Star Trek III The Search For Spock (1984) QuadAs the second film, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, draws to a close, the crew of the Enterprise bid farewell to their beloved officer of science: Mr. Spock. In a final scene, Spock’s body is released from the starship to the bagpipes of “Amazing Grace.” He has died and has been laid in his tomb.

In the third film (the third of the eleven films in the franchise), the saddened crew return to Earth, only to realize that Bones, or Dr. McCoy, is going slightly crazy. It turns out that while Spock’s body was left on the new planet Genesis, all of his memories flooded into Bones. Bones is not himself, because Spock is occupying part of Bones’ mind.

Spock’s father, the respected Ambassador, requests that the Enterprise crew retrieve Spock’s body and bring it, along with Bones, to Vulcan. In the process, Spock’s memories will be reunited with his body. In order to achieve this, Kirk (William Shatnar) and the others must take the Enterprise without permission from the Federation. Their risk pays off, but not without encountering a Klingon Bird of Prey. The Klingon warrior Kruge (Christopher Lloyd) is on his own search; a search for the secret to Genesis. A secret that he believes will give him absolute power.

The crew of the Enterprise is still shaken by the sudden death of Spock. Mostly because he willingly gave his life to save them all.

Spock: The needs of the many outweigh the . . .
Kirk: The needs of the few.
Spock: Or the one.

The Christ-figure imagery continues in Search for Spock. As a science team (the main scientist being David, Kirk’s son) searches for life on Genesis, they discover Spock’s burial coffin in the forested, garden-like part of the planet. They open it and only find his burial robe. The scientists eventually find a small, Vulcan boy in the forest. The Vulcan scientists are quick to realize that this child is Spock. “He’s not himself, but he lives.”

New life. Resurrection.

This theme of new life continues in the film, as Kirk comes to terms with the knowledge that Spock is worth the risk. “The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many,” he says as he risks all to save Spock. Kirk embodies the shepherd in the parable that Jesus tells in Luke 15. The shepherd counts his sheep and notices that he only has 99 out of 100. He takes the chance of leaving the 99 behind to go in search of the 1. To the Holy One, every stray soul is worth searching for. And like Kirk’s, the search includes risks. Jesus’ parable of the shepherd in search of the lost sheep was a metaphor for what Jesus was doing at that moment to fulfill the Kingdom of God. In a post-resurrection context, we are the shepherd risking all we have to search for those who are lost.