Posted in 2022 Lent Devotions

The game

“Mirror of the Passion” Lent devotion for March 29, 2022. Photo by Robert Coelho on Unsplash

And they cast lots to divide his garments. (Luke 23:34)

Are you feeling lucky?

A lot of people do. The longest lines at the convenience and grocery stores are for lottery tickets. Scratch offs show up as gifts in Christmas stockings, Easter baskets, and Halloween trick-or-treat bags. Americans spend about $80 billion every year on lotteries.

One lucky person on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion would win his clothes. After stripping Jesus and nailing him to the cross, there wasn’t much left for the soldiers to do other than wait. To pass the time they played a game kind of like rolling dice. “They cast lots to divide his garments” (Luke 23:34). Hundreds of years before, the psalmist had written about this moment. “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18).

We make everything a game. We yell, “Shotgun!” when it’s time to get in the car. Kids taunt each other, “I beat you!” You subtly rev your engine waiting for the light to change. The neighbor makes sure you notice the new boat in his driveway. Or you casually mention now much that new grill cost you.

When life is a game, the only thing that matters is winning. Everything is a competition. You have to finish first. You have to be the best even if that means putting someone down. You might have to cheat, or at least bend the rules. You have to come out on top.

Somewhere along the line you discover (or you will discover) that life is not just a game. In our quest to be king of the hill, someone always gets hurt. We get pushed aside, tripped, and stepped on. It’s no fun anymore. Sure, someone wins. But many more lose.

Jesus never plays the game. He’s not out to win. He came to lose. He came to give up his life. The crucified Christ was crushed by a stampede of greedy and selfish people like us who just have to win.

Jesus doesn’t play the game. He stops and helps other people get up. He encourages them to keep going, even walking alongside of them. Yet he comes out on top. His name is above all others, the first one you see on the printout of finishers. How about that? He was right. “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).

Lord, I am so tired of playing the game. Thanks for showing me a different way to come out on top. Amen.

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