You know how at the end of Return of the Jedi, after Luke sets the funeral pyre for his father, that amazing tribal music starts playing, and we see clips of the people of Bespin (where Cloud City is), Tatooine, Naboo, and Coruscant celebrating the Empire’s defeat with dancing and fireworks? Then we get back to Endor and see the Ewoks dancing and pounding on drums, treating Storm Trooper helmets like a xylophone? Han and Lando greet with a hug; C-3PO and R2 are dancing and beeping, respectively, in the crowd; Chewbacca hugs Lando, as well, and Luke joins the party, greeted with hugs from Leia and Han.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch this clip. (Even if you do know what I’m talking about, you should watch or listen to the clip anyway because it’s awesome.)
While I can’t say that Return of the Jedi is my favorite Star Wars movie—only because I love Empire Strikes Back just as much—I can definitely say that this part at the end, this celebration, is my favorite scene from the whole series (all seven movies—or four, if you refuse to count the prequels). There is so much joy in this scene: reunions, music, dancing, cheering. Finally, there is peace and happiness across the galaxy, for the common enemy has been defeated. Despite differences in race, gender, and beliefs, there is solidarity, and it’s beautiful.
And while it might be a strange comparison, this scene is kind of how I picture the Kingdom of Heaven, both now and when there is a new Heaven and Earth. I picture this connection based on the multitude of people, the hope that is finally fulfilled, and the fellowship these fighters get to experience with other members of the Rebel Alliance.
A Great Multitude from Every Nation
Don’t worry, I’m not going to start making crazy comparisons between this scene and Revelation. That’s just silly. Star Wars has some bizarre creatures, but it has nothing, nothing on the terrifying creatures that inhabit the Throne Room of God. (See Revelation 6:6–8; so many eyes!)
One comparison I will make, however, is the people. In Revelation 7:9–10, John (our author) describes the 144,000. He says,
[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]Despite differences in race, gender, and beliefs, there is solidarity, and it’s beautiful.[/pullquote]After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
In our Star Wars scene, we don’t get any dialogue, unless you count the constant cheering and something unintelligible that someone seems to be shouting in Coruscant. We do, however, have sound and imagery. We see thousands—nay, perhaps millions, considering the population of Coruscant—of people, and they’re all doing the same thing: cheering and celebrating. They’re not worshipping anything like the 144,000 are, but they are a united body, and their focus is on the present joy. Moreover, while we only see the celebrations on four planets, I believe it’s safe to say other planets are celebrating, too. If only we could see the celebrations on Corellia, Chandrila, Mon Calamari, and Bothawui!
The celebrating in this scene also reminds me of where it all began (for clarity, I’m talking about Episode IV: A New Hope). At the end of A New Hope, the Rebels destroy the Death Star, and they have “a new hope” of defeating the Empire. (Again, don’t worry; I’m not going to argue that Luke is some sort of Jesus figure, because he’s clearly not.) This new hope isn’t in a person; it’s an idea, a belief. It’s the kind of hope you feel when the snow melts and the temperatures start to rise: maybe after all this death and cold, there can be life and warmth again.
Even though this hope isn’t in a person, it’s still like the hope of the Gospel—a mustard seed that grows into the largest of trees. The Rebel Alliance starts off small and discouraged, but at the end, after a little hope, they are large and in charge. They have a goal, everyone has his/her unique role, and they see their goal through. The same can be said of the Body of Christ here on Earth—the earthly Kingdom of Heaven, if you will.
My favorite part of this scene, though, is its togetherness. Across the galaxy, everyone is celebrating together. There’s no time to mourn the dead right now because the enemy has been defeated. Joy outweighs grief. Right now, celebrating together, in fellowship with others, is the most important thing in the worlds.
And then there’s Luke. He walks away from the party in thought, and he sees Obi-Wan, Yoda, and his father (in newer editions, Hayden Christiansen—barf!). He grins widely, knowing that they’re always going to be there for him, but Leia comes over to bring him back to the party. Leia is present, enjoying time in fellowship with the people she loves most, and she is encouraging Luke to be present with the rest of the party, too.
While Leia is Luke’s biological sister, it’s important for our brothers and sisters in Christ to keep us grounded in present Truth, as well. Brothers and sisters remind us of what’s important in our walk with Christ, and being present in fellowship fits in that category. That’s how the Body of Christ works—that’s the Kingdom of Heaven.
But really, though…
When I zoom out of this scene, celebration is the key factor that sticks out. Similarly, when I think about Heaven, celebration comes to mind. Before I was a believer, I used to think Heaven would be customized and personal. My heaven had a beautiful ice rink and all the chocolate I could ever want. Now, however, my Heaven consists of one thing: Jesus, and celebrating His Lordship in reverent worship and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ—just like how we see everyone in the galaxy celebrating the defeat of the Empire in Return of the Jedi. There is a multitude, and our hope is fulfilled.
As sad as it is that we won’t have cute and cuddly Ewoks in Heaven, we will have Jesus, and His presence is worth the joy of infinite Ewoks. Indeed, the Force is strong with Him.