story: part 2

(You can read part one about this great book here.)

skull hill
In the last 50 pages of Story, Steven James recounts the original Hans Christian Anderson version of the Little Mermaid story as a metaphor for Christ’s sacrifice. I thought it was really beautiful.

“In Han Christian Andersen’s original tale of ‘The Little Mermaid’ (not the Disney version), a beautiful young mermaid has fallen in love with a human prince. The mermaid is a glorious singer beneath the sea, but she gives up her voice to be able to become human and love the prince. The deal is, if she can woo him, then she can remain human and receive an eternal human soul. But if he marries another woman, the little mermaid will turn into sea foam, the fate of all mermaids.

“Well, despite all her devotion to him, the prince’s heart remains enamored with a different woman, a princess whom he believes rescued him from a shipwreck. However, the little mermaid was really the one who had saved him. She wants desperately  to tell him that she was his savior and that she loves him, but she has no voice above the sea, no words he can hear.

“In the end, all three are sailing back to the prince’s palace for his wedding to the other woman. The little mermaid is about to turn back into sea foam when her sisters swim to the water’s surface and offer her a knife and a choice: if she will take the prince’s life, she need not give up her own. The magic can be reversed; she can become a mermaid again only if she will kill the prince. One of them must die before daybreak.

“Everyone else is asleep on the boat. Silently, the little mermaid  approaches the prince and finds him in the arms of the other woman. As Hans Christian Andersen writes,

The knife trembled in the hand of the little mermaid: then she flung it far away from her into the waves; the water turned red where it fell, and the drops that spurted up looked like blood. She cast one more lingering, half-fainting glance at the prince, and then threw herself from the ship into the sea, and thought her body was dissolving into foam. The sun rose above the waves, and his warm rays fell on the cold foam of the little mermaid.

“The prince knew nothing of her sacrifice, nothing of her love. He didn’t know she had rescued him, given up her beautiful voice to become like him, and then exchanged her life for his. All this went on while he pursued another woman. She sacrificed all for her prince because she loved him, yet he never returned her love.

“When the gospel is told like that, I can understand it.”


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