Like so many fans, therefore, we have faithfully tuned in nightly for this first week of broadcasts after the passing of Trebek. These initial episodes are being guest hosted by Ken Jennings, who is often referred to as the GOAT (or Greatest Of All Time) of Jeopardy contestants, having not only amassed the highest amount of earnings ever, but also having won the GOAT Tournament against other top winning contestants.
After four episodes, I am now pleased to announce that I have personally been impressed by Jennings, in regard to both his performance and his demeanor. While clearly not Alex Trebek, he is obviously not trying to be. He has begun each and every episode with what the French might call an “hommage” (pronounced “omaj”) to Trebek.
Included in each such statement has been the affirmation that there will never be another Alex Trebek; and that Jennings himself is only hoping to honor Trebek even as he carries on his work by hosting Jeopardy.
Beyond this, Jennings is also obviously prepared, focused, and extremely articulate. So much so that he has managed to do what I had personally thought would not be possible, in that he has held mine and so many other people’s attention as he has smoothly and professionally hosted each successive episode.
In addition to his pronunciation skills, he has displayed the warmth and winsomeness so critical to success in hosting a television game show. In my estimation, his quick wit, humor, and spontaneity all add up to a surprisingly successful combination, and combined, portend well for the future of Jeopardy.
The preacher in me cannot help but see a parallel here with regard to the New Testament transition from Jesus in the Gospels to His Disciples in the Book of Acts. Just as there has now come a time when the beloved Alex Trebek departed this life and stepped out into eternity, so did there come a time when Jesus Himself departed this world and returned to the Father in Heaven.
What is more, just as Trebek, during his time hosting Jeopardy, saw a number of players crowned as individual champions, so also did Jesus recognize and then acknowledge a select few individuals to be known as His Disciples.
Moreover, just as one individual Jeopardy champion was destined to be known as the GOAT, so also was one of the Disciples of Jesus destined to be their leader. And that man’s name was Simon Peter.
To be sure, along the way, as Ken Jennings struggled to become Jeopardy’s all-time winningest competitor, he stumbled here and there. Internet video clips are available that show Jennings missing a question or two here and there – even though the answer to some of them was rather obvious to the average viewer. The humanity he displayed in the process is also to be seen in the pages of the New Testament as Peter inevitably bungles one opportunity after another to stand tall for Christ.
And yet, just as Jennings’ evident humanity is offset enough by his humility to produce a viable stand in for Trebek, even so do we see Peter’s shortcomings overshadowed by his giftedness as he boldly stands and represents His Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.
In each of these examples - that of Ken Jennings tasked with following Alex Trebek, and that of Simon Peter tasked with following Jesus Christ – surely you and I can find encouragement and admonition for representing our Lord in the world in which we now live.
For we too have One Who has gone before us, Whose sandals we are not worthy to latch, and yet Whose presence we have been called to represent, and Whose ministry we have been called to fulfill!
The Neilson ratings are yet to come in on Jeopardy after Alex Trebek’s passing. My wife and I may or may not be the only ones watching this past week. But whatever they prove to be, they will pale in comparison to the rating given by the One True Viewer Whose opinion truly counts!
When all has been said and done, and those of us who purport to be followers of Jesus Christ stand before His throne, all that will matter is how good a job we have done in standing in His stead in this world. In that day, may we be found faithful for what we have done in this day!