So You’re Telling Me There’s A Chance?

One of the most poignant parts, at least to me, in the movie “Dumb And Dumber,” is a scene where the character Lloyd (played by Jim Carrey) is asking about his chances with the woman he adores who (unbeknownst to him) is happily married. As she gently tries to discourage him by giving him very bad odds, his response is strangely one of joy when he mistakenly thinks that he has a chance with her [1]. This does not mean that he did not have an opportunity to be with her, or to spend time with her, or even to rescue her from trouble, but despite his mistaken subjective odds and her misleading generosity, he really did have no chance with her. This understanding is important for us in matters that are far outside the realms of comedy.

In a recent article in the Good News Magazine, writer Tom Robinson comments on various ways that Jesus’ sinless life was assured, that is, made certain, despite the fact that he had many opportunities to sin (and active temptation to do so) [2]. Given that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was something planned from the foundations of the world (Revelation 13:8), and the subject of the Bible’s first prophecy, the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15), clearly this was something that God and Jesus Christ gave a lot of thought to, which is revealed through the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings in many ways and forms [3]. It was something that was made certain to succeed and agonized over because upon that sacrifice depended all hope for eternal life and glory for sinful and rebellious humanity, for it was only through a perfect sacrifice that the sacrifices for sin could be paid and mankind could be imputed a righteousness that we in no way can ever deserve or merit or earn through our own actions. In light of the ways that Jesus and God made sure that Jesus Christ would succeed in living a sinless life as a human being and become the redeemer of many brothers and sisters, there was not one iota of chance that Jesus Christ would fail to qualify as the perfect Passover sacrifice for mankind.

That said, there must be an open and honest recognition that there was plenty of opportunity for Jesus Christ to sin. From at least the age of twelve, where Jesus had the opportunity to dishonor and disrespect his mother and stepfather when they did not understand his need to go to the temple (Luke 2:46-52) to his agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane for the cup of sacrifice to pass from Him to someone else if it was at all possible (Matthew 26:36-42), Jesus was tested in all ways that ordinary human beings were but without sin (Hebrews 4:15-16), qualifying as a perfect high priest thereby. Yet he had as many opportunities to sin, if not more, that any gregarious person with a questionable taste in company and dinner and conversation companions (see Matthew 9:10, Luke 15:1, 7:32, among many examples), along with being unmarried, open-hearted, well-traveled, immensely bright, and filled with a righteous indignation against the corruption and evil and massive injustice of his place and time. It ought to be unmistakably clear that Jesus Christ had every opportunity to sin that other people in His place have, and yet he passed every test.

Let us also clearly understand that Satan thought there was a chance that Jesus Christ could fail. After all, one does not lead a hopeless and lengthy rebellion against the authority of God by succumbing to despair over the impossibility of the task, no matter how despondent or dispirited one’s subordinates may be. Besides Satan’s direct assault on Jesus Christ (the three familiar temptations, Matthew 4:1-11), there was a more subtle way of fomenting discontent among the Jewish people and leaders through misrepresenting Jesus’ activities of freeing so many from illness on the Sabbath as a way of attacking the sanctity of the Sabbath for Jesus Christ in the mind of both Jews and later self-professed Christians, as well as by setting up expectations for political deliverance during Jesus’ first coming, which also was not in the plans. These methods, of campaigns of slander and misrepresentation as well as setting up disappointment through unreasonable expectations, are fairly standard parts of the satanic repertoire. These indirect assaults on people through the behavior and conversation of others, are among the more frustrating ways that we are tempted or lured into the sins of pride and arrogance and resentment. Satan failed in his attempts to lure Jesus Christ into sin, but let us note that subjectively Satan must have thought there was a chance, however small, or else he would not have wasted the effort. Like Lloyd Christmas of “Dumb and Dumber,” Satan had subjective odds that were higher than zero, probably considerably higher.

Let us therefore examine the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ with a proper understanding of the distinction between opportunity and chance, as well as by the objective chance and the subjective chance that others place on it. Simply because there is opportunity to sin does not mean that the opportunity will be taken. If this is true for fallen and flawed human beings like ourselves, who fairly regularly fail to take the opportunity to sin in many ways, this ought to be even more true of a being with a perfect relationship with God as well as an unlimited measure of His Spirit within Him. Likewise, our subjective measure of the likelihood of various events depends on our hopes and fears and personal experiences and is often not a reliable measure of reality, even if it is a major influence in our own behavior, as we will often act in ways that are highly desirable and that we judge there being at least some chance of success, however small, while those things we consider impossible or undesirable we will often seek to avoid trying, even if in reality they end up being both highly possible and desirable in reality that we are unaware of. Remembering these things can help protect us from despair or heresy, as well as allow us to better understand the world in which we live and the reasons why we and others behave as we do.

[1] Here is the dialogue for the relevant scene, according to Imdb:

Lloyd Christmas: What do you think the chances are of a guy like you and a girl like me… ending up together?
Mary Swanson: Well, Lloyd, that’s difficult to say. I mean, we don’t really…
Lloyd Christmas: Hit me with it! Just give it to me straight! I came a long way just to see you, Mary. The least you can do is level with me. What are my chances?
Mary Swanson: Not good.
Lloyd Christmas: You mean, not good like one out of a hundred?
Mary Swanson: I’d say more like one out of a million.
Lloyd Christmas: So you’re telling me there’s a chance… YEAH!



[3] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, Church of God, Love & Marriage, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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