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Into the Asteroid Field, On to the Cross

March 4, 2012

“You’re not actually going IN to an asteroid field?!”

It’s a pivotal moment in The Empire Strikes Back.  The Battle of Hoth has ended and, unless you’re a fan of evil dudes in mechanical walkers, it hasn’t ended well.  Han, Chewy, Leia, and C-3PO have made their escape, fleeing aboard the Millennium Falcon.  They’re about to make the jump into hyperspace.  Problem solved.  Except, the Falcon being the Falcon, the hyperdrive is broken.  Worse, they’re on the verge of entering an asteroid field.  Where others see disaster, Han sees salvation.

Leia’s observation springs from the gut knowledge that if you’re running from the Empire after losing a major engagement on a frozen planet, the obvious way to go from bad to worse is to rush headlong into an asteroid field.  C-3PO offers confirmation in typically prissy fashion: “Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3,720 to 1.”

Han’s response to Leia: “They’d be crazy to follow us, wouldn’t they?”

His response to C-3PO: “Never tell me the odds.”

“And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”

It’s a pivotal moment in Mark’s Gospel (8:31-38).  Peter has just made his inspired confession that Jesus is the Messiah.  Peter and his friends have finally found the one who will lead them to escape.  The evil Empire will be routed, or at least bypassed with ease on an apocalyptic spaceship.  Things are looking up for those who are on board with the Messiah.

Except a funny thing happens.  With Peter’s confession still hanging in the air, Jesus tells them what it means.  That he must face the force of the Empire in Jerusalem.  That he will suffer, be rejected by the religious authorities, tried by the governing powers, and be put to death.  To which we can only say: You’re not actually going in there?!  And then Jesus invites us to pick up our crosses and follow him?  We’d have to be crazy to follow him.

Where Peter sees disaster, Jesus sees salvation.  He knows that as the one who has come to proclaim forgiveness he is called to do so to the hilt.  To turn toward the powers of this world – religious, political, you name it – and speak God’s Word of grace and mercy even though he knows it will cost him his life.  And then he’ll walk out of the tomb three days later and do it some more, even forgiving them – forgiving us ­– for putting him to death!  Jesus gives in to the forces of sin, death, and evil so that they may be conquered through forgiveness, resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit.

We want a Messiah who will fly us around the dangers of this life.  We need a Messiah who will rush into them headlong, giving himself up to their power, that they might no longer have power over us.  Crazy?  We’d have to be crazy not to follow him.

Look to Christ’s cross.  Take up your own.  Oh, and don’t worry about the odds.  The fix is in, and its name is grace.

“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”  Romans 8:35.

This post is an adaptation of  a sermon preached by the author at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Pawleys Island, SC, on March 4, 2012.

From → Lent/Easter

One Comment
  1. joanwitt permalink

    Excellent analogy. Love it, Had I lived 2000 years ago I probably would have said “You’re not going in there are you?”

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