In sports, one of the biggest compliments you can pay an athlete is to say that they are “clutch”, meaning in the biggest games and the biggest moments, with all the pressure on, they come through and succeed. They aren’t fazed by the pressure of the moment or the high stakes. They overcome and deliver in the clutch. Clutch players convert the game-winning field goal, make the buzzer-beating three-pointer or come up with the big save in overtime. Conversely, one of the biggest insults is to be a “choker”, someone who crumbles under the pressure and can’t get the job done when it matters most.
Though we don’t use the word, the same could be said for other performances. It’s great that you can play that difficult piano piece at home, but can you perform it under the bright lights? You have all your lines memorized and delivered them perfectly in rehearsal, but how will you perform your part when the curtain rises? You’ve got all your certification and training as a firefighter, but will you save the day when the flames are as real as the lives that need rescuing?
Under the pressure of the moment some people wilt away and are unable to get the job done, while others rise to the occasion and can be considered clutch.
Jesus is clutch.
In the garden of Gethsemane, carrying the salvation of the world, with the pressure of the entire mission of God resting on his success, facing an impossibly difficult task, Jesus didn’t wilt. With the entire plan of God from before the foundation of the world hanging in the balance, Jesus faced incredible temptation and pressure and still succeeded.
Me, on the other hand, I wilt. When the pressure mounts my broken human condition shines through and I sin and fail. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus won victory where I failed. He earned victory through his perfect righteousness, his faithful obedience, and his death and resurrection. As I approach him in repentance and faith, his clutch victory is given to me in exchange for my epic loss.
I experience victory and glory, not because I came through in the clutch, but because even though I failed, I know the One who did come through in the clutch.
So when life gets hard, the pressure mounts and the spotlight is on, who am I going to? Who gets the ball? Am I trusting in my own performance, my own ability to overcome, despite my history of failure? Or do I place my trust in Jesus’ hands, believing that his victory is enough for me?