STAR WARS EPISODE VI: Kindness and Repentance | FCC 68

In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker’s kindness leads to his father Darth Vader’s repentance. In this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast, we discuss the Christian themes of kindness and gentleness as a part of the fruit of the Spirit and how that fruit can change even the most evil of hearts.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:08:05 Star Wars Episode VI Discussion 
  • 01:27:35 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
  • 01:39:30 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:44:40 – Lightning Round
  • 01:51:20 – Upcoming

Luke’s Kindness Leads to Darth Vader’s Repentance

When Luke surrenders to Darth Vader, he doesn’t go kicking and screaming; instead, he submits in quiet humility like a lamb to the slaughter. But as he’s going, he is being nothing but kind to Darth Vader by offering every chance he can of leaving the Emperor and joining the Rebels to defeat the Dark Side once and for all. Because Darth Vader believes he is too far gone for salvation, though, he rejects his son’s offer and hands him over to the Emperor.

Once there, Vader watches as the Emperor manipulate Luke into relishing a little of the Dark Side. It’s enough to make Luke want to strike the Emperor down, but Vader stops that from happening (either because he was protecting the Emperor from Luke or saving Luke from making the same mistake he did, who knows).

This image from STAR WARS EPISODE VI show Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in a lightsaber duel.Since Darth Vader can’t stop Luke in the duel, the Emperor then takes it upon himself to unleash the full power of the Dark Side on Luke with the intent to kill him. Something awakens in Vader, however, and causes him to pick up the Emperor and toss him down the nuclear power shaft.

It took Vader remembering the kindness that Luke showed him in the prior scenes to get him to take the chance to save Luke that was in front of him. Through God’s loving-kindness to us, just like Luke’s loving-kindness to his father, we are given the opportunity and the choice to get back in line with God.

For some of us, it may take visualizing the pain Jesus suffered on the cross to remember that kindness; for others, it may take seeing the atrocities of this world and longing for God’s justice and righteousness being restored to remember that such restoration first began at the cross.

Whatever it takes, let us remember that kindness, and let us share that kindness with everyone so that some will have the chance to repent.


Darth Vader As The First Adam

Even though this film is the climax of the original Star Wars trilogy, we must also remember the first trilogy – Episodes I, II, and III – in order to bolster this message of this header. In Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, we meet young Ani; he’s a droid builder and a heck of a podracer, but the Jedi sense that the Force is strong with him.

In fact, it turns out that he is the Chosen One – the one who would bring balance to the Force – and much of what we see in the first three episodes is that little Ani growing in wisdom and in stature. But we also see his initial inclination and eventual fall into the Dark Side from which springs his present manifestation of Darth Vader.

This image from STAR WARS EPISODE VI shows Luke Skywalker kneeling beside an unmasked and dying Darth Vader.This is what makes Darth Vader such a classically tragic figure: that he began with so much hope and promise, fell away from it all, and then remembered the love and kindness of his son.

This is also what makes us empathize with Darth Vader as we, too – not only as individuals but as the collective human race – began with so much potential but still missed the mark somewhere along the way. And unfortunately, in some cases, the behavioral patterns of sin, just as with the Emperor, have already won.

To be honest, we all deserve the death on the cross that Jesus took in our stead, just as Vader really deserved the pain that Luke ended up taking. But just as Luke was his father’s propitiation, Jesus is ours, and we are given the chance to repent – to turn from our wicked ways and live to walk in newness of life.

And that, in my book, is a chance worth taking.


KEY TEXTS

1. Romans 2:4 (NIV)

Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

2. 1 John 2:1-2 (NASB)

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.


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.

Use the audio player at the top of this article to listen to the podcast, or use the links below for other convenient ways to hear FCC.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a way to use good stories to soften people’s hearts.

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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys, good angle on Luke’s kindness leading to Vader’s repentance. I also got something from the redemption of Darth Vader, which reminds me of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 20, where a landowner hires workers throughout the day, and those hired at the end of the day receive the same pay as those hired in the morning who had worked much longer for him.

    Matthew 20:9-16(NKJV)- And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius. But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them and said, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen.”

    Likewise, when Vader repented at the eleventh hour, he received the same reward as Yoda, who had been a faithful Jedi for centuries. Human nature often sees this as unfair or unjust, but by focusing on God’s holiness and goodness and realizing that He owes us nothing, we can rejoice in those who have lived a lifetime of rebellion but given their lives to Christ at the last opportunity.

    I liked the talk of the light saber battle, which I think is the best in all the movies. While I think the duel at the end of Phantom Menace has the best choreography, Mark Hamill’s acting puts this one on top for me. The passion and fury he shows as he is just whaling on his father and cuts off his hand is the most powerful moment in all of Star Wars, in my opinion. When you think back to Ben Kenobi describing the light saber as an elegant weapon, here it has been turned into a weapon of brutality as Luke gives in to the the Dark Side. There is no grace or beauty that you typically see from a Jedi in a duel, just raw anger.

    Thanks for the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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