The passion of sacrifice
Vulcans, despite their facade as purely rational beings, actually are intensely passionate creatures, as the fabric of fictional canon goes. They use a system of logic and self-discipline to control and suppress their carnal instincts, allowing them to function as individuals and as a society. But every seven years, the carnal proclivities rear their ugly head when Vulcan males go through the pon farr. On Vulcan, during Spock’s pon farr, before Kirk had to fight Spock to the death in a ritual known as kal-if-fee, he said, “If Spock wins, honor is satisfied.”
Ironically, when Spock’s time to die came years later, there was no way to beat his own Kobayashi Maru test without great personal cost — but he won in his selfless gesture on behalf of his friends, and honor truly was satisfied. Spock’s final words were, “Don’t grieve. It is logical,” reducing his choice in death to a mere matter of logic. But beneath that Vulcan thanatological veneer lay a passion that drove him to make the ultimate sacrifice for the friends he loved. This similarity to a much older story is one that is, we might say, fascinating.
Some of the other lines in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan pertaining to this theme of life and death were Kirk’s, “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life,” and McCoy’s, “You know, he’s not really dead, as long as we remember him.” Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was quoted several times throughout the film, the last one from Kirk, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, as the character of Spock matured, he remarked, “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” As Christians, we know that in fact, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10), and it was according to God’s wisdom and Christ’s obedience to that wisdom, that salvation for his people was accomplished.
The cinematic aphorism, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” did not originate with Spock, but with Caiaphas, the designated high priest and ex officio of the Sanhedrin in the year of Christ’s crucifixion. As the Jewish council was mulling over the unlawful prosecution of Jesus as an insurrectionist and criminal, “Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.‘ He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:49-52, emphasis added).
God commanded the Israelites, (Exodus 23:2) “You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice.” Christ’s trial violated Jewish law on many counts. Caiaphas’ moral moral rationale for his actions just to preserve the political status quo, was in direct opposition to the law.
What Caiaphas obviously saw as very logical, he unfortunately applied to the only Son of God. And in that grim prophecy by an unregenerate man — an enemy of the Cross and yet ironically was used as an instrument of the Cross — God’s concurrence of His righteousness with the wickedness of humanity was most profoundly demonstrated (Acts 2:23, 5:30-32).