The dominant symbol of Christ in The Lord of the Rings is Gandalf; evidence of this can be found by first looking at how Gandalf came to Middle-Earth and then considering his actions throughout the story. Gandalf was sent by the Valar from the land of Valinor to rescue the people of Middle-Earth from evil and to protect them from Sauron.
For those who have not read The Silmarillion, the Valar are basically the gods and goddesses of Middle-Earth and Valinor is the land of bliss in which they dwell. In The Silmarillion, Gandalf is introduced as a spirit named Olorin, and he only took on the flesh of men so that the people of Middle-Earth would trust him and have faith in his mission. In a similar way, Christ left heaven to come to Earth and took on bodily form to rescue humanity from sin and Satan.
When we first meet Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, we encounter an old wizened man, with a long gray beard, bushy eyebrows, a flowing cloak, and a wooden staff worn from travel. Like Jesus, everywhere Gandalf goes he seeks to help others, restore hope, and fight evil. He travels so extensively that the elves and men of Gondor call him Mithrandir which means: the gray pilgrim. Also like Jesus, Gandalf possesses several different names that each have a unique meaning: Incanus , Lathspell, Mithrandir, Olorin, Tharkun, ect.
- Gandalf Battles the Balrog
- Gandalf fights the Balrog to save his friends.
- Gandalf the White
- Gandalf the White battles the forces of Mordor to save Middle-Earth!
The symbolism of Christ becomes most evident in Gandalf’s actions as leader of the Fellowship that was appointed by the Council of Elrond in Rivendell. When things become tough on the road, Gandalf and the entire Fellowship are forced into the Mines of Moria in an attempt to pass under the Misty Mountains.
The slow journey through the mountains comes to a hand-wringing climax when the Fellowship is chased by a fiery demon of the ancient world called a Balrog. In this heart pounding moment, surrounded by fire, darkness, whizzing arrows, and terrified screams, Gandalf realizes that no one will escape the Moria alive unless he puts his life at stake for his friends. As Jesus once said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend,”John 15:13.
As the Fellowship begins to cross the treacherous Bridge of Khazad-dum, the Balrog closes in from behind, but Gandalf takes the rear guard and turns to face the monstrous beast alone. Standing on the bridge surrounded by darkness, Gandalf faces his enemy of flame and shadow, and willingly sacrifices his life to save his friends. Tears are shed by the Hobbits, hope is lost by others, and Aragorn’s heart wavers at the loss of his mentor.
But Gandalf’s story does not end here. After falling from the bridge, Gandalf chases the great demon through the deepest and darkest catacombs of the Earth, and slays the Balrog. This last exertion of power causes Gandalf to die. Without Gandalf the Fellowship feels lost, but the Valar decide that Gandalf’s mission is not complete and he rises from the dead more powerful and glorious than before.
He becomes Gandalf the White and is no longer hidden under the veil of Gandalf the Gray. He reunites with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli in Fangorn Forest, and orchestrates the forces of good to defeat Saruman and Sauron, by uniting Rohan, inspiring Gondor, and giving Frodo a chance to destroy the Ring and therefore Sauron forever. The direct symbolism in these actions, can be discerned by a fifth grader. In the person of Gandalf, Tolkien attempts to show his readers the power of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, descent into darkness, resurrection, and glorification in his new body!
~ Stephen Hanson
Stephen Hanson ofIn His Truth Ministriescame to the Lord is a special way in 1975 and has been prophesying regularly since. In these end-time birthing pangs we are to be reminded that judgment must first begin with the household of God. Will we be prepared and ready?