What possible relevance does a gambling game among first century Roman soldiers have for us?
Well, let's picture the scene in our minds: a few feet away from the tumbling dice a man is hanging, bleeding, dying. That man is Jesus, whom Christians confess to be the one who came to die in fulfillment of God's rescue plan. In the very shadow of his cross, totally oblivious to anything except who will win his coveted clothing, the soldiers totally miss the most awesome event of history: God's personal shouldering of our guilt, pain and punishment.
If only they had looked up from their dice. If only they had listened to what Jesus was saying from that Golgotha gibbet. But they did not. Their focus was fixed on the tumbling cubes.
Are we so different? Every Sunday the Lord comes down from heaven to be in the midst of His people who gather around His Word and Supper. And we, too, pass Him by because we have our own games to play, our own wagers to win, our own business to attend. Are these coveted prizes really of more value than the great gifts the Lord offers?
The season of Lent offers Christians a time to reassess our lusty lives, our glamorous goals and precious priorities. Are these really moving us in the most fulfilling directions? Are we really becoming "all that we can be" or are we missing out on the best that life can offer? Could we be playing games in the very shadow of the cross and be blind to His presence among us in Word and Sacrament?
In Holy Baptism we were united to that cross and to the Savior who hung there. Gently He reminds us that we are Christians. Firmly He calls us to live like it -- to live like He himself did: loving God with all our heart, mind and strength and our neighbor to the same degree that we love ourselves. Such a life is no gamble.
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