Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Star Wars Jesus: Love Never Fails

Caleb Grimes - Author

“You have failed, your highness. I am a Jedi Knight, like my father before me.”

There is no person alive who does not have a weakness for one part of the dark side or the other. Whether it be power politics, spiritual or supernatural power, material wealth, or any number of obsessions from the Christian churches … we all want power of some sort, and many times we fall for the easy power that does not take faith to possess.

The way love wins takes faith. Luke is victorious at the end of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. He marks a triumphant return by the Jedi Knights. He defeats Darth Vader and he throws down his lightsaber. He refuses to take what seems like success and murder Vader. Instead, Luke stubbornly refuses this minor victory in which he likely will end up as the lucrative second in command to the Emperor, which would be no victory at all. Instead he stands up tall to the Emperor, “You have failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” Just as in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke gives up his life. Why would Luke do this?

It may seem a random connection, but Luke’s action shows that he has learned a lesson that in our world is exemplified in the parable of the vine and the branches, John 15. This is where God prunes the vines, as in he shapes his creation, and this might mean ending our lives or limiting our successes in order to prune us if we do not work for his glory.

In this passage, Jesus does not necessarily seem concerned with the length or quality of our life. We, on the other hand, tend to be rather concerned about both. We read these verses and we don’t want to be pruned. Our first instinct is to preserve and prolong life, at whatever cost. Jesus is concerned with the fruit of our lives. That is, how much do we love him and each other in whatever time we do have to live. It is good to fear God and his power over us. However, in this passage, I think fearing God is not the main lesson. I think the point here is to focus on living by the Spirit, like using the Force, to be fruitful.

In this moment when Vader is beaten down and the Emperor starts laughing and shows pleasure at Luke’s abilities to harness the Force, the symbol of Vader’s mechanical hand brings Luke back from the edge of rage. He suddenly comprehends that his own mechanical hand represents two very different and powerful forces. Luke’s mechanical hand is the direct result of the nature of the dark side.

In Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke confronts a ghostly, dream-world Vader who was also himself. This hand, however, is actual, tangible evidence that he is just like his father, and he connects with the dark side. Second, the action of Luke slicing off his father’s hand reminds Luke that Vader cut off Luke’s hand … instead of taking his life. Vader showed Luke grace, therefore Luke decides to show grace back to his father. In his giving of grace, refusing the anger, fear, and aggression, Luke truly becomes a Jedi Knight.

Metaphorically, this is the fruitfulness that God wants out of us, as part of himself, as part of the vine. This is the ultimate image of overcoming evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

Perhaps Luke underestimates the light side. It is ironic, this truth: that Luke’s single act of sparing Vader turns the tables on the entire Star Wars™ universe. Before Luke is born, it was thought that Anakin Skywalker was to fulfill the prophesy and restore balance to the Force, which meant that he was to find the Sith Lord and kill him.

In the prequels, the Jedi masters do not at first understand what restoring the balance means, as they themselves are not even aware of a dark Sith Lord. In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Anakin has the opportunity to strike down the Emperor and fulfill his destiny. He fails and instead becomes evil. Luke’s sacrifice helps turn Anakin back to his original course, who with the last ounce of his life, thrusts the Emperor down the shaft to kill him.

Were there a God in this Star Wars™ universe, Vader’s action in this instance would be due to Luke living for God, and demonstrating evidence that the Holy Spirit is truly with him.

*Devotion from Caleb Grimes’ new book, Star Wars Jesus, A Spiritual Commentary on the Reality of the Force. Used with permission.

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