Although I do not watch much secular TV these days, I do enjoy the movies and TV shows in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – with the exception of the Netflix produced shows (such as Daredevil and Jessica Jones) due to their extreme levels of violence and/or sexual content. One of the Marvel TV shows which I enjoy watching is Agents of SHIELD, the third season finale of which contained a beautifully done reference to Jesus’ death on the cross. In writing this post, I will try to be as vague as possible about what happens, so has not to spoil anything for anyone may want to watch this episode at a later date.
…reminding us of Jesus’ sacrifice.
There was already a strong Christian element, with the previous episode being titled ‘Absolution’ (release from guilt) and the final episode of the season being called ‘Ascension’. As the episode drew to a close, one of the SHIELD team was in space, preparing to sacrifice themselves in order to save the world (don’t ask – it’s far too much to explain here!) Meanwhile, on Earth, another member of the SHIELD team remarked, [He/she’s paying for my mistakes”. To which another SHIELD team member, who’s actions had more directly led to the danger the world was now in, replied, “He/she’s paying for all our mistakes”. At this point the person in space opened their hand and a necklace with a cross floated across the screen, reminding us of Jesus’ sacrifice to pay for all of our mistakes.
The simple truth is that Jesus’ sacrifice was totally sufficient.
All of those mistakes that you have made, all of those things that you feel guilty about, all of those things that you could have done better – Jesus has already paid the price for all of them. Once you have repented and received his forgiveness it is over and done with. Very often we feel that it can’t be that easy, that we must have to do something – probably we should at least feel guilty for awhile before we repent and receive forgiveness. This need to do something ourselves to remove the guilt of sin is where the idea of purgatory came from. The idea that somehow, after death, a Christian could ‘work off’ or ‘pay for’ the things that they had done wrong. But the simple truth is that Jesus’ sacrifice was totally sufficient. That sacrifice paid the price for every sin, every mistake that you could possibly make. It wasn’t a case of God saying, “Now look, Jesus’ death on cross has done 90% of the work, but if you want your guilt and shame totally removed, you are going to have to put some effort in. You’re going to have to do that final 10% yourself“. No, Jesus death on the cross didn’t do 90% of the work, or even 99% of the work, it did 100% of the work. Our efforts could not even remove 1% of the effects of sin, but the good news is – they don’t have to.
Jesus paid the price on your behalf.
The instructions found in 1 John 1:9 are not complicated, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness“. You may not feel forgiven, but what’s that got to do with anything? If God says you are forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness – then you are, whether you feel like it or not. You simply need to receive God’s forgiveness by faith, refuse to dwell on guilty feelings and act as though the sin never happened (which as far as God is concerned it didn’t). Your feelings will get in line, sooner or later. The idea that we could somehow do something ourselves to deal with our sin is totally unbiblical, and there is definitely no such place as purgatory. If you have not already received the forgiveness that is freely available before you die, then you are not going to make it to heaven – ever. You won’t spend a while in purgatory to pay for your sins, the only place you will go to is hell, where there is no chance of parole. You simply cannot pay for your own sins, which is why Jesus paid the price on your behalf.
It won’t do you any good to sit on the floor moping about how you shouldn’t have tripped up.
The devil knows that if he can keep you bound by past mistakes, you will be held back from where God wants to take you. Which is why he encourages you to dwell on mistakes, to think them over and over and over. “If only I had done this“, “If only I hadn’t done that“, “Why did I make that mistake, again?“. Yes you made a mistake, but Jesus has already paid for that mistake. If you stumble and fall, refuse to stay down, it won’t do you any good to sit on the floor moping about how you shouldn’t have tripped up. Get yourself back on your feet and keep going, do as Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14 from the Easy-to-Read Version, “I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine“. Leave the past where it belongs – in the past!
It is time for us as Christians to get serious about the things of God, and that means refusing to let anything hold us back. We are more than conquerors, so let’s start acting like it.
If you have any further questions or thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
If you have never received Jesus as your Lord & Saviour, if you have gone away from God, or if you have any doubts regarding your salvation. I encourage you to click on the link below. Clicking on the link will not secure your salvation, but praying the prayer you find, from your heart, will.
For the salvation prayer, please click here.