MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU Baptism of Jesus ABC
Today’s sermon is
a science fiction sermon.
One of the greatest
movies ever made was STAR WARS. For me, STAR WARS is one of the
greatest films that I have ever seen. For me, it ranks right up
there with GONE WITH THE WIND, DR. ZHIVAGO, and SNOW WHITE AND THE
SEVEN DWARFS. Yes, I know, those movies date me as “old.” STAR
WARS has become one of the great, old time and all time, film
classics. This is the kind of film that you need to see three, four,
five, six, seven times in order for you to catch all the subtle and
weird details in the film. STAR WARS in the thriller of all
thrillers. It has something for almost everyone. It is a combination
of a “shoot ‘em up western,” with cowboys and Indians, cops
and robbers, a love story that beats all love stories, and of
course, science fiction at its very best.
STAR WARS is not
only a science fiction film; it is a religious film as well. In
fact, it is a deeply religious film. Its religious message is
expressed through the medium of science fiction. A similar example:
one time in confirmation, I asked the students to write a
contemporary, modern parable. So the one computer geek kid, a
confirmation student, tried
to recreate the old familiar parable of the sheep and the shepherd
in modern thought forms. The computer geek/confirmation student said
that a computer lost one of its statistics. This computer went
through all of its systems, trying to find the one lost statistic.
The computer finally stopped searching but only when the lost
statistic had been found. Crazy. You see, this confirmation student
transposed the ancient parable of Jesus into a contemporary medium.
STAR WARS does the
same thing. It takes an old message and transposes it to a new
medium. The message of STAR WARS is similar to the message of the
Bible. STAR WARS uses a modern, scientific medium to express ancient
and profound religious truths that are found in the Bible.
Today, I would like
to create for you the setting for STAR WARS because the message of
STAR WARS is almost identical to the Bible and to the message of the
three particular Scriptures which are appointed for today.
The primary message of the Bible and a primary message of
STAR WARS are amazingly similar. This will become increasingly true
for you as we walk through the sermon for today.
Now, the setting of
STAR WARS is this. The setting was a long, long, long time ago…in
another part of the universe in which there was inter-planetary
warfare going on in galactic space. Of course, in this
inter-planetary war, there were both the good guys and the bad guys.
The bad guys were led by a powerful, evil man by the name of Tarkin
and he had one powerful general who was the most powerful, evil
force in the world. His name was (you know) … Darth Vader. If you
have ever seen STAR WARS, you will not forget Darth Vader. You will
always remember that black, iron faced mask. You can see Darth
Vader’s face so clearly in your memory bank. You can hear his
voice, the famous voice of James Earl Jones. Darth Vader was and
still is the personification of evil.
These evil forces,
led by Darth Vader, were about to conquer the world. These evil
forces occupied a very large space station, called Death Star. Death
Star was an enormous satellite in the sky and it too was black, as
black as the mask of Darth Vader himself and as deep and sinister as
the voice of Darth Vader. The world had come under their evil
control and the evil forces were about to destroy the last of the
good guys, the last of the rebel pilots. There was only one good
person left in all the universe, and he knew how to use the light
sword. He knew how to use the power of the Force. His name was O.B.
1 Knobe, the last of the Jedi knights.
Way at the
beginning of time, there were the good guys and they were called the
Jedi knights. O.B. 1 Knobe was the last of the Jedis. These Jedi
knights were the protectors of peace, justice and goodness. Their
power was called The Force. The Force. The Force was that
mysterious, invisible power behind the universe. The Jedi knights
knew how to use the Force. The Force was part of their life.
The Jedi knights would say to one another, “May the Force
be with you. May the Force give you power. May the Force give you
victory for the day.” The Jedis believed in the Force and knew how
to use its powers.
Now, this Force
could be used for good or evil. In the hands of the Jedi knights and
O.B. 1 Knobe, the Force was used to keep justice, peace and goodness
in the universe. But years ago, one of the Jedi knights fell from
grace, just like a fallen angel, and that fallen Jedi knight was
named Darth Vader. Darth Vader had started out good, but he was a
fallen force, a fallen angel, and Darth Vader began to use the power
of the force for evil, for death and destruction. He wanted to gain
control of the whole world, so that the whole world would be in the
grips of evil.
out the history of civilization, the forces of Darth Vader had
gotten the upper hand. In fact, it was now believed that the Force
no longer existed; that the Force was extinct; that the last of the
Jedi knights was dead; that the Force was merely a dimly faded
memory from a long, long, long time ago.
The story of STAR
WARS is the story of people recovering their knowledge of the Force,
that it actually existed but also, these people had to learn how to
use the power of the Force. The story of STAR WARS is learning once
again to believe in the Force and learning how to use the power of
the light sword in battle with the enemy. In prehistoric times, the
light sword had belonged to O.B. 1 Knobe. The problem was this: how
to transfer to a new generation the knowledge of the Force and the
knowledge of how to use the light sword. This new generation was
under the leadership of Luke Skywalker. STAR WARS is a story about
how the next and the new generation needed to learn how to use the
power of the Force. The young generation, the new generation, did
not know how to use the power of the Force. The young generation,
the new generation, did not know how to use the power of the light
sword. That is what the story is all about.
So you see, STAR
WARS is a very religious flick, if you understand that it is a
It is with this
image of the Force, this image of an invisible power behind the
universe; it is with this understanding that there is a whole new
generation that does not know how to use the power of the Force; it
is with these images that we hear and read all three Biblical
lessons for today that talk about the Force, the Spirit of God
coming upon his people, the Jedi knights, the Old Testament
prophets. The Spirit of God came upon one person, Jesus of Nazareth,
like on no other person before. And Jesus used this power to heal
people and to fight the demonic. The lessons for today are almost
identically parallel to the message of STAR WARS, except the
language of the Bible is religious language and the language of STAR
WARS is scientific fiction.
Would you please
take out your Scripture inserts from your bulletin for today? I will
show you what I am talking about. The first lesson is from Isaiah 42
which reads, “Behold, my servant, Jacob.” The servant is
referring to the nation of Israel, the Old Testament church. Jacob
has become a symbol of the Old Testament people of God. …
“In whom my soul delights. I have put my Spirit upon
him.” This is the Spirit of God who has come into the nation. The
nation had fallen away from God and the Spirit. The nation no longer
really believed in the Power of the Force nor did they know how to
use the power of the Force. In fact, then nation was living in such
a way that a person would be suspicious that the people did not even
believe in the Force anymore. The nation of Israel was now in
captivity, under the power of evil. In this passage, the Spirit of
God was being given anew to the nation. There was going to be an
outpouring of the Spirit on the nation. And what would that
“Spirit-filled” servant do? The servant will bring justice to
the nation. The Hebrew word for justice is “mishpat,” and the
word, mishpat, means true religion. True religion is to do justice,
to do God’s justice in the midst of an evil world. The servant,
anointed by the Spirit, anointed by the Force, will bring justice to
the whole world.
The Scripture goes
on, “He, the servant, will not cry or lift up his voice or make it
heard in the street.” In other words, there will be the Spirit of
gentleness, and you think of O.B. 1 Knobe and the Jedi knights, and
the Jedi knights were a very peaceful and gentle people. The
Scripture continues, “A bruised reed he will not break; a dimly
burning wick he will not quench.” There will be the spirit of
gentleness on the earth. “But he will faithfully bring forth
justice to all the world.”
When the Spirit of
God came upon the Jedi knights, when the Force came upon Jesus of
Nazareth, and when the Force comes upon your life and mine, we will
not fail nor will we be discouraged until we have brought justice to
the ends of the whole earth.
Now, I want you to
skip down to Acts 10:34-38. I would like you to look at the last
five lines and how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed
Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit, how the Spirit or Force came
on Jesus, and how Jesus then went about doing good and
healing all who were oppressed by evil, by Darth Vader, for God was
with him. The Spirit, the Force was with Jesus. It sounds as if this
passage came right out of STAR WARS. The Spirit of God came upon
this man; this man was filled with power; and he went about doing
good and healing all those who were oppressed by evil, by Darth
Vader, by the power of evil in this world. The last line was: God
was with him. The Power of the Force was with him.
Let us look at the
gospel lesson. Let us look at the gospel of Luke. And let us examine
the last five lines from Luke. “And behold the heavens were
opened, and he saw the Spirit of God, the Force, descending on him
like a dove, alighting on Jesus and saying, “This is my beloved
Son in whom I am well pleased.”
Tell me, what
happens in the next verse? Where does Jesus go? The Force leads
Jesus out into the wilderness to begin his temptation and his fight
with Darth Vader. It is always the same with you and me personally.
When the Force comes upon you, you then go into the wilderness and
begin the battle with the forces of evil, with the Death Star.
The gospel lesson
and all three Scriptures are saying the same thing. They describe a
time when the Spirit of God came upon a person, and this power was
used to do good and to fight the power of Darth Vader in this world.
What is expressed
in science fiction language in STAR WARS is a similar truth as
expressed in the Biblical texts for today.
The message of the
Bible is that there is an invisible power. The message of the Bible
is that there is an invisible Power with us here on this planet;
that this mysterious, invisible power is the Spirit of God, the
Spirit of the living God. But in many people’s minds, the Spirit,
the Force, is nothing but science fiction and is part of an ancient
legend from the past. It seems to me that there are a lot of people
today who do not believe that there is an invisible power spiritual
force at work in this world. Such thoughts seem to be modern science
fiction or ancient legends from the past.
In the recent two
centuries, we have lived in a strongly scientific age. Especially
during the last century, we have lived in an era where the world has
become intensely scientific. In the eyes of many, science and
technology have replaced the Spirit of God, the invisible Spirit,
the Force. The Spirit of God cannot be measured. The Spirit of God
cannot be seen. The Spirit of God cannot be quantified. So if the
Spirit of God cannot be seen, measured and quantified, it must not
be that important. For that which is really important in the
scientific world is that which can be seen, measured and quantified.
And so in this recent century, more and more people have come to the
conclusion that the Force, the Spirit, is part of an ancient, old
legend from thousands of years ago. It is part of ancient mythology
and superstition. The Spirit of God becomes an ancient myth, a
legend, a fabled story from the deep and distant past.
Or, if you do
believe that there is a Force, an invisible mysterious Presence in
and around this world, that does not mean that you know how to use
it. There are many people who believe that there is a God of the
universe, that there is a Force. It would be like people believing
that there is electrical energy, but that does not mean that the
person is going to plug into its power. Because the power exists
does not mean that a person knows how to use it. Similarly, a lot of
people believe in the power of the computer but they don’t know
how to use it. There are a lot of people who do believe in the
Force, that there is an invisible power among us. They know that
such a power exists; they sense this power around them, but that
does not mean that they know how to plug into the power or use it.
When was the Spirit
of God really operational on the earth? We know. Way back during the
time of the prophets, during the times of Amos and Isaiah. The
Spirit of God was alive in Old Testament days. But today? Not
When was the Spirit
of God really moving and operating
on earth? Way back 2,000 years ago during the time of Christ.
But today? Not really. We don’t see the Spirit of God so active
Like you, I am a
person who believes in the power of the Force. I am a person who
believes that the Force is not science fiction nor a legend from the
past. I am a person who believes that there is a
living, powerful, invisible Spirit and Spiritual Power that
is part of this earth. I believe that two thousand years go, this
Spiritual Power of God came on Jesus of Nazareth like on no other
person before or after. Jesus plugged into that power. Jesus knew
how to use that power. Jesus used that power to heal the sick and
drive out the demons, to help the blind see and the lame walk. Like
all people who have the Force on them, he used the power of God to
fight the power of evil.
And then, this same
Spirit, was given to his disciples. Those same disciples were given
that same spiritual power, that same spiritual energy, and they,
too, went about doing good and driving out the power of evil that
was all around them.
And that same Force
that was given to Jesus many years ago, and that same Force that was
given to the disciples, that same Force is given to your life and
mine. That power is given to the people of God throughout all of
history, and the people of God have done amazing things throughout
history because we have been anointed with that Spiritual Power. The
famous saints from all of history. The little insignificant saints
from throughout history. The famous Christian saints from our life
experience. The little insignificant saints who are part of our
lives. These people have all had this power and we are given this
It is impossible to
fight the power of evil in this world and in our lives without the
power of the Force. You cannot fight Darth Vader unless you know how
to use the light sword. And you need to know how to use the power of
the Force that makes the light sword work.
You cannot fight
alcoholism, you cannot fight the enormous demons called “world
starvation,” you cannot fight economic and political corruption
around the globe, you cannot fight the power of evil in your broken
marriage; you cannot fight any battle without the power of the
Force. If you don’t know how to use the power of the light sword;
if you do not know how to use the power of the Force, you are going
to lose the battle with the power of evil.
What is that Power
of God’s Spirit today? You can’t prove it. You can’t see it.
You can’t necessarily feel it. Yet you know that it is here among
us, the Spirit of God, the living Force that gives us strength and
wisdom and power and might.
Light sword? What
is the light sword? Christians don’t have one light sword; we have
a bag full of light swords, that resources of the Spirit of God. The
best light sword we have is love. Yes, the love of God, the love of
Jesus Christ, the love of the Spirit is the best light sword we
have. We have other lights swords in our Christian friends and
family. We have light swords in the Bible, in prayer, in right
relationships. In all of these, we need to learn how to use our
Yes, we have the
power of the Force. Yes, we know how to use the light swords.
But it also seems
to me that many people today have the form of religion but without
the Force. They have the old forms; they have the old ancient
rituals; they have the old ancient customs; they have the old
ancient liturgies; they have the old ancient hymns; they have all
the ancient forms of religion but without the Force. Of they have
the new modern liturgies, the new modern praise songs, the newest of
testimonies. They have the new forms, but without the Force. They
cannot figure out why their Christian lives have no power. They
cannot figure out why they are not interested in fighting the power
of evil in this world. They cannot figure out why they are the kind
of Christian whose primary goal in life is to create the good life
and the leisure life. They cannot figure out why their Christian
life has essentially no power.
The problem? It is
this. For many people,
they have taken the ancient form of religion but they never learned
about using the light sword. They never learned about the Force. For
them, the Force is confined to the Old Testament three thousand
years ago. For them, the Force is confined to Jesus of Nazareth.
Such lives do not have power.
It was a long time
ago that the power of God came upon Jesus of Nazareth, and Jesus of
Nazareth went about doing good and he helped people escape from the
bondage of evil…because, the Force was with him. A long time ago,
the Spirit of God came upon the early disciples and the disciples
went about doing good and helping people become free from the power
of evil. Why? Why did they do this? Why could they do this? Because
the power of the Force was with them.
And not so long
ago, God came upon your life and mine, and we went about doing good,
helping people to become free from the power of evil in their lives.
How did we do this? Through the power of the Force inside of us. You
see, it is not science fiction. You see, it is not religious