Spencer Jacobson

Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Belonging to a Story

Spencer Jacobson
Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Belonging to a Story

“You have no place in this story. You come from nothing. You are nothing.”

So says Kylo Ren to Rey, the heroine of the newest Star Wars trilogy. In the first film, The Force Awakens, Rey shows up as a complete mystery. Viewers have no idea where she came from, how she became such a gifted pilot or why she is able to use the force. Fans longed for all to be revealed in the sequel, and in the meantime, they had two years to theorize about just who Rey’s parents really were.

Kylo Ren, on the other hand, knows where he comes from. As the son of Han and Leia, named after the great Jedi Obi-Wan (Old Ben) Kenobi, student of Luke Skywalker and, lest we forget, the grandson of Darth Vader, he is certain about his place in the galaxy’s big story.

THE LONGING FOR A STORY

The revelation of Rey’s lineage was a surprise – and in some cases a disappointment - to many. After connecting through the force and having a series of telepathic conversations, Rey and series antagonist Kylo Ren meet face to face. Together, Kylo Ren and Rey overpower Supreme Leader Snoke’s Praetorian Guard, and Kylo Ren makes an appeal for her to join him.

Once Kylo Ren rids himself of his oppressive master Snoke and in his newfound autonomy, he invites Rey to join him in ruling the galaxy, ushering in a “New Order”. He knows that Rey is uncertain about her place in all of this: the Jedi, the force, the dark side and the light. Finally, he appeals to her through the truth about her parentage. Rey’s parents were nobodies. They sold her into indentured servitude. They were drunkards, gamblers, “buried in a pauper’s grave”. And, in Star Wars’ power economy, your lineage is everything. Knowing this, Kylo Ren calls out Rey’s heritage, her past.

“You have no place in this story. You come from nothing. You are nothing.”

After thinking about this exchange between these two characters nearly every day since seeing The Last Jedi, I realize how true Rey’s story is for every one of us. Rey is a nobody from nowhere (and Jakku really is nowhere!), trying to find her place in the great sprawling story of the force and the Skywalker family. 

SOMETHING IN US

As narrative people, we are all longing to be a part of a story, and certainly, there is no shortage of stories being offered to us. The false narratives of our time are appealing and not unlike the one that Kylo Ren offers Rey when he attempts to turn her to the dark side of the force. For some, the appeal of individualism is strong. We believe we ought to just do what feels right and craft our own story – one that puts us at the center and makes us feel good. Other disorienting stories like this one fight for control over us every day. Progressivism appeals to a hope that as time goes on, things will simply get better or easier. Consumerism makes all of us the sum of whatever we possess. Rationalism makes whatever seems reasonable to us as the arbiter of all truth in the uncertain and chaotic times we are living in. Some have even thrown their hands up, refusing to believe that there is a story to believe at all and in doing so live fully into the story of postmodernism.

The truth is, like Rey, we are all nobodies trying to figure out what story we ought to live into. We long to be fulfilled by these stories in different ways. Like Kylo Ren to Rey, each story offers us the great lie: “No one cares about you, but I do.” However, time and time again we see how these stories fail us.

A BETTER STORY

Yet, there is only one true story. It is the story about a man who, in the eyes of the rest of the world is a nobody. His mother was an impoverished teenager and his father a lowly carpenter. They did not come from any means. They were not important. He was born in a manger, surrounded by stinking animals and their waste.

As he grew, he became a popular teacher, though his authority undercut by gatekeepers who questioned his origin: “is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” (Mark 6:3). Jesus, the man who is God, a nobody from a place called Nazareth – where nobody worth anything ever came (John 1:46). Jesus, a man who was a nobody in the eyes of everyone, yet claimed to be a king (Luke 23:3).  Yet, this king does not ascend to a throne: he ushers his kingdom in from the cross.

And so, Jesus invites us, the true nobodies, to participate in the grandest story of all. Jesus takes you and I not just from nobody to somebody, but to adopted sons and daughters of the Father. Jesus invites us into the Kingdom and makes us kings and queens of the promise to our ancient ancestors. The true story is that God is reconciling this broken world to himself in the person and work of Jesus Christ – and we’ve been invited to take part (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

Brother, sister: you might be a nobody. You might come from nothing. You may even feel like nothing. But Christ in his power has filled in the valleys and leveled the mountains. He has given you a place in the great, true story.

Spencer Jacobson is a husband, father and Students Minister at The Village Church - Southlake Campus. His desire is to see the Gospel of Jesus revealed in all things. He enjoys pop culture and believes that the shadows it casts often point to the greater reality of Jesus's work.