By Jared Wellman
Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, you recognize its characters. And those fictional individuals point us to some deeper, biblical truths.
Darth Vader is the most notorious person in the Star Wars universe, but he didn’t start this way.
He was once Anakin Skywalker, an inconsequential child from an unassuming planet. Yet Anakin would become the primary figure in the galaxy’s story.
Conceived through miraculous measures, Anakin was the fulfillment of a prophecy to destroy evil and save the galaxy.
But Anakin failed. Tempted by power, he joined evil instead of destroying it.
This gives us a reverse-image of the Christmas story—a supernaturally-conceived son from an obscure town was prophesied to save the world but left it in darkness instead.
Still Anakin’s life resembles a biblical story: the life Samson, the infamous judge of Israel.
Like Anakin, Samson was a mighty warrior with a supernatural element to his conception.
The biblical strongman was even prophesied to bring salvation to his people: “you will conceive and give birth to a son … and he will begin to save Israel” (Judges 13:3, 5).
But, also like Anakin, Samson struggled to realize his calling.
God called Samson to be a Nazarite, a lifestyle which entailed abstaining from alcohol, corpses, and haircuts, measures which showed that one was set apart from the world and unto God (Numbers 6:1-21).
Tempted by power, however, Samson would break every element of his Nazarite vow, leading to his humiliation and death.
Samson’s story is also the reverse-image of Christmas, but this might very well be the point.
Samson’s father’s name is Manoah, which is all but the same name as “Noah,” the key figure in the flood narrative (Genesis 6-9).
Noah alone found favor after God saw the wickedness of men, wickedness which had spread like wildfire in the aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sin in Eden.
God planted the first humans in a paradise garden and commanded them not to eat from it in a forbidden way.
But they ignored God’s command and ushered in sin. The result was shame and nakedness.
The flood narrative is a type of re-creation story, mimicking Genesis’ creation narrative in several ways: darkness (1:2; 7:17); dry land (1:10; 8:5); vegetation (1:11; 8:11); and God’s command to Noah to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:28; 9:1).
But upon leaving the ark, Noah committed the same sin as Adam: He planted a vineyard, partook of it in a forbidden way, and was left naked and ashamed (Genesis 9:20-28).
Fast-forward to Samson, who also went to a vineyard and is confronted with forbidden food (Judges 16:21-25).
It’s as if the text is harkening back to Adam and Noah’s failures, hoping that Samson, this miraculously conceived, mighty and holy son, would have the power to withstand temptation and save Israel.
But Samson commits the same sins as his ancestors and leaves the world hopeless once again.
But there is one more parallel between Anakin and Samson, and it’s one that illustrates a great deal of hope for the fictional world of Star Wars and our very real world.
While Anakin is becoming Darth Vader, his wife is birthing a son who would become the “new hope” for the galaxy.
This son, Luke Skywalker, would be tempted by the power of darkness, but unlike his father, he would prevail and save the galaxy.
Likewise, Samson is the son who failed, but there is another Son after him who would withstand temptation and save the world.
Isaiah would prophesy about this Son:
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness … For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:2, 6
These words were fulfilled when Mary, a virgin, miraculously conceived Jesus in her womb and gave birth to Him in an unassuming town.
This Son would do what Samson failed to do, as the angel told Joseph, Mary “will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Unlike Samson and Anakin, Jesus did not come as a mighty warrior full of earthly power.
Yet He won the greatest victory, defeating sin, death and Satan by becoming a mild and meek human, succumbing to death on a cross, and rising from the grave.
That’s the story of the first Christmas long, long ago, which brought peace to a galaxy not so far away.