The CBS hit television show NCIS is a “cop show” featuring the Naval Criminal Investigative Service that often has more twists and turns than San Francisco’s famous Lombard Street. The show’s most recognizable star is Mark Harmon, who plays the lead investigator, and it frequently has well known guest stars, such as last week’s appearance of Robert Wagner.
The November 15 episode of NCIS had an amazing 19.9 million viewers. The episode, titled “Engaged, Part II,” includes an interesting scene featuring the always entertaining Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, played by actor Michael Weatherly. The witty, confident, skirt chasing Tony has a usually hidden insecure side as well. In this episode, Tony enters the Navy base chapel looking for the Chaplain, Lieutenant Commander Melanie Burke, played by Jaime Ray Newman (to discuss business, not spiritual matters). The chapel is empty, affording Tony a rather quizzical conversation with a god that’s familiar to a lot of people – Satan wearing the mask of God:
Commander? Chaplain Burke? Hello? Anybody here?
And then, in his best Cool Hand Luke voice:
“Anybody here?” Cool Hand Luke. Of course you knew that. You know I could have used you a couple of months ago. I got my head scrambled pretty good. Of course I understand you’re a busy guy. We haven’t talked much. It’s my bad. [Picks up a Bible that’s lying on the floor.] I’m doing the best I can down here you know… for a DiNozzo. Hopefully living up to my end of the bargain. You do remember our bargain? Be nice to hear from you. So you have a plan? Anything you wanna share with me? How ‘bout you let me know I’m on the right track. How ‘bout you let me know I’m not talking to myself. You are so predictable.
And once again, Cool Hand Luke:
“Well I guess what we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Tony isn’t on the right track. He’s been duped by Satan. The devil loves to preach a compelling Gospel of works, and he’s a very effective preacher. He can preach with the best of them. He’ll be more than happy to tell you all about how you should help the little old lady across the street and give to your favorite charity - just as long as you’re not relying on Jesus Christ.
Satan is the god of this world. He blinds the minds of unbelievers with a clever deception, one that is very believable, and Tony is buying into it. If you’re good, you’ll get to heaven. If you just try, do your best, everything will be all right. Satan leans over you as he tucks you into bed at night, wearing God’s mask, but his lullaby is fatal. Putting your trust in your own works cannot save. You really aren’t good enough, because God expects perfection. As the saying goes, God doesn’t grade on a curve.
At the same time, God hides behind Satan’s mask. Every day the truth of the Gospel is labeled as foolishness in the classroom, the lab room, and the courtroom. The Gospel is put down and mocked. Who can believe that the world was created in six days, or that a virgin gave birth, or that God became man? Yet it pleased God through the folly of the preaching of the Gospel to save those who believe.
Ironically, the answer to Tony’s real problem is right there, lying at his feet - a plain-looking Bible. He picks the Bible up, but he doesn’t open it. Tony is right in one aspect, what we have here really is a failure to communicate. He continues in his delusion, refusing to open and read, or hear. He doesn’t see the magnitude of his sin, or the greater magnitude of Christ’s atoning work on the cross to forgive that sin. He believes that it’s all about the deal he cut with God, rather than the all-availing work of Jesus.
The bargain Tony made was a one-sided one that God had no part in – God knows Tony can’t possibly keep his end of the deal. God has a much better one-sided deal for us, one in which all we have to do is believe, and He seals the deal by giving us the belief we need. Tony’s rhetorical question, “So you have a plan?” is answered in the pages of Scripture:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 ESV
If you’re quick about it, you should be able to watch this episode online here.
photo credit: Alaidh