When The Empire Strikes Back hit movie screens in 1980, Yoda mania swept the nation. Don’t believe me? No less an authority than People magazine said so! I certainly remember how hard it was to find the Yoda action figure; toy stores couldn’t keep the little green guy in stock.
Makes me want to add him to my Christmas wish list all over again, 34 years later!
What makes Yoda so compelling? He’s more than an incredible piece of moviemakers’ magic. He’s also one of the most winsome embodiments of wisdom ever seen on screen.
Wisdom isn’t about being smart—though I don’t doubt Yoda’s IQ rivals his reportedly high midi-chlorian count. It’s about knowing what really matters in life, and devoting yourself to it.
For centuries, Yoda has devoted himself to the Force. He calls it his ally, ”and a powerful ally it is.” By aligning himself with the Force, Yoda achieves insight into the order underlying a chaotic universe. As a result, he can transcend limitations others find insurmountable, and can teach others to do the same.
Christians, too, believe in a powerful force that “surrounds us and binds us,” but not the impersonal Force of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. We believe in the Word of God, through whom all things came into being, in whom all things hold together, and for whom all things exist (John 1.3; Colossians 1.17). We seek to devote ourselves to and ally ourselves with the Word—but we can only because the Word has allied himself with and devoted himself to us (John 1.14). Jesus Christ “became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1.30).
Because Christ, God’s Wisdom, is our powerful ally, we can transcend insurmountable limitations—perhaps not fully, but in the sure and certain hope of one day doing so, “for [we] have died, and our life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is [our] life is revealed, then [we] also will be revealed with him in glory” (Colossians 3.3-4).
Yoda’s a wise teacher, but even if Luke had been a better student on Dagobah, Yoda could only have taught him so much. Jesus can truly teach the way to salvation, the way of wisdom, because he is that Way himself (John 14.6).
coming forth from the mouth of the Most High,
pervading and permeating all creation,
you order all things with strength and gentleness:
Come now and teach us the way to salvation.
Come, Lord Jesus!
Scripture quotations from the New Revised Standard Version. Antiphon texts from Book of Common Worship, © 1993 Westminster/John Knox Press.