So far, I have covered three themes that are in the movie Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker that we also find in scripture. (You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here). In this third installment, I am unpacking a fourth theme from the movie. [Warning: spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie yet.]
4. The power to raise the dead
In Episode III, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, Chancellor Palpatine tells Anakin a legend about an ancient Sith, Darth Plaguies, who could essentially raise people from the dead. We are led to believe Palpatine was the apprentice who learned this “unnatural” power from Plaguies. Cut to Episode IX, Rise of Skywalker, and it seems as though Darth Sidious (Palpatine) has returned from the dead using this power in a sort of Frankenstein body. Darth Sidious further animates his carcass of a body by using the dark side of the Force to steal life energy from Rey and Kylo Ren.
At the end of the movie, we also see Kylo Ren, who is Ben at this point, use the Force to transfer all of his remaining “life energy” into Rey who is dead. This is essentially force healing on steroids. (I talk about Rey’s explanation of force healing here.) This raises Rey back to life but ends up killing Ben.
Both of these forms of resurrection/resuscitation are very different than what we see in the New Testament. Jesus does, in fact, raise the dead in His ministry and, like healing, passes that calling on to His disciples. We see both Peter (Acts 9:36-42) and Paul (Acts 20:7-12) raise the dead through the power of the Spirit in their own ministries. I write more extensively about that here in a conversational format, but I don’t have the space in this post to get into too much detail.
Suffice it to say that the same differences that exist between praying for healing and force healing exist between raising the dead in the New Testament and using the Force to bring back the dead in Star Wars. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. By dying and defeating death through His own resurrection, He showed His own authority over death. And through the Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Christ from the dead now flows in us as followers of Jesus (Romans 8:11).
Jesus is the source of life. Jesus is the source of resurrection/resuscitation, not our “life energy” getting transferred. We are the conduits of the power of the Holy Spirit, but we are not the source. Jesus alone has that power.
In one instance, Jesus raised a young girl from the dead after her father asked Him to. He apparently had become so well known for healings and resurrections that people had confidence He could do it again upon request.
“My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.”Matthew 9:18
In another instance, Jesus raised a young man from the dead right in the middle of his funeral. Can you imagine being at that funeral?
As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow…When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
Then he went up and touched the bier they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.Luke 7:12-15
Far from being an “unnatural” power as described in Sith lore, Jesus, the author of life, releasing life to this young man. Bringing him back from the dead was the most natural thing in the world. In God’s Kingdom, there is no death. Jesus was ushering in the Kingdom of God to invade the kingdom of the world in that moment. The New Testament describes Jesus this way:
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.Colossians 1:16-17
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, was the One through which all of creation came to life. He has been bringing things to life from the very beginning of time. In Him all things hold together. So for Jesus to bring this young man, and the young girl, back to life was the most natural thing in the world for Him to do.
Jesus is the Source of Life. He has authority over death. He is the resurrection and the life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Him is life and that life is the light of all humanity. He alone is worthy of our worship, our surrender, our life.