And I listen for the voice inside my head. Nothin’… I’ll do this one myself

– Pearl Jam, “State of Love and Trust”

This write-up is filled with spoilers…

“I have been every voice you have ever heard inside your head,” utters Emperor Palpatine as Kylo Ren approaches him in an attempt to prevent him from usurping his position as the ultimate ruler of the First Order. What an apt depiction of how the Law works: a storm of self-incriminating voices tortures us until the Holy Spirit intercedes, pronouncing words of grace. The voice of the law always accuses and haunts us with its imperative that we work to justify ourselves. Hence the competing voices in Kylo Ren’s head, telling him to complete his identity by finishing Darth Vader’s legacy. Hence the voices in my head demanding that I be “this” or do “that” in order to have significance and worth.

In The Rise of Skywalker, Palpatine offers Kylo authority over the entire universe…if he does the Emperor’s bidding. The law always works by way of condition: “if you do this, you will get that.” By contrast, the gospel is always a declarative word reminding us what we already have. In other words, we don’t have to work to attain an identity — Jesus worked to give us His. We die and are resurrected by this grace.

Through a deft move and innovative use of the force, General Leia puts Kylo Ren to death as her apprentice; subsequently, Rey resurrects “Ben” (incidentally the Hebrew word for “son”…as in Ben Solo, the only son). A brief hallucination of Han Solo appears and we revisit the tragic moment from The Force Awakens when Kylo Ren slays his father. The apparition of Han walks Ben through a reiteration of that moment, yet reverses the direction of Kylo’s actions. Ben’s redemption is completed…by a better “voice” in his head: the memory of his Father. Similarly, the Father’s voice redeems us. Upon being resurrected, Ben tosses his weapon (it’s not insignificant that its self-made…and therefore clunky) into the sea, alluding to St Paul’s proclamation that “our old man was buried with Christ through baptism into death.”

In the final act of the film, Rey is at one of her lowest points having been decommissioned by Palpatine’s bolts of sith energy. She is in essence “dead,” but she is brought to life by a symphony of better voices: the souls of departed Jedi masters who remind her of the innate potential inculcated in her.

Likewise, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” that we might “run with endurance the race set before us” — i.e. believe the gospel. But the witnesses who precede us do not cheer us on or appeal to our internal resolve or some reserve of our inherent strength. Neither do they inspire us to somehow do allegedly great things for the kingdom of God…as though we were central to the grand narrative. The cloud of witnesses who surround us point us to Christ, who is at the center of all Scripture and the hero of the story.

In this last chapter of the Skywalker dynasty, Rey is revealed to be the heir of Palpatine and the anticipated Empress of what he dubs The Final Order (the plot holes abound in this film, btw). In Christianity, God sent His Only Son, the Seed of the Woman, to crush the head of the serpent, silence the voice of accusation, and restore order to the galaxy…and bring balance to the force. It is Finished.