The Ultimate Guide to Christmas Specials

Christmas TV specials, limited series and movies are bigger than ever these days from now until the New Year, you’ll be able to find some festive yule-tide programming every night of the week. From the traditional viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, the different versions of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to baking shows and live music specials, we’ve got them all listed on the new Christmas TV Specials page. (Since not all of the networks list their specials early, this list will be updated throughout the coming weeks, so check back often for new additions!)

The Gospel According to 'The Lion King'

The gospel according to "The Lion King."


Since this week, Disney is releasing The Lion King as part of the "Walt Disney Signature Collection," I thought I would repost my original commentary on the biblical truths (intentional or unintentional) that can be found in the story. 

Some will argue that the film embraces reincarnation or New Age thinking and that can be valid as well if you choose to look at it that way. The Lion King also had its share of controversies over the years including a cut of the original VHS and LaserDisc release of the film. In it, it appears as if the word “SEX” might have been embedded into the dust flying in the sky when Simba flops down. This made headlines as some activists alleged that the this was a subliminal message intended to promote sexual promiscuity. Disney animators stated that the letters spell “SFX” a common abbreviation for “special effects.” At any rate, read into to movie what you will, but the following are some similarities found in the Bible:

The Birth of Christ

The opening sequence of the film is a beautiful scene that still brings tears to my eyes. To me, it resembles a re-telling of the nativity story. The music, (written by Elton John and musical score by Hans Zimmer), starts out calm as the images show the early morning in Africa with animals awakened to the news that a new lion prince has been born. All animals great and small make their way to Pride Rock for a ceremony. Mufasa, the reigning king, is standing there alongside his mate Sarabi, the Joseph and Mary of the story. The mammals on land represent the shepherds, the birds or the air represent angels. Rafiki, the wise baboon, represents the wise men. Rafiki blesses the cub and lifts Simba up for all to see and worship. The music swells. The crowd bows down in obedience and honor. Black out. That sequence alone is worth the price of admission.

God and Man

The relationship between Mufasa and his son Simba can be seen as a representation of our relationship with God. In this sense, we are Simba and Mufasa is God. Like Simba, we tend to follow the rules of our father one minute, and then go down the Elephant Graveyard on our own the next. We know that we are born of royalty but struggle with the boundaries that keep us in line. Whenever Simba wanders off the “straight and narrow path,” his father finds him and leads him back home. 

Later in the film, Simba find himself in the middle of a stampeded of wildebeest. Just like Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our sins, Mufasa risks his own life to save his son. Even later, an older Simba feels that he is all alone, but the voice of Musfasa again speaks to him through the stars above. He tells Simba to look at his reflection in the water. As he does so, he realizes, for the first time, that he looks like his father just as Bible tells us that we too were made in the image of God. Simba is also assured by Mufasa, that even though he cannot see him, he is still with his son. We are never alone and God speaks to us with a still small voice.


Scar, Mufasa’s jealous brother, is much like Lucifer, the former archangel in the bible before being tossed into hell. Scar hates Mufasa and his “little brat.” Like Satan, Scar befriends the friendless and speaks lies to them. He makes promises he has no intention of keeping. His is evil through and through. Shenzi, Banzai, Ed and the other hyenas represent Satan’s demons who do much of his dirty work.

In the scene where Mufasa risks his life to save Simba, it is revealed that Scar is responsible for Mufasa’s death, much like Satan is said to have rejoiced when Jesus died on the cross. Mufasa also convinces Simba that it is the cub’s fault that his father is dead and that he should run away. But at the end of the movie, Mufasa is attacked by his own henchmen and is thrown into his own hell.

The Good Samaritans
Convinced that he caused Mufas’s death, Simba takes flight and meets Timon, a meerkat, and Pumba, a warthog. Seeing that Simba is still a small cub and not able to take care of himself, the two embrace their enemy and take care of his needs, much like the Good Samaritan story in the Bible. Unfortunately, the well-meaning fiends teach Simba the phrase, "Hakuna Matata" which is interpreted as "no worries” and is stretched to mean “no responsibilities.” When Simba’s childhood friend, Nala, finds him and tells him how the Pride Lands are falling apart under Scar’s leadership, Simba chooses to follow the new mantra and not get involved.

The Apostle

Rafiki can also be seen as the apostle Paul, who warns the Christian churches where they were going wrong in their ministries and allowing sin in their congregations. Rafiki, like iron sharpening iron, reminds Simba whose child he is and what his true responsibilities are. Between the words of Nala, Rafiki and Mufasa himself, Simba realizes his true calling and comes back to the Pride Lands to assume responsibility for his father’s tribe, much like we are called to do.

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