back to being a school boy. That is a pretty hard change.”
“Peter has been one thing, it has been taken away from him, and now he is trying to figure out who he is and how does he prove it,” adds Prince Caspian screenwriter Chris Markus. “That rates as a huge failure on his part. But he is sort of stiffly heroic in that he is the leader and he wins (with Aslan’s help).”
In I Kings 2:3, it is written, “And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn …”
As Peter Pevensie realized in his relationship with Aslan, obeying God is more than a choice of convenience, it is a command. As God’s children, we are to listen to Him, following and obeying all that He teaches us so we may not grieve His spirit. Jesus Christ obeyed His father giving to us the supreme example of obedience. He obeyed to the point of death.*
The obedient spirit reaches its highest point when it desires to obey in thought and attitude – not through mere lip service.
God promises us success in all that we do, wherever we turn, in good times or bad. All we need to do is follow His commandments and delight to do His will.*
Are you a Peter Pevensie? If you are, consider the words of Aslan: “You learn all you can and your trust is 100 percent in me.”
* Portions contained within this article from the Transformer Study Bible.
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