I got kicked off the field in the first half of the National Championship game on January 10, 2022. I’m not upset or bitter. The event security guards, accompanied by an Indianapolis police officer, were only doing their jobs, but I must admit I was a bit embarrassed by the whole episode. I had spent the last forty-eight hours on live television with ESPN, breaking down matchups, postulating keys to victory, and predicting the final score, only to be removed from the sideline moments after wrapping up pregame coverage from the concourse set at Lucas Oil Stadium. Standing in the tunnel, I could feel the roar of the crowd, but my view of the contest was now wholly obstructed. I was asked to produce my driver’s license, and a valid reason I lacked credentials for the access I had only enjoyed momentarily.
It did not matter that I was a Georgia alumnus, a 16 year NFL veteran, or that I had probably forgotten more football than these three individuals knew combined. I pushed back, explaining how ESPN security had escorted me to that location on the sideline and promised to return to bring me back for halftime coverage. In a firm tone and deliberate yet respectful language, they reiterated that all would have been well if my escort had been present. But since he was not and I did not possess the correct credential, I was restricted from being on the turf. The gold credential dangling from my neck gave me entry privileges to several necessary locations throughout the stadium. Access to the field, however, was restricted to the green.
I returned to the concourse and watched the remainder of the half before our live halftime show. After telling Todd, the security escort, my dilemma, he graciously vowed to remain with me throughout the entire second half and potential celebration. I stood, jumped, paced, and ran around the sideline in nervous anticipation that eventually culminated in the confetti-laden euphoria of victory. This time no one questioned my status or credentials. My access was secure not by my own merit but because Todd willingly imputed his privileges and authority on my behalf.
It is often said that WHO you know is more important than WHAT you know. While that statement certainly applied to my experience, it has even more significant implications for eternity. Though it is appointed for men to die once, and then the judgment, death does not have to have the final say (Hebrews 9:27). Eternal life, knowing God and Jesus who He sent, is available for the condemned (John 17:3).
The Bible declares that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Our material wealth cannot purchase forgiveness for the sin that separates us from a holy God. Our good works, like hollow weights, cannot offset the damnation assigned to our account. Our social status cannot gain entry to a locked room whose only key is a blood-stained cross. Our church attendance cannot earn the justification that only grace can impart. Eternal life is reserved for those the Spirit calls and who, through repentance and faith, believe that Jesus paid the just penalty for their iniquity and, with His resurrection, defeated the physical and spiritual death that sin brought on all humanity. This gift of salvation, forgiveness, and restoration is given freely to all who confess He is Lord. 1 John 5:12 says, "And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. “
There is only one sufficient credential for access to the Kingdom. There is only one companion with the power to secure everlasting life for another. His name is Jesus.