“For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” -Luke 15:24
America is in a desperate state. Violence and riots have only escalated an already stressful pandemic. Patience is running thin and unity is scarce to be found. Something has to shift. The divide between the political parties is more pronounced than ever. This dividing line often seems to run right through the generations as well. What if unity is just over the horizon? What if God is about to move in such a radical way that walls of hostility come crumbling down on the right and the left? Could this really be done? Could God really heal the major disconnect between the generations?
Last week, I shared the first part of a revelation I received when I watched Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. I am delighted to reveal part two: The Prodigals are Coming Home! What do I mean by “prodigal?” This is a reference to the story Jesus told about a lost son (Luke 15:11-32). It refers to a son who demands an inheritance from his father while he is still living. Then he moves away and squanders his wealth on wild living, becoming poor and helpless. When he realizes his mistakes, he humbly returns to his father. The father, completely overjoyed that his son has come home, runs to meet him. He dresses him in fine clothes and throws a party in his honor. It’s a beautiful story of the lavish grace and compassion our Father God has on each one of us who humbly comes to him. Psalm 103:8 says that, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
As I watched The Rise of Skywalker, it became clear to me that Kylo Ren represents this Prodigal son. Even more than just the son in this story, he also personifies a Prodigal generation. The Prodigal generation are those who are lost and walking in darkness. They are hurt and angry, without the light of Christ in their lives. Although there are often exceptions to the rule, these Prodigals consist of mostly the younger generations. They are those in their teens, 20s and 30s who have abandoned faith in Christ and have instead walked in the darkness of the world. They make up most of those who are violently rioting in the streets. They are broken and their pain consumes them. The enemy has taken full advantage of this and has manipulated their emotions, driving them to a path of destruction. These are the “Kylo Rens,” and his story sheds light on what this generation faces and what God has planned for them next.
As the movie opens, Kylo Ren is “determined to destroy any threat to his power” (Lucasfilm). Hungry for more power and control, being Supreme Leader of the First Order is not enough for him. Palpatine tempts him by vowing to give him “everything,” making him emperor of a whole new empire, in exchange for killing Rey and the Jedi. Palpatine succeeds in gaining Kylo Ren’s allegiance, pitting him against Rey and the Jedi. Idolizing his evil grandfather’s legacy (Darth Vader), he is addicted to evil power. He becomes an advocate for the lies and false prophecies perpetrated by Palpatine. In a heated battle between the forces of good and evil, Kylo Ren comes head-to-head with Rey on Pasaana, though Rey and her friends manage to escape his grasp. In much the same way, the Prodigals have been on a social war path against the Righteous Remnant (who is the purified Bride of Christ). They are fighting for power and control, believing the lies and false prophecies of the enemy. They want to take over the nation, destroying the principles of this Remnant of believers in Jesus. Becoming social justice warriors on social media has not been enough for the Prodigals… they have now taken to violence in the streets. Looting, burning and screaming demands, they have sought to overtake all who oppose them.
There is more to the story though. These Prodigals are not just merciless monsters who seek to destroy faith and democracy. They are tormented in their souls, just as Kylo Ren is. He is constantly plagued by the fact that he killed his own father (Han Solo). His broken helmet is fused back together in red lines, putting the cracks on full display. These cracks symbolize his own hurting and broken soul, which Rey points out to him. His brokenness made him an easy target for the enemy to manipulate. The truth is, these Prodigals are also incredibly broken. It’s plainly obvious to see. Their hearts are bleeding on their sleeves. The Righteous Remnant can see this easily. Many of them have come from broken homes and do not have fathers present in their lives. Many others have faced abuse while growing up and found no hope in God or the church, so they went their own way. The enemy has taken advantage of their brokenness, using them to carry out his own evil plans.
The intensity increases when Kylo Ren confronts Rey inside the wreckage of the Death Star. He tries to lure her to join him on the dark side, tempting her with the special power of their potential union. Seeking to control her, he reveals her true identity as a Palpatine and tries to force her to go with him to Exegol by breaking the wayfinder. This leads to an extremely fierce battle similar to the spiritual battle our country is currently in. The Prodigals are trying to control all who oppose them. They are tempting the Remnant with the lies and false prophecies they have believed. Their tactics attempt to force others into compliance with their agenda through mockery, shaming and violence. The fight between the two sides is tense and stressful.
In the midst of the Death Star battle, Kylo Ren’s mother (Leia) feels she must lay down her life in order for her son to be saved. (Now on a side note, I am strongly opposed to suicide and wish they would have chosen another way to depict this sacrifice, but I did not write the script.) As Leia calls out to her son through the Force, Kylo Ren hears her, providing a chance for Rey to defeat him. Compelled by love and compassion, Rey chooses to heal Kylo Ren, while confessing her love for him. What an amazing picture of love for these Prodigals! Many mothers have longed to hold their Prodigal children! Whether they are actual parents or spiritual parents, Leia represents those, especially mothers, who have prayed and wept over their Prodigal children. Crying out to God, they have asked for their sons and daughters to return to faith in Jesus and physically come home. Their prayers are the game changer! Their sacrifice of love is making the difference! Even though the Righteous Remnant will overcome the attacks they’ve received from these Prodigals, they will also help lead them to salvation and healing. The Remnant will have compassion on their enemies.
The real turning point comes as Kylo Ren has a sudden and mysterious encounter with the memory of his father. Han Solo comes toward his son, telling him he misses him. Kylo Ren, emotionally struggling to hang onto his broken identity, asserts that Han’s son (Ben Solo) is dead. His father, coming closer, confidently disagrees with him: “No, Kylo Ren is dead. My son is alive” (Lucasfilm). Troubled and full of pain, Kylo Ren tries to dismiss his father. Out of love, Han Solo invites his son to come home. Kylo Ren resists. He has given up hope of ever returning to his mother, sensing and knowing she has passed away. Full of hope, his father persists that “what she stood for, what she fought for” is “not gone” (Lucasfilm). Calling out Kylo Ren’s true identity, his father calls him “Ben.” In a tense moment of decision, Kylo Ren confesses he knows what he has to do, but he is not sure if he has the strength to do it. His father shows him unconditional love and affirms his strength. At this moment, something shifts inside of Kylo Ren. Calling his father “Dad,” he struggles to express the remorse in his heart for what he has done. His Dad, understanding the unsaid, receives his unspoken apology. Completely transformed by this loving encounter, Kylo Ren throws his Sith saber and false identity into the sea, while embracing his true self as Ben Solo.
Just as Kylo Ren was transformed by the the love of his father, these Prodigals are about to be radically changed by the love of their Father in heaven. The Father God is about to come near to them, longing for and urging them to come home to him. The Prodigals are struggling to cling onto their broken identities that the enemy has given them, but the Father will be persistent and affectionate in his love for them. Even though they feel they are too far gone to be saved, the Father has full assurance that Jesus’ blood is more than enough to cover their multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). The Father will call out their true God-given identities. Their hearts will be fully repentant, and the Father will see even what they cannot express in words. As these Prodigals wrestle for a moment in the valley of decision, they will find the strength from God’s pure love to throw away and completely abandon their false identities into the sea of forgetfulness (Micah 7:19).
Racing to catch up to Rey, Ben Solo finds his way to Exegol to join in the fight against Palpatine. Though it’s been many years since he operated in the Force, he stands alongside Rey as a Jedi with passion and determination. Together in unity, they battle as one in the Force, with their power being unseen for generations. Their enemy presses in fiercely to destroy them, especially since Ben is the last Skywalker. Though Ben is thrown over the edge, leaving Rey to overcome Palpatine alone, he refuses to give up and climbs his way back to her. Showing his true love for a lifeless Rey, he gives his own life for hers, and kisses her before he disappears. However, this scene is more than just an epic or sappy love ending to the movie. It demonstrates the incredible love and sacrifice these Prodigals will give for the Righteous Remnant. Though they will be newly saved and novices with the gifts of the Spirit, they will jump right into the spiritual battle against the enemy. The unity in the Body of Christ between the refined Remnant and the new sons and daughters of God, will be a powerful force to be reckoned with like the world has never seen! Together, they will overcome every plan and purpose of the enemy by demonstrating their pure love for God and for one another. These Prodigals, having experienced such an extreme awakening from darkness to light, will even be willing to physically lay their lives down for the cause of Christ and the church. Their love will impact generations!
Amazingly, not only will these Prodigals be transformed by the love of our Father in heaven, but many will also be reconciled to their earthly fathers. In this hour, God has purposed to heal and restore families. A promise from Malachi 4:6 says that God “will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” Get ready for these Prodigals to literally come home by the masses! Many will be unconventional and rough around the edges, but their hearts will be beautiful! Mothers and fathers will experience healing in their relationships with their sons and daughters who have been lost. God will miraculously restore the lost and stolen years to these families (Joel 2:25). Watch and wait expectantly for the Prodigals to come home, just as the compassionate father did in Luke 15:20. Can you see them from a long way off? They’re on their way!
*photo credit: Disney, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Se Estrena, Atresmedia, Madrid, 19 June 2020, accessed 3 August 2020, <https://www.antena3.com/se-estrena/noticias/tuvieron-culpa-dura-critica-adam-driver-sus-padres-star-wars_202006195eec75c111f0df00017078b3.html>.