The Gospel According to Doctor Strange

The Gospel According to Doctor Strange

Before kids, I used to watch a ton of movies. These days I have to be a bit more selective. Movies tend to be more of a way to relax than to ponder life deeply, but I was surprised to find myself reflecting on the recent movie Doctor Strange. This movie is part of the Marvel universe and I actually knew next to nothing about it before seeing it. However, this is a beautiful story in which the gospel emerges in numerous different ways.

Doctor Strange begins the movie as a narcissistic surgeon. While we may not have his talents or his money, most of us can relate with his natural desire to think first of himself. Early on he gets confronted with this in order for him to develop in new ways.

The Ancient One: Arrogance and fear still keep you from learning the simplest and most significant lesson of all.

Dr. Stephen Strange: Which is?

The Ancient One: It’s not about you.

Sounds like something Jesus said in Luke 9:23. “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Indeed, this might just be the simplest and most significant lesson for each of us to learn.

But hands down my favorite part was toward the end. *If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m about to give you a spoiler so keep this post in your browser and go watch the movie first if you want to be surprised.*

Doctor Strange finds himself battling a being outside of time (named Dormammu). He cannot overpower him with magic or might. He’s outmatched. So instead, he uses a time loop to trap him through suffering over and over again.

Dr. Stephen Strange: Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain!

Dormammu: You’ve come to die. Your world is now my world. Like all worlds.

[He disintegrates Strange easily]

Dr. Stephen Strange: Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain!

Dormammu: You’ve come to die. Your world is now my… What is this? Illusion?

Dr. Stephen Strange: No, this is real.

Dormammu: Good.

[he kills Strange again]

Dr. Stephen Strange: [bored] Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain.

Dormammu: What is happening?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Since you gave Kaecilius power from your dimension, I brought some power from mine. This is time. Endless, looped time!

Dormammu: You dare?

[he kills Strange again]

Dr. Stephen Strange: Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain!

Dormammu: You cannot do this forever.

Dr. Stephen Strange: Actually, I can. This is how things are now! You and me. Trapped in this moment. Endlessly.

Dormammu: Then you will spend eternity dying!

Dr. Stephen Strange: Yes, but everyone on Earth will live.

Dormammu: But you will suffer!

Dr. Stephen Strange: Pain’s an old friend.

[Dormammu kills Strange again. And again. And again… ]

Dormammu: End this! You will never win.

Dr. Stephen Strange: No. But I can lose. Again. And again. And again. Forever. That makes you my prisoner.

Dormammu: No! Stop! Make this stop! Set me free!

Dr. Stephen Strange: No! I’ve come to bargain!

Dormammu: What do you want?

Dr. Stephen Strange: Take your zealots from the Earth. End your assault on my world. Never come back. Do it and I’ll break the loop.

You might need to watch the movie to fully understand this dialogue, but this is a brilliant twist (albeit likely not intended) on what Jesus does on the cross. He doesn’t just overpower Satan, He beats Satan by losing to him. To be clear, Jesus was never outmatched by the power of evil. But He beat evil in the most surprising of ways. It’s so profound that many Christians fail to see the significance of it even today. Here’s how the Apostle Paul says it,

“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:13-15

All because of a willingness to suffer. May we never fail to see the upside-down power in it. He didn’t beat Satan with a sword but with a cross. No matter how weak or overpowered you might feel, remember that a willingness to suffer for others will allow you to experience the power of Christ.

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, Aiden, and another foster child. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Executive Pastor at Central Christian Church AZ.

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