The new Star Wars movie is coming out in just a few weeks. I am excited! I saw the first movie (Episode IV) back in 1976 when it premiered. My expectations weren’t very high but as soon as it started, I was hooked. Since the moment I saw that Star Destroyer filling the screen, it’s been one of my favorite movie series of all time along with The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
The most recognizable villain in the series is Darth Vader. He epitomizes evil. His conscience seems to be non-existent. He will kill at random and his allegiance to the Emperor is frightening. James Earl Jones provides the voice for Vader and it has become iconic. There have been hundreds of toys made out of the Star Wars characters. Darth Vader outsells them all. His likeness is recognizable even to those who aren’t fans of the move. The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. even uses a sculpture of his head as one of the gargoyles mounted near the roof!
His story is one of horror but also of redemption. Vader was the ultimate bad guy in the movies but he was the one who became the ultimate hero in the end. The movies are, arguably, more about his story than anyone else’s including Luke. In the end, Luke, his son, is about to die at the hands of the Emperor while Vader watches. Luke continuously cries out that there is good inside his father; appealing to that side of him that hasn’t become completely given over to the dark side. Something stirs inside the villain and he throws his master to his death suffering a mortal injury in the process.
He is redeemed.
Vader is a moving character to me because of the pain he endures, the depth of evil to which he falls, but especially because he overcomes that evil in the end.
To me, his story is an example of God’s grace. We all have a dark side. We can all be selfish, uncaring, vengeful, dishonest, lustful, and generally very imperfect. We can all, however, overcome those imperfections through God’s grace. There is hope for every one of us because God loves us all and wants us all to be redeemed. We may think we’re beyond hope, or beyond the reach of God’s grace, but He can redeem anyone. The Bible abounds with stories like Darth Vader’s; King David the adulterer and murderer, Samson the lustful hero who ultimately destroys God’s enemies, Saul the persecutor of the early Church who became one of its greatest missionaries; the list could go on.
God’s grace is great enough to overcome the greatest sin and to redeem the greatest sinner, even Darth Vader.
Rob Morton is minister of First Christian Church Middlesboro. Contact him at [email protected]