Blinded by Pride/Seeing by Faith (Star Wars: Rebels S3 E1&2)

Star Wars Rebels is one of my favorite spin-offs from the Star Wars movies. I’m quite sad that the series came to an end last Monday, but I think it was wrapped up well and sets the stage for the next animated series. I’ll eventually write something about the series finale, but for this post I’ll be talking about an episode from season 3. I will be discussing the first two episodes of season 3, “Steps Into Shadow part 1 & 2” - since it’s a two-parter I’ll just consider it one big episode. At the start of season 3, we have quite a marked shift in character development for both Kanan and Ezra. At the end of season 2, Kanan gets blinded in a lightsaber fight and Ezra acquires a Sith holocron from a Sith temple. So season 3 starts off with blind Kanan and Ezra using the Sith holocron to gain darkside powers. This is when I feel the series started getting more serious and dealing with deeper concepts; it matured a lot starting with this season.

“Steps Into Shadow” opens with Ezra, Sabine, Zeb, and Chopper breaking into an imperial prison to release Hondo Ohnaka and his partner, Terba. What’s striking with this prison break is that Ezra has clearly grown more powerful with the Force. Towards the end of the prison break, we see Ezra pull a rather powerful and disturbing Force stunt. He basically mind controls a Stormtrooper in an AT-ST Walker to fire upon other Stormtroopers on a platform and then walk right off the edge of the platform. This isn’t your typical defensive Jedi move; it’s very much an offensive Sith move. Even Sabine says, “Did Kanan teach you that?” to which Ezra replies with a rather sinister look in his eyes, “No.” Even though Ezra is using the Sith holocron to become more powerful for the sake of protecting his friends, the power starts to get to his head and he becomes prideful. Even something that is seemingly good or that we have good intentions for, the devil can still distort it. “But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) 

Furthermore, Kanan has been fairly absent (as he copes with being blind), making Ezra angry and burdened because he feels it is his responsibility to take the lead on missions. Kanan’s absence leads Ezra to become indignant and so he focuses on proving his competence. Later in the episode, Ezra leads a recon mission to an imperial starfleet reclamation plant where it was rumored that they had a bunch of Y-Wings that the Rebellion could steal and use. However, the Empire is tipped off that the Rebels are coming and they start to destroy the Y-Wings. In a panic, Ezra turns the recon mission into a mission to steal the Y-Wings. He abuses his powers and commands the rest of the crew to follow his orders. Ezra thinks that the success of the mission is a reflection of his leadership and he is out to prove he can do it alone, without the help of Kanan. The truth is, we can never do anything alone. Even if we are seemingly alone, we still need the help of the Lord otherwise we will go astray, as we will see with Ezra.

Ezra becomes so focused on his mission that he becomes blind to actually helping his friends. Everyone is split up on the station and things aren’t working out. That’s what happens when the one who is leading is blinded by pride. “They are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14) Ezra is failing as a leader. However, he doesn’t acknowledge it and just pushes harder.

Ezra pulls a reckless move and cuts the power to the whole station, which is hovering in the sky, just to unlock the Y-Wings, but now the station starts to fall to the ground. Everyone but Ezra jumps in a Y-Wing to leave while he stays behind to get the Phantom (the Ghost’s short-range shuttle fighter). However, when he is on his way to the Phantom, it gets knocked off the station by falling debris and crashes to the ground. Ezra is stranded on the crashing station. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) Ezra’s situation is his own doing. In desperation, Ezra cries out “This is all wrong. Kanan where are you?” 

Earlier in the episode we see the following play out while Ezra and the team are out on the recon mission: 

Kanan is back at the Rebel base, Force meditating when he hears a voice call out to him. Kanan follows the call out into the wilderness. An important note, the planet is home to giant spiders that are kept from entering the base by a sensor device which emits a frequency they don’t like. Before walking out into the wilderness, Kanan grabs one of these sensors to protect himself. Kanan eventually finds out that the call comes from Bendu, a Force wielder, who is neither Sith nor Jedi but in the middle. 

Bendu tells Kanan that he was awakened by Kanan’s imbalance and that he carries conflict within himself. After showing Bendu the Sith holocron he found in Ezra’s room, he expresses his concern that it is corrupting Ezra. Yet Bendu says that an object cannot be evil, only the temptation of power and forbidden knowledge can. The power of knowledge was our original temptation and sin. As Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” In the next chapter of Genesis we see the serpent telling Eve that the tree’s fruit is good and that they will surely not die if they eat it. The serpent or devil makes them doubt God and tempts them to become just like God and gain the knowledge of good and evil by eating the tree’s fruit. Thus, the Fall of man. 

It’s so very true that things or even people are not inherently evil. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:13-14) Our fallen nature makes us weak to the temptations of the devil. The mix of these two are deadly! I’ll be honest, life in a fallen world completely sucks and is really hard. Thankfully, we aren’t left here to struggle alone and without hope.

Bendu further goes on to say to Kanan that, “only you can change yourself” and he replies, “not always.” Reading the sound of defeat or despair in Kanan’s voice, Bendu understands Kanan’s conflict and grabs the sensor and breaks it so he is no longer protected from the spiders (producing a trial Kanan will have to walk through). Perhaps you can relate to the sense of defeat Kanan feels...I know I can. Cynicism is an all too familiar tone to how I hear others (including myself at times) speak now-a-days. I don’t blame them when there’s so much wrong with the world and too much hurt for any one person to bear. Cynicism, an attitude of defeat and helplessness, is a hope-killer. Bendu says that Kanan must learn to see differently now...if he is willing. We must drop the cynicism filter on life and be willing to see things differently...more clearly. 

To restore Kanan’s ‘sight’ he must empty himself and be full of only the Force. Bendu tells Kanan to walk out where the spiders are and asks how he senses them. He says he can sense them through sound, vibrations, and smell. Very much how we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:17) We have to rely on other senses like the prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Truth of God’s word, or the wise counsel of others.

Bendu asks if they are near him and Kanan says no, yet one is right in front of him. He is blind to truly sensing it. Kanan doesn’t understand why the spiders aren’t attacking and Bendu says it’s not in their nature to. Kanan senses fear, yet it isn’t the spider’s fear, it’s his own. He realizes that fear, grief, and anger are how the spiders see’s how he sees himself. Surprisingly, if we think too lowly of ourselves, to the point of self-hatred, that is still prideful. The focus on our pain and mistakes enslaves us to a self-centered mindset, thus not seeing ourselves for who we truly. If we can’t love ourselves (as we are) than how can we truly love other people or even let other people love us? 

Kanan had closed off himself from others and the Force and in turn, became blind to himself. When we don’t have the support of a caring community or distance ourselves from the Truth we lose sight of who we truly are. Furthermore, when we are isolated it is far too easy to just believe the lies of the enemy. We need to see truth and not lies. “To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith.” (Acts 26:18) It’s hard to see our true selves when we believe lies or turn away from the truth. In Romans 12:3, Paul writes this, “I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” We must see ourselves as God sees us.

Bendu tells Kanan that when he can honestly see himself he will never truly be blind. Can we trust God to show us who we truly are and then believe Him when He speaks? If God told you that you are His child, what would that mean to you? If He said, “I made you, every part of you, I created you in my image.” Would that affect how you see yourself, your faults included? If you could see that God has set you free from every mistake and pain you’ve suffered, would you live in that freedom? Furthermore, if you heard that you are deeply and truly loved as you are, would you honestly believe it? So perhaps I’ll leave you with this question: How do you see yourself...honestly?

Back to Ezra on the crashing station calling out to Kanan:
Ezra cries out, “Kanan where are you?” Then suddenly, Kanan and Hera show up in the Ghost. Kanan opens the docking port and shouts, “Ezra I’m here!” Yet Ezra is worried that the jump from the crashing station to the ship is too far. Kanan tells him to go ahead and let go. Ezra jumps and Kanan (who is still very blind) grabs him and pulls him in to safety. I can’t help but think of the areas in my life where I need to just jump and trust God. He says that He is always there for us and that if we trust Him and lean into His will and not our own understanding, that He will be there to guide us. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

It’s imperative that we know how we see ourselves, because our actions flow out of our identities. If we think of ourselves more highly (or lowly) than we ought, we will be so focused on ourselves that we will lose sight of how our actions affect other people. Let us also not adopt an attitude of cynicism, but that of hope. Hope that our actions, however big or small, seen or unseen, matter. We may never see the effect our actions have on others, but if done in love and humility, I’d assume it would have a positive affect. "Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9) As we struggle to endure the pains of this fallen world and walk humbly with the Lord, may we hold hope for a future where all is made right again.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

As always, thanks for reading and may the Force be with you! ^_^