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"Earn This" Lesson On the Cross from Saving Private Ryan

In the final battle scene from the World War II film, Saving Private Ryan , mortally wounded Captain John H. Miller whispers his last words into Private James Ryan's ears: "Earn this," he says between agonal breaths before he slumps his head, his task complete. His task was to find private Ryan and bring him home, a mission of mercy planned to give his mother some solace after she hears that three of her four sons died on the field. Miller and his specially picked squad end up completing their task, at the cost of most of their own lives; yet they successfully complete their mission, to bring Private Ryan home alive.

In the final minutes of the movie, after Miller's passionate imperative, "Earn this," the camera cuts an elderly James Ryan standing over Miller's grave. Tears in his eyes, Ryan speaks to the departed Miller at his grave saying, "Everyday I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge; I've tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that that was enough. I hope, that at least in your eyes, I earned what [you] have done for me."

Miller and his group of men sacrificed much for Private Ryan. They died so that Ryan could live. Their deaths for Private Ryan were not based on anything good in Private Ryan; it was a mission of mercy. Picking up on these themes, I heard a sermon shortly after the movie's release in which the preacher showed the clip and said that this gives us a glimpse of what Jesus did for us. Then with dramatic pause he asked each of us in the crowd, "Have you earned it? Do you live life the best that you can so that in God's eyes He will say you have earned what He did for you?" Then he dismissed everyone. I wanted to stand up and scream, "No! No! You've missed the point!"

This is precisely NOT the message of the cross. Jesus' death is completely different. Jesus died precisely so that we didn't have to earn it.

Just like private Ryan remembered his saviors' deaths every day, we must daily remember our Savior's death. But Jesus said something far different hanging on the cross than Captain Miller said on the bridge. Miller said, "Earn this." Jesus said, "It is finished." In essence, "I just earned what you never could and must not now try." When you remember the cross do you remember Christ's words? We must remember the cross and if you remember the cross rightly you will never try to earn anything. If Christ died for you, he died to earn you that which you never could earn. If you could have earned, Jesus wouldn't have had to die (c.f. Gal 2:21).

Just like Ryan's memory of those who died for him affected his day to day life, so your memory of the One who died for you must affect your day-to-day life. But the motive for it affecting you must be completely different. To try to earn Christ's death through your good works or righteous life is to ignore the true meaning of all the Jesus did there as he died. On the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God that you and I deserve and Christ's righteousness was applied to us (2 Cor 5:21). We have earned and can earn nothing but Hell. Precisely because we can't earn heaven by our own righteousness, Christ died to give us His.

If you look at the cross and try to earn it, Christ didn't die for you. That's not faith; that's works. Repent.

Rather, recognize Christ's finished work, and trust that it is sufficient to reconcile yourself to God. Christ's death purchased us out of the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:13-14). There is nothing left that you have to do. So now live like the new creature that God has made you, not to earn the cross but because of what the cross has earned for you.

Let's change Ryan's words spoken at the gravestone and say, from the foot of the cross, "Everyday, I think about what you said that day on the cross, 'It is finished.' I now live my life as one forgiven and freed from sins. I could never do enough, and I praise you that Christ has made me righteous in your eyes."

  Hello Jacob, Just wanted to say how much I appreciated and agree with this article. That part of the movie bothered me since I saw it all those years ago. As much as I appreciate the realism of Spielberg, his morality is very Jewish and legalistic. (Shindler’s List too) But rather than bashing him, I respect what you said and how we should think about Christ and what he did. I went to RTS Orlando and love film. I am also liking the other stuff on your blog here about holy hip hop, anti-abortion and business for God’s glory. Keep it up man. I have a lot of family and freinds from Phoenix and Prescott. Be cool to visit your church maybe. by: Will () - 06 April '11 - 03:57 I agree – what Christ said was that it was finished on the Cross. Yet we have our lives to live. We won’t stop sinning on the day we accept Christ is God. What then?

Living an upright, good life is something that should follow from becoming a Christian, although it is not what makes a Christian. But what kind of faith does not translate in action? What kind of response is it to take the Cross for granted a live a life of great indulgence (for this is one possible extreme). Perhaps ‘all our righteous deeds are like filthy rags before God’. Yet Jesus told the adulterous woman (and us) to ‘sin no more’.

We can never be condemned by our sins if we seek the redemption of Christ, yet how much faith is sufficient? Is faith a work in itself, as well as a gift? We are not pre-destined for hell or heaven, so a choice must come for everyone. An upright man who listens to the spirit of God in all he does, and yet does not know Jesus, what of him? What of Noah, Moses, Elijah, Samuel and Joseph? by: Ross () - 19 May '13 - 14:54 In an ideal world, the next-door neighbor’s daughter would be a responsible straight-A student who’d rather babysit than date. Alas, this is rarely the case. Rather than spending Saturday nights at home with the kids, you can try your luck on Thanks. by: thesis formatting () (URL) - 13 June '13 - 01:58 That’s really nice items you shared inside your post. by: ptory () - 23 August '13 - 02:39 I really like this post. It is very interesting topic and the author is really clever and broadminded person. I would like to read another post this author with great pleasure. by: business cv () (URL) - 15 November '13 - 04:29 3433 trackbacksslot machine games online slot machine games online Sent on 04 October '10 - 02:21 , via slot machine games onlineWholesale Jerseys You cannot be airb Wholesale NFL Jerseys orne and to intend Cheap Jerseys From China to carry out the service receive the competence of volley ball. On the other hand, Wholesale NFL Jerseys , on the web marketing uses the internet device wi Cheap NHL Jerseys thin taking your own company and business interest for th Sent on 30 March '17 - 07:09 , via Cheap MLB Jerseys 5589_zdwz_under armour scorpio uomo It?s best to have a m nike air max 90 hyperfuse australia onth?s worth of content ready to pos hyovpyel. uggs miehett at an nike air max 90 premium australia y given time so that you can update the site even if you don?t have time to write an in depth piece. This can be done in a lot of ways but one of the best is to create a “fan” page for nike air max 2017 womens australia y Sent on 16 June '17 - 02:23 , via under armour speedform gemini uomo 15316_wz7_jordan 11 space jam italia “The Diamondbacks finished 79 83 under Hale last season, an i nike air max 90 herren schwarz wei
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