My wife and I just finished binge-watching the third season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, which turned out to be their best and most biblical season thus far. The whole season built toward the sacrificial death of one of SHIELD’s agents. Earlier in the season, Agent Daisy Johnson received a premonition thanks to an Inhuman with the ability to reveal the future. In her vision, Daisy sees a SHIELD agent die. Although she can’t see which agent it is, she can see a necklace with a gold cross in the agent’s hand.
As it turns out, the necklace and cross belong to Elena Rodriguez, a new recruit with super-speed who believes that her abilities are a gift from God and must be used in service of others. However, as the season progresses the cross repeatedly changes hands. Elena first gives the cross to Mack, the team’s musclebound engineer, reminding him, “This isn’t some lucky rabbit’s foot. It’s a symbol of faith.” Through a series of events the cross then passes to Agent Fitz, and then to Daisy herself. Finally, it ends up in the hands of Daisy’s love interest and fellow agent, Lincoln Campbell.
In the season finale, SHIELD faces an evil Inhuman named Hive bent on world domination and in possession of a nuclear warhead. In an act of self-sacrifice, Lincoln takes the cross from Daisy (aware of her earlier vision), then traps himself and Hive in a Quinjet carrying the nuclear warhead. With only moments before detonation, Lincoln rockets himself, Hive, and the warhead out into space.
Over the com-link, Daisy pleads with Lincoln, “What are you doing? This is crazy.” Lincoln replies, “This is my purpose, I know that now.” With tears streaming down her face, Daisy cries, “You can’t just die for me like this, it’s wrong.” Lincoln answers, “Saving the girl I love and the world at the same time… it feels pretty right to me.” When the communication signal fades, Daisy turns to Director Coulson, and cries, “He’s paying for my mistakes.” Coulson corrects her, “No. he’s paying for all our mistakes.” Aboard the Quinjet, Hive questions Lincoln, “[You’d] sacrifice for them with all their flaws?” Just before the warhead explodes in a blaze of light, Lincoln looks once more at the cross in his hand and replies, “They’re only human.”
Rarely will you see a better Christ-figure in television. What Lincoln did for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jesus did for you and me. The circumstances were different, but the result was the same. Your sin and mine have condemned us to eternal death. But despite all our flaws, Jesus willing sacrificed himself for our mistakes. Like Lincoln, Jesus chose the cross then carried it knowing full well where it would lead him.
We’ll have to wait until next season to find out how Daisy, Coulson and the rest of the team respond to Lincoln’s sacrifice. But the question now is—how will we respond to Christ’s sacrifice?