Empire Strikes Back is such a freakin good movie.
And with it being such a good movie and all, it has a lot it can teach us. Not just like, life lessons, but meaty Biblical truths can be seen all throughout the film.
For example, I could talk about how sometimes the world is like a Wampa. It clubs you over the head, kills your Tauntaun, hangs you upside down, and only the Force can set you free.
I could talk about going through life feeling as if your faith is frozen in carbonite. You are neither hot, nor cold, but frozen-in-carbonite-lukewarm with a bounty on your head.
Don’t even get me started on what I could say about Luke’s training on Dagobah! AMIRIGHT?!?!?
What I wanted to talk about today, however, is one of the most iconic moments from Empire, or for that matter, cinematic history. It is the 5 second exchange between Han and Leia right before he is frozen and hauled off to Jabba the Hutt.
Leia looks at Han and says, “I love you.” Han looks back and simply replies, “I know.”
The dude is cocky, but I never took this line as coming from that cocky side of the character. This is a guy who never wants to be told the odds, and yet, in that moment, he knows the odds don’t look good, and he realizes he may never see Leia again. Leia knows this as well, and their unspoken love up until this point now must be spoken. It could be the last chance both of them get to tell each other how they feel. This previously unspoken love is the type of love that I have for my wife when at 3:00AM the baby wakes up, and I pat her on the back as if to say, “I love you.” She always pats me back, and I take it as her saying, “I know.”
We just know.
We don’t have to say it, because we realized pretty early on that true love exists not just in the spoken word, but in all sorts of forms.
True love often manifests itself as weeping, bro hugs, puppy licks, and even bagged lunches.
Sometimes it manifests itself in the quiet confidence of an, “I know.”
As I was thinking about this scene, it brought to my mind another small exchange that speaks volumes and volumes of love.
Peter and Jesus are walking on a beach together (sounds like the start of a joke?). Jesus has just finished cooking breakfast (Fish? For breakfast?), and He pulls Peter aside to have a discussion with him.
Imagine you are Peter right now. You just denied Jesus 3 times (like he said you would) and now he wants to have a little “chat.” It is that same dreadful moment that everyone who has ever been in a relationship fears; “Peter, we need to talk.”
Jesus asks, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Peter’s response is a resounding yes, and yet Jesus asks again.
“Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter once again responds with a yes, a little caught off guard by Jesus asking a second time.
“The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?'”
“Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
You have to know.
You have to know, because my heart is broken at what I did. You said I would deny you, and if you knew that, then you have to know that I love you and that I am sorry. If you don’t know, then I am undone…
Jesus did know.
He knows all things, and He definitely knew that Peter loved Him.
I think Jesus asks not because he doesn’t know, but because Peter needed to be reminded that even a thrice denial couldn’t ruin their relationship.
Imagine the grief and the guilt that Peter was feeling after having denied Jesus three times. It is sort of like when my mom would remind me 20 times to take out the trash, and I would say, “Stop repeating that! I know!” She would respond prophetically, “I am repeating it, because I know you are going to forget, Heath.” And guess what I did every time.
Peter needed to be reminded that Jesus’ forgiveness was not just for lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, and Pharisees. His forgiveness stretches across all personality types, and is even available for downtrodden screw-up disciples like Peter.
Jesus knew that Peter had a sin problem, but Jesus also knew that he had Peters sin problem covered, just as He has ours covered as well.
Jesus’ death and resurrection is a promise that every time we tell God that we love Him, he will always respond with, “I know.”
It doesn’t need to be spoken, because we are that close, and the joy of it all is that even after we have denied Him, abused His grace, and disrespected Him, when we return in repentance He still knows.
We are so united to Him through Christ, that there is an endless stream of love that constantly flows uninterrupted. We have gone through so much together, that at 3:00am in the morning when the baby wakes my wife and I up, He is right there with us patting us on the back.
Jesus and Peter end their DTR, and we learn that eventually Peter will end up dying for this same Jesus that he had earlier in his life denied. He leaves that beach realizing that nothing can separate him from the love of Christ.
The love of Jesus is brighter than the sun, and on that beach, Peter walks away with a permanent spiritual tan.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You are loved by Jesus with an everlasting love that is so real it doesn’t need to be spoken. It is the type of love that melts carbonite frozen hearts, guts out Tauntauns, and puts up with your stubbornness during training.
He loves you.
Do you know?