The Force is With You
In the classic movie Star Wars, episode IV, the very first Star Wars movie, we hear a line that to this day still causes a few of us to hold our collective breath. Darth Vader, a frightening caped villain, raises his light saber to kill the hero's beloved mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi. Kenobi, who has been teaching his young prodigy, Luke Skywalker, how to be a Jedi now throws the entire audience into complete consternation when he says the words few have forgotten since actor Alec Guinness boldly spoke them to the dark demon, Vader, thirty-eight years ago.
"You can't win, Darth." Kenobi said fearlessly, completely assured of his message. "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." He then lowered his saber and Vader swung what he thought was the final blow as Kenobi's cape fell empty to the ground, Luke, watching from a distance, cried out, but picked up the gauntlet to continue where Obi-Wan left off.
I was only eight when I saw Star Wars with my older brother and sister. I remember wondering why I was being permitted to see a scary movie, but as it played out, I realized it was not a horror flick, but a story; a profound story. It has been said, in fact, that most great stories are just a retelling of the Bible. In these great stories, you will usually find a malefactor and a hero. The hero though, is seldom a Hercules with a cleft chin and cape. He is usually an unlikely specimen. What about Superman and his ilk? Even his story would be boring were it not for the fact that at some point the anti-hero gains the upper hand. If Superman didn't have his Kryptonite, the story would never gain momentum. It would be expected, even tiresome to watch the hero defeat his opponents in every battle. The entire system of gambling is based on the long shot. It's the upset that shoots the crowds to their feet. Consider for a moment what Obi-Wan was really saying when he gave his life. He was essentially saying this, from the Word of God, "Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." (Jn 12:24.)
Take Martin Luther King. Here is a preacher, a black man in a time when African Americans weren't even considered viable citizens, let alone equal in humanity to their white counterparts. Who on earth could have imagined that a lowly preacher would turn the most powerful country in the world upside down? Here is another example of the kernel of wheat. Now, you might argue that King did not willingly give his life, you might say it was stolen from him, but I might disagree. If a harmless, little black woman could be arrested for not giving up her seat to a white person on a bus, then what would they do to a man who is commanding the attention of a nation and who, with nothing but his words, is generating electricity for change? They are going to do what they've always done to those who speak out on behalf of good in this world... they're going to kill him! King knows it, his entourage knows it, the powers that be know it, and Heaven help her, his wife knows it. Ten years before his assignation, an attempt was made on his life and in his final speech, he tells his listeners that his own longevity is not expected.
There are always stories, real and created, that speak of men laying their lives down for a greater good, from 9-11 to Braveheart. And as inspiring as these stories are, as powerful and game changing, they still are only a shadow of the original love story. The story of a Jewish carpenter, of no reputation. The oldest son of a couple without means. He lived a simple life attending temple and working with wood. But as history repeatedly tells us, 'don't judge a book by its cover.' Humble he may be, and if you cut him he bleeds, but this man has a destiny, as does his very blood. His skin isn't black or white, it's brown. He doesn't represent one of us, he represents all of us. He is one-hundred percent human, but on the inside beats the heart of God. He's come to set us free from the chains that bind us and this will be intense. A violent ending to a life that was given freely. The story of Jesus is the story of the grain of wheat. It is the story of Obi-Wan and Martin Luther King and every other unlikely hero save one detail: "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Cor 5:21)
This is a story unsurpassed throughout the ages. Though many stories will mirror and shadow it, no story captures its astonishing message: We have a mortal enemy in Satan. We have a true love in God, and we have an undeniable hero in Jesus. And though this chronicle appears to end in death, it quite profoundly, does not. This is a story of an assassination that ends in life. Some children watching in that first Star Wars audience in 1977 might not have understand why Obi-Wan, the teacher, gave his life. And even today, there are many who don't understand the story of Jesus, the Messiah, but when they finally gain the understanding of what was done for them on the cross, and why, they are in that moment, transformed forever.