The expression “skin in the game,” often encountered in the world of business and finance, refers to owners or executives having a significant stake in the shares of the company they manage. It is important to investors, for it shows that the owners or executives share a stake in the company’s success. Or, when workers have stock in the company they work for, they “have skin in the game” so they may work harder to make it successful. So, to “have skin” in something means you have an active interest in its success, because you are invested in it, and if it fails, it affects you in some way. The term, “skin in the game,” originated from the derby races where the owners of the horses had the most to gain or lose.
The ultimate example of one who (literally) had “skin in the game,” is Jesus Christ, the “Word” who was “with God,” and “was God,” and “was in the beginning with God,” that “became flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:1,2,14). “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14,15). God the Son took on human flesh in order that “He might taste death for every one” (Heb. 2:9).
He became the “one mediator between God and men” and “gave Himself as a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:5,6). As the God-Man mediator, He most certainly had “skin in the game.” But why was such a mediator needed? Because sin made us enemies of God and we were without hope and no amount of animal sacrifices could take away our sin. Jesus came as both our High Priest and our sacrifice. As the perfect “Lamb of God” (Jn. 1:29) he laid down His life as a final sacrifice for sin. “Through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption…And every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 9:11; 10:11,12).
Jesus definitely had “skin in the game,” for “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Eph. 1:18) depended upon His “bearing our sins in His body on the cross” (I Pet. 2:24). That is what makes the resurrection of such great significance, for it was proof that God the Father was satisfied (“propitiated”) with Jesus’ sacrifice in payment for our sins. I John 2:2 says, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” And Paul wrote: “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Rom. 3:24,25). He goes on to add: “He was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (4:25). In other words, He died for our sins and was raised as evidence that the payment was accepted. God was “propitiated” or “satisfied.”
This adds insightful impact to the “resurrection chapter” of I Corinthians 15, where it says “…If Christ has not been raised, your faith in worthless, you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. BUT NOW Christ has been raised from the dead…” (vv. 16-20).
As we approach Resurrection Sunday, we can rejoice that Christ Jesus had “skln in the game,” that He was fully invested in God’s plan of redemption to put away our sins through going to the Cross and laying down His life as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). As beneficiaries of that amazing sacrificial act, we too have “skin in the game,” for we are not our own. We have been bought with a price and therefore should glorify God in our body (I Cor. 6:19,20). “He died for all, that they who live (those who have received Him as Savior) should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (II Cor. 5:15). We are to be “all in” for Jesus, because He was “all in” for us.