In the film Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, Luke Skywalker travels to the planet of Dagobah to train with the Jedi Master Yoda. In these few scenes, wise Yoda instructs young Luke in the ways of the Force, and from that, we discuss the Christian themes of faith and the reflections of the heart.
For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:
- 00:00:00 – Introduction
- 00:03:40 – Star Wars Episode V Discussion
- 01:05:00 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
- 01:21:40 – Reel News
- 01:25:00 – Well-mannered Frivolity
- 01:39:00 – Lightning Round
- 01:44:15 – Upcoming
O Luke of Little Faith
Yoda makes it look easy, but being a Jedi by submitting fully to the Force proves too much for young Luke. Balancing his master with a handstand while stacking some rocks without touching them seems to be all that Luke can handle; so, when the X-Wing sinks into the swamp, Luke fears that it cannot be lifted out.
Yoda then suggests that Luke use the Force to redeem his ship. Luke tries, but he loses hope when the only thing that surfaces is a bunch of bubbles. As Luke wallows in his self-pity, Yoda takes the opportunity to explain the Force from a different point of view to Luke. But even as clearly and as eloquently as Yoda puts it, Luke is still despondent and even goes as far as to say that the situation is impossible.
Yoda then stands up, walks over to the bog, outstretches his green hand, and indeed lifts via the Force the vessel out of the swamp. He then moves it over to where Luke is sulking and forces Luke to get out of the way. After Luke confirms the event by feeling his way around the ship, he conceits that he doesn’t believe what he has just seen. And Yoda, in his wisdom, regarding Luke’s unbelief, retorts, “And that is why you fail.”
In this scene, Yoda can be understood to be like Jesus in the passage of Mattew 17:14-21. A man has come to Jesus asking him to heal his sick son. He came to Jesus specifically because Jesus’ disciples could not do the job, and the man was starting to panic. Jesus heals the boy, though, and when the disciples ask Him why they couldn’t do it, He responds thusly:
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. (KJV)
Just as Luke was unable to move the X-Wing out of the swamp because he didn’t believe in the Force, so it was with the disciples in this story who did not have the faith of a mustard seed and could not help the man’s son. Furthermore, so it is with us when we can’t do great things because we don’t have faith in God.
Luke’s Reflection in the Cave
After a couple of those famously wonky transitions, the film returns to Dagobah to find Luke and Yoda still training in the swampland. Yoda has moved on from the parlor tricks and is now piggy-backing on Luke as the latter runs, jumps, and swings in the forest. Yoda then takes this opportunity to explain the Dark Side of the Force, and when Luke begins probing for things Yoda deems too high for Luke to grasp, so Yoda ends his wisdom for the day.
But then Luke happens upon a cave that feels “cold,” Yoda explains that it is a place strong with the Dark Side and calls it a “domain of evil.” Curious Luke wants to go exploring and asks Yoda what’s in the cave, and Yoda responds with, “Only what you take with you.”
Luke enters the cave, and after a few groggy steps, he encounters what looks like Darth Vader. The two duke it out lightsaber style, and Luke ultimately decapitates his opponent. But as the head rolls to the ground, the helmet explodes to reveal not an unmasked Darth Vader but a defeated Luke Skywalker.
One could easily point to how this scene illustrates the theological idea of Depravity – that everyone has the capacity to miss the mark and give way to the Dark Side. But what counters that wickedness is making the choice to try to save the lives of those in peril. For Luke, this meant leaving his Jedi training (much to the dismay of Yoda and Obi-Wan) and saving them from danger.
Just as Luke looked upon on his own face in the Vader helmet and knew that he could very well indeed turn to the Darth Side, he also saw that he could defeat such temptation and go on to do the right thing. This echoes what we read in the Book of Proverbs:
As a face is reflected in water,
so the heart reflects the real person.
Luke saw his evil reflection but made the choice to not follow it and instead followed his own inclination of what was right – saving his friends – and that kind of discernment can only come from a heart that is full of the Holy Spirit.
Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.
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