The Depth of Gandalf’s Sacrifice


*Lord of the Rings Spoiler Alert- if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, know there are spoilers below.*

I’m going geeky on you guys today. Lord of The Rings style, focusing on perhaps the most memorable scene from “The Fellowship Of The Ring”. Gandalf is one of my favorite characters in the books for various reasons, but perhaps the most so because of his sacrifice found in “The Fellowship of The Ring” Below, is the excerpt the Film.

A lot is going on in this short few minutes of the film, and much is missed by a lot of friends that I talk to about this scene. Tolkien, if you know the mythology he created for this world, intended so much more to be taken from this. Gandalf is not a wizard in the sense as we perceive it, but rather a supernatural being- more appropriately compared to an angel. He, one of the five “wizards” were sent to protect middle earth from the servants of Morgoth. Morgoth is the supreme evil in middle earth who rebelled against the law Eru (The One, The Father of All) created. The Balrog were fallen beings that were of the same origin of the wizards. However, they were twisted and corrupted into foul creatures of darkness and shadow by Morgoth to wreck havoc upon middle earth.

Now that you’ve gotten your dose of LOTR geekery… ;) Watching the scene again shows it in a whole new light, doesn’t it?Early on, Gandalf doesn’t want to go to Moria. Why? Because he knows what lives there, and apparently, has been avoiding it- his duty, for some time which he gather from Saruman. But he does, he confronts the creature, and sends it plummeting to the abyss. Then he is pulled off the ledge, gets a solid handhold, and hangs for a second. This is the point where I really first understood what Gandalf was doing in regards to his loyalty to his friends, and his duty to Eru. He could either climb back up and aid his friends in their quest, or let himself fall to confront his unpleasant and deadly task.

He chooses to trust, and fall.

To me, the choice to let go of the ledge, fall and confront death and fear so confidently shows the power of pursing the purpose one has in this world. In Gandalf’s mind, he not only sacrificed himself, but he had to trust he wasn’t sacrificing his friends for what he was supposed to do. And then, after he does what he has been commanded, he dies. No almost death, no super suffering injury recovery… He dies.

What happens next though, is nothing short of glorious. Eru sends him back to the friends he knows, “at the turn of the tide.” As the white, Gandalf knows full well what the end will be of this battle, and that gives him a presence which is powerful and rallying. But having died, he also knows what is on the other side, and how to be a comforter to those who need it. The fight with the Balrog was not necessary so that an evil being could be removed form the world, but so that Gandalf could deny himself fully, and therefore be redeemed in a way which yields a fruit so beautiful, it makes death seem like something… Not so bad, after all.


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