Gospel According to Star Wars, Episode III
What Would Jesus Say to Darth Vader?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 22, 2005
Main Passage: Ephesians
I finally saw it this
week. The 28 year old questions have finally been answered. Star Wars
Episode III: Revenge of the Sith is the latest and final movie of the
Star Wars series, and it hit theatres this past Thursday, setting a new
one-day record by bringing in over 50 million dollars on opening day.
(Spider-Man 2 is now in second… bringing in just over 40 million on its
opening day.) By the end of business on Friday, it had climbed to the
fourth top grossing movie so far in 2005. And I like to think I was a
part of that.
You know, it’s amazing when I think back and realize that I was only 6
years old when the first movie was released. I wasn’t even allowed to
go to movies then… I had to wait a couple of years until Star Wars was
broadcast on TV. And, of course, I had to watch it every time it was
broadcast on TV. And here I am, almost three decades later, still
talking about Star Wars and yet another movie.
But here I am doing just that, and Episode III which I saw this week is
critical to the series as a whole. Why? Because this is the one where
Darth Vader turns to the Dark Side. Until now, it’s always been such a
mystery how Darth Vader became such a villain. But now we know. Or at
least I do… you’ve gotta pay your ten bucks to find out.
Of course I had to go to see the movie this week. Partly because I
wanted to see it… okay, mostly because I wanted to see it… but also
because I needed to do some research for the message this morning.
Because today we’re continuing our series on The Gospel According to
Star Wars as we address the question, “What Would Jesus Say to Darth
Now, I was talking with someone this week and I asked him if he had
ever seen a Star Wars movie. And he said, “What’s that?” So for those
of you who aren’t aware, this is Darth Vader… [PowerPoint Image]…one of
the main characters in the Star Wars series. In fact, he is widely
recognized as the greatest movie villain of all time. He is the very
epitome of evil.
But it wasn’t always that way. When the Star Wars saga begins in The
Phantom Menace, we’re introduced to a young boy named Anakin Skywalker.
Anakin is an innocent, well-meaning boy who apparently has what it
takes to become a great Jedi knight, defending the Republic from evil
wherever it may arise. This youngster eventually grows up and has a son
named Luke. But along the way Anakin becomes deceived and corrupted by
the Dark Side. As Obi-Wan later explained to Luke…
“Your father was seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. He ceased to be
Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good
man who was your father was destroyed.”
~ Obi-Wan Kenobi in Return of the Jedi
And he becomes Darth Vader, the embodiment of evil. What is it that
turns him from good to evil? Well, I know and I’m not tellin’. That’s
what Episode III is all about, and I’m not going to ruin it for you.
You’ll have to see the movie for yourself.
So what would Jesus say to this Dark Lord of the Sith? I think he may
start by telling Vader…
What Would Jesus Say to Darth Vader?
1. You have
been deceived by evil.
Again, this deception is
the plotline for Episode III so I’m not going to get into details. But
suffice it to say that when Anakin Skywalker turned from the good side
to the Dark Side, he thought he was doing the right thing. He had been
told lies that he accepted as truth. That’s the strength of the Dark
Side… it’s never more powerful than when you’re not even aware that
Let me tell you something about evil. If you could ever see the
corruption… the utter repugnance… of evil, you would never be tempted
by it. But most times, evil is wrapped up in such a nice pretty package
that it looks good. It seems right. It appears to be what will bring
you happiness. And only when it’s too late do you discover its true
In the Bible, Satan is referred to as the deceiver of the world. In
fact, the word “Devil” literally means “Deceiver.” The name “Satan”
means “Adversary.” But his skill is that he’s able to masquerade as
The Bible also calls Satan an Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He
can make evil appear so beautiful. He can manipulate you to think that
sin really isn’t all that bad. And that’s the power of temptation.
And he’s also called a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). Feeding
you lies is his specialty. He knows just how to manipulate you into
wanting evil without even realizing that it’s evil. That’s why the
Bible warns us…
Hebrews 3:12-13 (CEV)
My friends, watch out! Don't let evil
thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. You must
encourage one another each day… If you don't, then sin may fool some of
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (CEV)
Put everything to the test. Accept what is
good and don't have anything to do with evil.
Do you realize that when God looks at our sinfulness, He’s repulsed by
it? That’s why when Jesus was dying on the cross and took upon Himself
all of our sinfulness and moral filth, God the Father had to turn His
head. He couldn’t stomach it. But at the same time, as we commit
ourselves to Him, He will take us through a process of purification
that will completely decontaminate the “moral filth” from our lives. If
you could see sin through God’s eyes… if you could see sin for what it
really is… you would understand that it is a disgusting and repulsive
thing. There would be nothing attractive about it. Don’t allow Satan to
convince you otherwise.
Anakin Skywalker was deceived by the Dark Side. But it wasn’t a sudden
thing. Even in Episode II, we see Chancellor Palpatine starting to take
an interest in Anakin and starting to plant seeds of doubt. Over time,
Palpatine gradually introduces Anakin to the Dark Side… in such small
doses that Anakin doesn’t realize the danger. Until finally, when
Anakin switches sides, he thinks he had no choice. He thinks he’s doing
the right thing. But if he had paused long enough to consider the
consequences… if he had been able to see the deception for what it was…
if he could have understood the immeasurable pain he was going to cause
to himself and everyone he loved… he never would have given in. And if
he had recognized it early on, he would have been able to resist. But
he had ignored the warnings of the Jedi council and of Obi-Wan and
found himself trapped, not being able to tell right from wrong.
You know, sometimes we get ourselves all caught up in a sinful pattern
in our lives. We struggle with the same issue over and over again. But
when you think back, it all started so innocently. It didn’t seem so
bad at first, so we allowed ourselves to enjoy it. But that seed of sin
grows in us until it overwhelms us. And only through prayer and the
power of God, and usually over a period of time accompanied by a great
struggle, can we regain control of that area of our lives.
So when you are tempted by sin that appears so appealing, pause long
enough to consider what it will cost you. Weigh the temporary pleasure
of giving in with the eternal consequences. Look behind the attractive
mask of evil and see it for the disgusting thing that it is. And
understand how utterly repulsing it is to God.
2. Your evil
ways will lead to death.
The Book of Proverbs in
the Old Testament stated it simply…
Proverbs 11:19 (NLT)
Godly people find life; evil people find
In the Star Wars saga, after Anakin becomes Darth Vader and throughout
the rest of the series, Vader seems to be surrounded by an aura of
death. There’s physical death… we see Vader killing people on a whim.
We even see him blow up an entire planet! Then there’s the death of
freedom… the death of hope… the death of purpose.
That was true for those around Vader, and it was true for Vader
himself. Again, think about how Obi-Wan described it. He said that when
Anakin was seduced by the Dark Side, he stopped being Anakin and became
Darth Vader. The man he used to be died at that moment. And all that
was left was Vader. He had already suffered a kind of death.
In the Bible, there are three kinds of death described.
Physical death entered this world because of the Fall of Humanity in
the Garden of Eden… because Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned
against Him. Physical death is the kind of death that’s the most
obvious to us right now. It’s the death referred to in Hebrews 9:27…
Hebrews 9:27 (CEV)
We die only once, and then we are judged.
That’s the death of our physical bodies… through old age, through
illness, through an accident… whatever. This tends to be the kind of
death we fear most right now, but in reality this is the least serious
kind of death. Here’s a much more serious kind of death…
This is the kind of death we suffer here and now because of our
sinfulness. And we’re all born into sin. No one is exempt from sin, so
we have all died spiritually. Some of us have also been restored to
life, but I’m getting ahead of myself. What is spiritual death? It’s
the death of communion with God. It’s the death of understanding our
life purpose. It’s the death of the image of God in us. It’s the death
we deserve because of our rebellion against God.
Romans 6:23 (NLT)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the
free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And the ultimate conclusion of spiritual death is…
What is Eternal Death? It is eternal separation from God. It is an
eternity removed from the Source of Life. We’ve already seen that when
we die physically, we will face the Judgement. If our names are written
in the Book of Life, we will be pardoned and welcomed to eternal life
in Heaven. But if we are still spiritual dead, we will be sentenced to
eternal death in Hell. But that does not mean that we cease to exist.
It means that we spend eternity removed from our Creator and source of
life. That was the kind of death that Jesus was talking about in John
3:16 when He said…
John 3:16 (NLT)
“God loved the people of this world so
much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him
will have eternal life and never really die.”
Is He saying that we’ll never physically die? No, that’s just part of
life. Is He saying, then, that we’ll never spiritually die? No, it’s
already too late for that. We’re all born into that. So what He’s
saying is that there is an eternal death which involves being judged
and sentenced, and then separated from God forever.
The third thing I think
Jesus might say to Darth Vader is perhaps the most profound, and it’s
3. I still love
you’ve done, despite all of the death you’ve caused, despite the fact
that you’ve given yourself over to the Dark Side… I still love you.
In the movies, Luke exemplified this kind of love. He knew just what
his father had become, but he still loved him. He still hoped for him.
He still wanted him to turn from what he was doing and return to the
man he used to be.
That’s a son’s love for his father. But you know what? God’s love for
us is even greater. As a race, we have rebelled against God.
Individually, every one of us has sinned and has turned away from God
and gone our own way. But God still loves us. And He has proven it by
becoming a Man and dying for us…
Romans 5:8 (NLT)
But God showed his great love for us by
sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Ephesians 2:4-5 (NLT)
But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us
so very much, that even while we were dead because of our sins, he gave
us life when he raised Christ from the dead.
That’s the extent of God’s love. It’s measureless. It’s beyond
comprehension. And nothing you could ever say, think or do could ever
Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)
And I am convinced that nothing can ever
separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels
can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about
tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.
Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in
all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that
is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And it’s because of this great love that Jesus would also say…
4. No matter
what you’ve done, you can be redeemed.
There’s a scene in
Return of the Jedi where Luke confronts his father and tried to
convince him to turn his back on the Dark Side. He tries to tell him
that he still has the potential for good. What does Vader say in
“It is too late for me, son.”
~ Darth Vader
But later on in the movie, when the evil Emperor is literally zapping
Luke with bursts of energy trying to kill him, we see Vader looking on.
And even behind the mask we can tell that he’s conflicted. Watch this…
VIDEO CLIP – Return of the Jedi (Title on DVD - "Vader's Redemption")
In a sense, Vader redeems himself at that moment. It’s the climax of
the entire Star Wars saga. And if I were to identify the grand
over-aching theme of the Star Wars movies, I would sum it up in the
word, “Redemption”. We go from seeing Anakin as an innocent little boy,
we watch him gradually give himself over to the Dark Side until it
consumes him, and then finally we witness his redemption at the climax
of the saga. And then at the very end of the movie we see the
fulfillment of his redemption as Anakin is reunited with Yoda and
Obi-Wan in the Star Wars version of the afterlife.
This theme resonates with all of us. Why? Because we've all been
corrupted by evil. Maybe not to the degree that Darth Vader has been,
but we all do things we know we shouldn't do but we do them anyway. We
all think things we shouldn’t think, but we think them anyway. We all
say things we shouldn’t say, but we say them anyway. We all fall short
of our own expectations and our own standards of behaving in life.
That's why we feel so guilty half the time. And if we're falling so
short of our own standard, just think how far we’re falling short of
God's standard, which is much higher. We've all been corrupted by evil.
But the message of Star Wars is this: Even for someone as thoroughly
corrupted as Darth Vader, there is still the hope of redemption for
him. No one is too far lost to be saved. And that's also the theme of
1 Timothy 1:15 (NLT)
This is a true saying, and everyone should
believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--and I was
the worst of them all.
Redemption. It’s the grand over-arching theme of Star Wars and it’s the
grand over-arching theme of all 66 books of the Bible. Even the very
worst of us is not beyond hope. We all have the potential for
redemption and restoration to a relationship with God. With one major
difference. In Star Wars, Darth Vader accomplishes his own redemption
by what he does. But the Bible makes it clear that we can't accomplish
our own redemption. Why? Because Jesus Christ has already accomplished
it for us. He says, “It’s not what you do; it’s what I’ve already done.”
Ephesians 1:7; 2:5 (NLT)
He is so rich in kindness that he purchased
our freedom through the blood of his Son, and our sins are forgiven… It
is only by God's special favor that you have been saved!
Jesus Christ died on the cross as our substitute to pay the penalty for
the sins that we've committed. And today He reaches out with this free
gift of forgiveness and eternal life. You don’t deserve it, you can’t
earn it, but He offers it anyway. He says, “It' s yours if you’ll come
to Me in repentance and faith and receive this free gift of
forgiveness. And then you and I can spend eternity in Heaven.”
Are some people beyond hope? Are some people beyond redemption? As you
scroll through the activities of your life… the evil, the misdeeds
you've done in your life the things that you've done wrong… if you were
to stand up here and confess them you'd be humiliated. The things that
nobody knows you've done wrong. The thoughts that you've had that are
so evil sometimes you wonder, “Where did that come from?” The words
that you've said that have stung other people and you've never said
you're sorry. The times you should have reached out to help someone but
you've turned your back and walked the other way. All of those times
that you’ve let yourself down and you’ve let God down… Could it be that
Jesus says to everybody else, “Here’s this gift of forgiveness and
eternal life. It's yours. It's free. Except for you. You're beyond
hope.” Where does He draw the line?
Well, the fact is, he doesn’t. His free gifts of forgiveness and
eternal life are offered to all who will simply believe that He is who
He says He is… God… and who will receive Him into their lives and
choose to follow Him. Believe and receive. That simple.
John 1:12 (NLT)
“But to all who believed him and accepted
him, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Believe and receive. Your redemption is as simple as that. But I do
believe there’s one more thing that Jesus might say to Darth Vader
after his redemption. And it’s this…
5. Change your
He might say, “Your
redemption is already paid for. But once you experience it, don’t keep
doing the same things you did before or you will end up in the same
place again. Change your ways.”
Acts 3:19 (CEV)
So turn to God! Give up your sins, and you
will be forgiven.
In other words, “Do not do the things you used to do. Don’t say the
things you used to say. Turn to God and change your ways.”
There’s a word that you hear once in a while and it’s a word found in
the Bible. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand what it
means. It’s the word “Repent.” For a lot of people, when they hear the
word repent, they immediately think of a guy wearing one of those
sandwich signs that says, “turn or burn,” or, “you're going to die and
Actually, the word “repent” literally means, “to change your mind.” It
means when I repent, I change my mind. First, I change my mind about
God, I change my mind about myself, I change my mind about others, I
change my mind about life. And a lot of people look at repentance as a
negative thing… “I'm going to have to give up this, this, and this, and
this…” And they see repentance as if it's something terrible.
But repenting is simply changing your mind away from the thoughts of
this world to the thoughts of God.
“When I repented… I basically turned from hopelessness to hope, from
darkness to light, from guilt to forgiveness, from loneliness to a
family of God, from purposelessness to purpose, from having no meaning
in my life to having meaning. It was the most positive change in my
~ Rick Warren on Larry King Live, March 26, 2005
So once you’re redeemed, you have to repent… you have to change your
mind and turn away from your old way of life and turn to a better life
Would you close your
eyes for a minute? Is there anyone here this morning that needs to be
redeemed? You need to be made right before God? You need to repent and
turn from your old ways and turn to God? Just raise your hand and I’ll
pray for you.