We’ve all been in situations where the stakes are high. I remember going to visit my Embryology teacher after the final exam. I was a second semester Senior and needed to get at a C to pass the course and graduate. The stakes were high. The professor pulled out his grade book and said, “oh you got an F”. “WHAAAAAAT … THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE…”. He must have noticed my unrest as he studied the numbers and then he said, “Oh, I forgot to average in your last test…chuckle, chuckle…you got a C+ for the course.” After I pried my fingers from around his neck, I thanked him and went over to the local PUB to take my medication. I often wondered if I hadn’t stopped over to see him if he would have noticed the error.
We all have had many situations where the stakes were high. Yesterday’s gospel mentioned a situation that outlined the highest of stakes. Jesus admonished the Pharisees, saying “ I told you that you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he.” (John 8:23) The stakes are the highest, the direction is clear. In unvarnished words, heaven and hell is at stake…now is the time to decide… the stakes are the highest. Did the Pharisees listen and make a wise decision…it’s not clear.
Sometimes when the stakes are high, I don’t like to think about it. I want to cloudy the water… ”gee, maybe the stakes aren’t that high, maybe the teachings of the church aren’t that clear, maybe Jesus is exaggerating to make a point… he couldn’t possibly mean that…..hmmmm.
Peter tells us in the book of Acts, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name (Jesus Christ) under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts. 4:12) Well, there is salvation in no other than Jesus Christ. By his cross and resurrection, he has set us free. Jesus is Lord! We must give ourselves to him and follow what he says. Wow, that can sound a bit narrow minded or arbitrary. No, God has decided how this works. I don’t get to decide how this works. It’s not a democracy, with the majority deciding. God has decided and in his wonderful love and mercy , he has provided a way for you and me. Let’s grab on and hold tight.
Everything is at stake. We cannot be childish and insist on my way…. which doesn’t work. We must cling to Jesus and his magnificent offer of salvation. If we do, all will be well with my soul. Remember, everything is at stake.