Monday, August 29, 2016

Ghost Rider's Adversary & Advocate

I’ve recently taken an interest in Marvel’s Ghost Rider. I’m in the planning stages for a Ghost Rider costume, I picked up a stack of Ghost Rider comic books at a local comic show yesterday, and I got super excited when I heard that Ghost Rider will be a major character in Agents of SHIELD season 4. I even re-watched the 2008 Ghost Rider movie the other night… it was still terrible. Nonetheless, Ghost Rider’s character has really piqued my interest.

For those unfamiliar with Ghost Rider, John Blaze was born into a world of motorcycle grease and cheering crowds. The adopted son of a motorcycle stuntman, Craig “Crash” Simpson, Johnny always dreamed of following in his father’s footsteps… or tread marks. This dream came to a fiery end when Crash revealed he was dying of cancer. Distraught and lacking any sort of spiritual foundation, Johnny turned to the occult in search of answers. His studies ultimately led to a spell that could summon Satan himself and Johnny literally made a deal with the devil. Satan promised to cure Crash’s cancer in return for Johnny's promise of servitude. Soon afterward, Crash died in a tragic motorcycle accident during a stunt show, but Satan held Johnny to their deal transforming him into a leather-clad skeleton with a flaming skull and fiery chopper. Of course, Johnny refuses to do Satan’s bidding and instead uses his power as Ghost Rider to punish evildoers and wage war against Satan’s demons.

I think what first attracted me to the character was my discovery that Jesus loves Ghost Rider. In Ghost Rider #9, a story written by Tony Isabella in 1973, the “hell-bound hero” rides into his first fearful showdown with Satan. As the battle reaches its climactic conclusion, Ghost Rider finds himself completely outmatched and at the mercy of Satan. But just before Satan can deliver a devastating blow, a mysterious stranger (who bears a striking resemblance to Jesus) comes to Ghost Rider’s defense. “Let me help you up, Johnny,” the stranger says extending a kind hand. “No! No!” Satan cries. Turning to Satan, the stranger declares, “Johnny Blaze’s soul is beyond you, Satan! He has earned his second chance!” Without throwing a single punch or energy blast, the stranger saves that day as the devil tucks his pointed tail between his legs and runs away.

While the stranger is nameless, the imagery is certainly biblical—Jesus helping a sinner to his feet and standing up to Satan on his behalf. Something else this “Jesus” says seems deeply true: “No man lives his life without contending with you several times, Satan.”

While he may not have red skin, horns and a cape, Satan is a very real enemy. This means, like Johnny Blaze, you are engaged in a spiritual battle whether you want to be or not. It’s a battle between good and evil, and you are the prize! Satan’s target is your spirit. Scripture describes Satan as an angelic being who fell from heaven due to pride and sin and is now completely opposed to God, doing all in his power to thwart God's purposes and tempt God’s people. The devil will do everything he can to undermine your relationship with God. He’ll attack your reputation in order to corrupt your witness. He’ll target your marriage. He’ll steal your peace, your passion, and your sense of purpose. He will do whatever it takes to destroy your faith and your future. The Bible warns, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NLT).

Thankfully, as illustrated by Ghost Rider’s encounter with Christ, Satan may be our adversary but Jesus is our advocate. Any time Satan knocks us down, Jesus will be there to help us up. When we put our faith and future in the hands of Jesus, all Satan can do is tuck tail and run away (James 4:7).  

1 comment:

  1. I know I am obviously four years late to this post, but I recently saw in a YouTube video that Jim Shooter, Marvel's EIC at the time, was responsible for Jesus being referred to as a mysterious stranger. Isabella wrote it to be Jesus by name.