The press kit for Star Wars: Rogue One was recently released. It contained character names and brief descriptions of the new characters. It should not be a surprise but every news article reporting this press release is filled with negativity in the comments. Unfortunately, Star Wars fans have a long history about being upset with what they are a fan of. This all started in 1997 when Star Wars was re-released to theaters in the special edition format. The special edition added in a lot of digital effects, returned deleted scenes, and altered other scenes. Even though the special editions came out seventeen years ago, some of the changes made are still a source of bitterness for some fans. They did not like the idea of one of their favorite movies being messed with. What is interesting, is that this was not the first time the original Star Wars was changed. One of the things the Star Wars movies are best known for is the opening title crawl. The original Star Wars begins with
A New Hope
Except it did not always. In 1977, the subtitle Episode IV A New Hope was not part of the movie. It was only added after the sequel was confirmed and recorded. In 1981 the original Star Wars was re-released in theaters during Spring break, and it was for this re-release that “Episode IV- A New Hope” was added. In the scope of the whole Star Wars story, this subtitle is a very telling title that kind of gives a lot away.
The initial set up of the first Star Wars is that Princess Leia is trying to recruit Obi-Wan Kenobi, an old Jedi knight, to join with the rebellion. She even says that Obi-Wan is her only hope. Of course if that were true, the movie title would be Episode IV an Old Hope. On the off chance you have not seen Star Wars then spoiler alert, but Luke Skywalker is the one who turns out to be the new hope. Princess Leia had put her hope in the wrong person! Her hope was placed in the past, and not in the future. It is probably because I have spent too much time of my life watching Star Wars movies, but I see a connection between Star Wars and a very well-known passage of scripture.
In the gospel of Luke there is the story about the walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). In this story after Jesus was resurrected he appeared to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus, and explained to them how Jesus was the messiah and all that happened had to happen. Jesus, who through some sort of divine intervention (or Jedi mind trick perhaps), remained unknown to these two. He must have found their lack of faith disturbing, because Jesus rebukes them. Jesus explains how the two travelers like Princess Leia, had put their hope in the wrong place. They were hoping for a Messiah who would restore Israel as an earthly kingdom. They were stuck chasing an old hope, a hope for former glories restored. This old hope had blinded them to what was revealed in the scripture about the Messiah. The Messiah was not just a new temporal king, but the person who would reunite God with his people, who would deal with the problem of sin once and for all, and who would usher in the beginnings of a new age. The two on the road to Emmaus had put wrongly put their hopes in a messiah that could die and missed that they needed to put their hope in a messiah that was risen. At the end of the story, their hearts were burning with in them because Jesus had given them a reason to have a new hope.
Perhaps it is best if we define hope. The dictionary very coldly defines hope as the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best”. Hope is more than a simple feeling though isn’t it? Hope is something we feel deep in our heart. Hope cannot be explained, and hope cannot be rationalized. Hope is something experienced. To be human, is to have hope. However, we sometimes put our hope in the wrong things. We are so quick to put our hopes in things that will not last, that will not make it. We put our hopes in big dreams, we put our hopes in the right someone, we put our hopes in money, and we put our hopes in our big break. How many people have poured their lives into their jobs only to find that the number of hours clocked in does not equal happiness? How many people have slid into depression because they never seem to find Mr. right? How many people spend a dollar they really should not be spending on a lottery ticket that is a bust again?
We need a new hope, and that is what Jesus offers us. On the road to Emmaus Jesus explained the reason for hope is that God so loved the world that he sent his only son. That through the sacrifice of that son, the wrath of God was satisfied and the debt of sin was forever paid. That through the resurrection death had been defeated, and that those found right with God would live forever. Even better, this messiah, in whom we can place all of our hope is coming back to rule a kingdom without end.
What do you put your hope in? If today you are feeling at the end of your rope, out of options, or just generally hopeless then may you find hope again in the risen Lord. May you be be like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. May you be able to say your hearts burn within you, because your heart is full of a hope that can only come from knowing Christ. May your prayer be “help me Jesus Christ, you are my only hope.”