Bible Influences in Disney’s The Lion King

Many of us have always thought of The Lion King as a heartwarming Disney movie about a young lion (Simba) growing up and learning to take on his leadership role as King. It is a movie that teaches children many lessons about life’s hardships, friendships, and of course, and the coming of age. However, if you take a step outside of looking at The Lion King as ‘just another Disney movie,’ you may start to notice some very prominent bible influences.

The Circle of Life 

The beginning of the movie is marked by the iconic Circle of Life scene, where we see the entire animal kingdom come together. Celebrating the birth of their new future King, Simba. Rafiki raises Simba high on the cliff for the whole kingdom to witness, as everyone bears witness and praises the birth of new life, a gift God allows each day.

Additionally, if we were to consider the roles of Mufasa, Simba’s Father and King of the Animal Kingdom, and his newborn son, we can see some correlation between the two and Jesus and God. As Rafiki raises Simba to the kingdom, it’s very reminiscent of Jesus, the son of God being born. The scene is also reminiscent of the light that God shined upon Jesus after he was baptized. Simba goes on to learn essential life lessons from Mufasa, much like God bestowed to Jesus, knowing that one day, he would become “King” or “Leader” of the people.

Simba as Eve 

While there is a pretty solid argument for Simba signifying Jesus, he may also be considered Eve (The Garden of Eden). Simba’s Father Mufasa warned him of the shadowy places across the savannah. He tells him to beware and leave the areas untouched by light alone. Unfortunately, Simba is tempted, just as Eve was of the forbidden fruit. Scar speaks to him, further tempting him towards the darkness, the ‘forbidden fruit,’ and Simba enters the Elephant Graveyard. It is widely because of this defiance of his Father’s word that Mufasa later ends up dying.

Scar as Cain

Scar, Mufasa’s brother is clearly, and without question, the villain of the film. Whenever we see him, he is plotting against his brother Mufasa, jealous of his role as King. Scar feels as though he has always lived in the shadow of his brother, longing for his time in the sun, his time to feel glory, his time as King. Scar plots to kill his brother, and succeeds, much like Cain, who plotted against and murdered his brother Abel.

Scar as Satan

Scar, being the big bad of the story, is also representative of the devil himself, Satan. In a land of good, Scar represents all that is bad. He would go to any lengths to achieve his goals, even if that means killing his brother and leaving his nephew an orphan. Just like Satan, Scar wants everyone in the kingdom to follow him as their ruler, rather than Mufasa, who is representative of the Good, and for this argument’s sake, representative of God.

Jesus was tasked with overcoming Satan. Simba comes back to the kingdom that was taken from him and did just this. He defeats Scar, regains his kingdom, and declares peace. This is very much the same as Jesus’s story, as he was trying to achieve the same goals for his Father’s kingdom and it is believed he too will come back to save the ones who believe in him.

Unconditional Love and Forgiveness

If there is anything that we teach about God, it is His unconditional love for his subjects and his willingness to forgive one’s transgressions. The Lion King also works for teaching children these lessons. At the beginning of the film, Mufasa tells Simba not to go into the shadows. Simba disobeys him and journeys to the Elephant Graveyard. When Mufasa finds out, he uses this moment to teach Simba about bravery and explains that courage is not the same as looking for trouble. He then goes on to forgive Simba for his disobedience, ensuring his son that he loves him unconditionally. God forgives us, so we should always remember to show the same to others.  

God is Always With Us

One of the most touching moments of the film following adult Simba is where he questions himself and his ability to live up to the legacy of his Father. Rafiki directs Simba to look into the water below. He does, and after he sees nothing other than his reflection, Rafiki says, “Look harder. You see, he lives in you”. Upon looking down into the water once more, we see the reflection of Simba shift into that of his Father, Mufasa. Under the assumption that Mufasa symbolizes God and Simba, Jesus, this tells us that God is always living within us. We are never truly alone, and we have the ability to do His good work each and every day.

Though on the surface, The Lion King may just be a children’s movie that generations have come to love; it is so much more than just a movie. It is the familiar story of good overcoming evil, a story of coming of age, a story of finding love, kindness and forgiveness, a story of friendship, and faith. Through the perfect crafting of each of these characters, we are able to learn many of the lessons taught through Christianity. Is this just a coincidence? We certainly think not.  

So why are there so many parallels between this children’s movie and the Bible?

Many children are taught about religion beginning in their younger years. Having media that can relate the teachings of their religion to their entertainment (allowing for real applications of their teachings) motivates them to really absorb and use the lessons they are being taught. Being able to associate Bible themes with characters, children love to help inspire them to continue implementing these themes and behaviors throughout their own daily lives.

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