Darth Vader is one of my favorite villains. One of the reasons why I loved Star Wars growing up is because of Vader. He’s epic! But there’s a deep story with Darth Vader’s fall to the Dark Side of the Force, and his return back into the light. This post may be a little long, but that’s because I want to take the time to really look at why Darth Vader is a person who deserved a second chance, and how Jesus could have ended up exactly like him.
Now, before you stone me for heresy, please just read on, it’ll all make sense.
Let’s look at Vader first. Anakin Skywalker was a boy born with a destiny; to bring balance to the Force. He was a virgin birth to his mother, Shmi Skywalker, and was born into slavery on the planet Tatooine. He was later found by Jedi Knight Qui-Gon Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi. They took Anakin to be trained as a Jedi. But his forbidden love for Padmé, and the death of his mother by the hands of raiders, caused him stray from his path.
By the end of his journey, his circumstances, the death of his mother, the forbidden love of his wife and unborn children, and his anger towards the world and his mentor, Obi-Wan, all caused him to turn against the ways of the Jedi. He became Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith, and ruler of the Galaxy along side his master, the Emperor. Not to mention he became one of the most recognizable fictional villains in the history of storytelling.
Anakin faced a choice, and he chose the path of evil because it looked better to him. He was promised great power that he wouldn’t have had otherwise. This cause his life to spiral out of control and into a life of murder, genocide, and control.
Now let’s look at Jesus’ life. Jesus and Vader are kind of similar in many ways. They were both virgin births, they were both born into captivity (Jesus’ was the Roman occupation, not slavery, but captivity nonetheless), they both had a great destiny ahead of them and they knew it, they both had great power (albeit Jesus’ was divine, and Skywalker’s was from the Force), and they both had a moment where they had to choose the Light Side or the Dark Side.
Jesus was offered to rule the world by Satan. In that moment, Jesus had to make a choice. The cross, or the world? We know that Jesus fought off Satan’s temptations with the Word of God, and chose the cross. But what if He didn’t? What if He chose to accept Satan’s offer? What if Jesus turned on His back to the sins of the world and simply took the world for His own? Because He could have. What if Jesus had become Darth Vader?
Go back many thousands of years to the BC days, and look at some facts about Jesus’ life.
When Jesus was born, He was immediately marked for death. King Herod tried to have Him killed because he heard that a king of the Jews was about to be born, so he had all the male children in the land killed off. But Mary and Joseph saved their Son by bringing Him to Egypt. (Matthew 2)
Jesus grew up in a “broken home”. Don’t believe me? Think about this logically for the culture of the day. The only people who knew Jesus was the Son of God, and was brought into this world through immaculate conception were Mary, Joseph, and a few others. In everyone esle’s eyes, Jesus was born in sin. Either Joseph knocked Mary up before their wedding, or she was sleeping around. One way or the other, Jesus was a “love child”. His own brothers didn’t believe He was the Son of God until later in life. So, here we have this man, growing up knowing who He is, but to everyone else He was born from sin. (John 7:1-5)
Jesus also had great power. Remember, Jesus was the Son of God; He was 100% divine, but He was also born of flesh, so He 100% human as well. Jesus, through His Father and the Holy Spirit, could heal the sick, multiply food, cast out demons, control the weather, walk on water, turn water into wine, and even rise Himself and others from the dead! He was, through God, a very powerful man.
And next to all of that, Jesus was natural leader. God or not, He could draw a crowd. Thousands and thousands of people would come to hear Jesus speak. He had the ability to speak into people’s lives, and those people listened to Him. He was a great speaker and leader.
Now, when it came time for Jesus to begin His ministry, after getting baptized in the Jordan, Jesus went into the desert to be tempted by Satan. During that time He fasted. The Bible only shows us three of the temptations: turning rocks into bread, jumping off the Temple and calling on the angels to save Him, and He was offered the kingdoms of the world. (Matthew 4)
The temptation to eat was natural, it was because He was hungry. But let’s look at the other two temptations. When Satan took Jesus to the top of the Temple, and told him to jump, what was the temptation? To prove Himself! People had laughed at the love child of Mary and Joseph all His life. He was mocked, scorned, and disliked already (and this was before His ministry started), but remember, He had the Power of God in Him! He could have jumped from the Temple, and landed safely and prove to others that He was, in fact, divine! Why do I think this? Because the Temple is a very public place. People would have noticed a man jumping off and landing safely. He would have been seen as a man of great power…but Jesus resisted this temptation.
What about the other temptation? Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and said that if He bowed down to him, Jesus could have it all. Satan offered Jesus the world…literally. Jesus was faced with a choice, the cross or the world? We know Jesus chose the cross….
But what if He chose the world? What if Jesus turned to the Dark Side? What if He said yes to Satan’s offer?
Here’s a man who, through Joseph’s line (Matthew 1:1-17, Luke 3:23-38), was the lineage of David, King of Israel, giving Him royal blood and a right to the throne. He was a great speaker, He could influence people into rebellion and use His power to seize His goal. He could have said that He had natural and divine right to the throne of David. He could have lead an uprising against the king.
But why stop there? He could then rally armies against the Roman occupation and kicked them out of His land.
But why stop there? He was the Son of God after all! Can you not see a Jesus twisted by the life he had, twisted by the people who mocked and scorned Him, and the Son of God twisted by giving His life over to Satan and sin, turning around and taking over Rome? Which was, at the time, the most powerful nation on Earth? Jesus could have taken over and ruled the world (of course!), and had divine right to do so.
But He didn’t!
Jesus resisted this temptation as he resisted the rest, and took the cross for our sins. He conquered death, and gave us life. Jesus could have become a BC Darth Vader, a man with a great destiny corrupted by evil to rule the land.
Remember, Jesus was still human. He felt as we feel, He was tempted as we are tempted. Jesus didn’t want to die. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked for God to take the cup of the cross from Him. But He surrendered His will to that of His Father’s (Matthew 26:39). Jesus chose to lay down His life for us. He knew that His kingdom was not one of Earth, but one of eternal life (John 18:36); a kingdom that would never fall. Because of this, Jesus remained sin-free, and was able to be the sacrifice for our redemption.
Now let’s go back to Vader. Anikin Skywalker, did not choose the right path. When it came time to choose the Light or Dark Side. He let his horrible past, and his desire to prove himself, overcome him. He chose to take what he thought he deserved and became Darth Vader And he got exactly what he wanted…accept for his wife’s life, he still lost that. He went on to rule the galaxy. Corrupted by evil and hate, he grew to despise his life.
But there is good news in all of this. The story of Darth Vader, as told in Star Wars, ends with redemption. Darth Vader, later in his life was faced with another choice. Watch his son die, or save his life. Throughout his years as Darth Vader, both his wife, and his son recognized that there was still good in him. And in the end, with Luke calling for his help, Vader took redemption, returned to the Light Side of the Force, killed the Empror, and saved his son’s life. It cost him his own life, but his soul was saved.
What can we take from these two stories? The story of Darth Vader’s journey into evil, and Jesus’ refusal to? We can take this: we will always have a second chance!
Let me say that again, we will always have a second chance!
God never leaves us without a chance to return to Him, no matter how good or evil we are. I mean, Vader slaughtered hundreds of children in cold blood, killed his own wife, blew up planets, killed men with his Force Choke (except for that one guy that made Vader so mad he choked him with his bare hands…yeah, I wouldn’t want to be that guy), and other disgusting things.
This guy got Vader so mad that he choked him with his bare hands! Dang...I'd hate to be him.
But in one moment, he was redeemed from a life of evil. Anakin Skywalker found redemption!
And we have the same thing. No matter who we are, what state of life we’re in, or what we’ve done, Jesus’ blood has saved us from death and destruction. We just have to choose to accept it. Through Christ, we all can receive a second chance.
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I’m have partnered myself with People of the Second Chance and their Never Beyond Poster Series. They will feature 25 posters representing well known historical, current, and fictional characters who are believed to have harmed society. The campaign draws out themes of forgiveness, grace, and what a pathway to a second chance looks like.
To see my last post for the Never Beyond Series, click here: Mike Tyson