A Parable About Two Lions Who Met In a Zoo

Once upon a time a lion lived contently in a zoo. Born there, he had never known any other way of life. And it was a good life—all the red meat he could eat, regular physical exams, and fresh straw every day.

One day another lion, one captured in the wild, was brought into the habitat. Every day the jungle lion paced back and forth looking for a way to escape, growing more restless each passing day.

The zoo lion, unable to understand why the wild lion was so upset, asked, "Why so blue? Everything we need for a happy life we have right here. What else could you possibly want? Why do you want to escape from paradise?"

The wild lion couldn’t believe his ears. How could he possibly explain freedom to a zoo lion who had never seen a jungle—a lion who thought he already had everything he could want—that there’s more to life than living like a caged animal? 

In the months that followed, the jungle lion opened the zoo lion’s eyes with stories about life in the wild. The more he heard about the jungle, the more he wanted to know. He pestered the jungle lion with questions like, “How big is it? Where is it? How do you get there from here?” and a hundred more just like those. 

The jungle lion was sometimes eager, and always patient, to explain the glories of the jungle. Soon the zoo lion, too, became restless. 

The Moral of the Story

Something about this world just isn’t right. Sometimes it feels like we're trapped in a cage. We all sense it, don’t we? And it makes us restless.

But here’s the thing. If this world is all you’ve ever known, you can think you have it good but only because, like the zoo lion, you don’t know what you’re missing. For many, the tragedy is not what we have become, but what we could have been.

That’s why Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” 

We were made for more. No one ever said it better than Augustine: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in You.”

Are you still restless, or do you know someone who is?

To all who are restless, to all who are weighed down by the cares of this world—whether it’s fear, worry, loneliness, emptiness, envy, rage, arrogance, greed, guilt, feeling inadequate, or whatever—Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Do you remember what it was like when all you knew was the zoo?

Jesus is the wild lion of Judah who, today, would have you and me, his disciples, explain our escape to freedom to every captive, restless soul.

Until every church disciples every man…

Pat