Rise of Skywalker: Biblical Themes (Part II)

In my first post about Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, I listed two themes that were in the movie that we also find in scripture. The first theme is the idea that there are more with us than are against us (2 Kings 6:16). The second theme is the truth that, as followers of Jesus, we are never alone. Jesus is always with us (Matthew 28:20), and we have a cloud of witnesses cheering us on (Hebrews 12:1).

In this post, I want to examine another theme (#3) that is prominent in Rise of Skywalker that is also prominent in the New Testament.  

3.  Healing the sick through the laying on of hands

We saw glimpses of what the Star Wars universe calls “force healing” in Episodes III and IV but nothing like what we saw Rise of Skywalker (Episode IX). In Episode III, Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan bends down and seems to administer force healing on Padme when she is nearly choked to death by Anakin on Mustafar. We see Obi-Wan do something similar for Luke in Episode IV after Luke gets attacked by Tusken Raiders in the canyon on Tatooine. But in Rise of Skywalker, we get a more in depth look at force healings and an explanation from Rey about how they happen. 

In Episode IX, Rey first uses force healing to heal a sand worm. She uses it again on Kylo Ren after she impales him during their lightsaber fight on the ruins of the old Death Star. In both cases we see Rey lay her hands on the being/person she is trying to heal.

After healing the huge sand worm, Rey explains that, as a Jedi, she is able to use the Force to transfer a part of her life energy to another being in order to heal them. This ends up draining the Jedi because it takes some of their life and releases it to another person. The greater the injury, the more it drains the Jedi trying to heal the person. 

In the life of Jesus, and in the lives of the early disciples, we see people healed through the laying on of their hands. Jesus modeled this for us.

“…the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them.” 

Luke 4:40

Then Jesus tells his disciples that they will continue to heal, through the power of the Spirit, as He had been doing.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

John 14:12

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will…place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” 

Mark 16:17-18

Then we see the disciples do exactly that. One time, when Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta, he healed the father of the chief Roman official of the island in much the same way that Jesus healed people.

“There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official of the island. He welcomed us to his home and showed us generous hospitality for three days. His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.”

Acts 28:7-8

We too are called to lay hands on the sick and see them healed. On a number of occasions, I have laid my hands on people, prayed, and seen the body part that needed healing immediately get healed right under my hands. Members of my prayer team have seen the same thing happen with them. But let’s be clear, we are no Jedi.

Real healing that happens through the power of the Holy Spirit are not like “force healing.” In fictitious force healing, one must be able to connect with or be one with the Force. Then they must use the Force to transfer their life energy to someone else. When we lay hands on people and pray for the sick, we are not connecting with an impersonal force. We are connecting with a person named Jesus. He’s is the one who purchased our healing by His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. We must be relationally one with Him.

Then, when we pray for the sick, we are asking Jesus to release His healing power, the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, to bring healing. We are inviting the Kingdom of God to come here on earth, in this body, as it is in heaven. We know there is no sickness or disease in the Kingdom of God. So, we are inviting God to bring His Kingdom of no sickness into this broken world.

When power flows through us to the other person, it is not our “life energy” that we are giving away. We are not the source. We are merely conduits of the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a privilege to be a conduit, but the power that brings healing is not ours to manipulate. It belongs to Jesus alone. Jesus sent His own disciples out to do ministry and told them this:

As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Matthew 10:7-8

As followers of Jesus, we have freely received the Holy Spirit and all the gifting that comes with Him (read 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). Now we are to go and give it away. We are to step into our authority as ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), as sons and daughters of the King of Kings (Romans 8:14-17), and command demons to leave and body parts to be made well. But we do so based on delegated authority, not our own authority. We do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by the power of our own life energy. Again, we are not the source of the healing. We are only conduits.

Having seen people healed right in front of me, I watched the force healing scenes a little differently than most. While many watched in delight and wonder at a Jedi using force healing, wishing they could do that, I was reminded that Jesus did do that and calls us to do the same. While most relegate healing through the laying on of hands to the realms of science-fiction, I have participated in it in real life. So have others at my church and many churches around the world.

The power of the Holy Spirit is real, and you don’t need to be a Jedi to experience it, but you do need to be a follower of Jesus. As followers of Jesus who have fully surrendered to the Lord and have been filled with the Spirit, this is our inheritance. We’ve been given the awesome responsibility of praying for the sick and the amazing privilege of watching as Jesus heals people through us right before our eyes.

Into Flame

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 

2 Timothy 1:6

This one sentence from Paul to Timothy is packed with so much truth.

Timothy has a gift, a charisma, of God. We know from 1 Corinthians 12:11 that it is the Holy Spirit who distributes the gifts to His people, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines”(1 Cor 12:11).

Yet, while we know the gift came from the Spirit of God, we learn here that it came through Paul. Apparently, Paul laid his hands on Timothy and prayed for the Spirit to release gifting to Timothy. And what is even more striking is that the Holy Spirit did it. This ability to release an increase of the power of the Spirit or an increase of the gifts of the Spirit is called impartation. Impartation started in the Old Testament with Moses and Joshua:

Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.

Deuteronomy 34:9

We also see impartation between Moses and the elders who were to help Moses lead in the desert. God told Moses He would take some of the power of the Spirit that was on Moses and give it to the elders:

I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone.

Numbers 11:17

Yet, even with Paul imparting gifts to Timothy through the laying on of hands, Timothy still had a responsibility. Timothy was required to “fan into flame” the gift of God. In the Greek, that phrase is one compound word. The Greek word combines the prefix that means “again” and the words meaning “living thing” and “fire.” Literally, this compound Greek word means “to make the fire alive again.”

Fire is often a prophetic symbol of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Though Timothy was given a gift, he couldn’t remain complacent. He had to fan it into flame. He had to use his gift, grow in his gift, and tend to it as a priest would tend to the fire on the altar of the Temple.

The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Leviticus 6:12-13

Our lives are the living sacrifices on the altar and we must keep the fire burning. We must fan into flame the gifts of the Spirit in our lives so that our gifts are a continual offering to the Lord.