So the other day, i’m at the park with my daughter, and she says, ‘Dad, i want to show you how i can do the monkey bars!’ So we head over and climb the steps to begin this acrobatic journey, and i can see already as she climbs up, just standing at that height, is making her feel uneasy. I jump down and stand right below her and reassure her, ‘Don’t worry baby, daddy’s right here if you need any help.’ She smiles and grabs hold of the bars … and then just stands there; her gaze shifting from the ground below to the next bar she has to grab – she is no longer smiling. Finally, i say, ‘Here. Grab this bar in front of you with one hand and place your other hand on the next bar; you don’t even have to stop standing on the platform yet.’ Then i even grab her legs – supporting all her weight – and tell her, ‘Now swing!’
Nothing! Absolutely nothing! She continues to stand at the start, unwilling to move; paralyzed by fear or stubbornness or both. And though i’m doing basically everything for her, she still stands there unwilling to move! Finally, i pull her legs from the platform, forcing her to swing out and see that she can trust me not to let her fall (yes, i’m that father) and – screams and tears and almost no effort later – she finally has swung from one side of the monkey bars to the other … and now, she wants to do it again!
I don’t yet know why it happens, but in these moments of play and training, laughter and fear, i clearly hear the voice of God say, ‘Hey! Is this reminding you of anything right now?’ And, for me, the answer to that question was Matthew 28 and the Great Commission given by our Lord. This text has been very well expounded to me in the past to show that there is not one, but three parts here:
The great Claim
The great Commission
and The great Comfort
The Claim is found in 28:18 when Jesus says of Himself that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Rough translation: if you’re looking for the guy in charge around here, it’s Me. Hebrews will later tell us that all things were created by Him and He holds all things together by the Word of His power.
This Claim, then, is meant to give us the basis by which we obey the great Commission: to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Finally, the great Comfort is that Jesus is not just kicking us in the deep end of the pool and saying, “SWIM boy!”, but rather is “with us always to the end of the age.” Jesus says, “I’m here with you! You don’t have to do this on your own and ‘figure it out’ somehow. I’m going to go with you! Oh and, by the way, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, so that’s gonna help too.”
And it’s here – especially for me – in the Comfort that Christ offers us, that i see Him standing under me, teaching me what to do, upholding me to the point where all that is required of me bare obedience almost. And still i stand in fear on the steps. Paralyzed at the immensity of His command to make these ‘disciples’; to be faithful to share His gospel and leave the work of conversion to Him ….
But he doesn’t leave me to do it on my own – He goes with me! He is the teacher and He is the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth to accomplish it. And yes, sometimes He does have to pull me from the ledge and help me to see that His everlasting arms will always uphold me as i step out in obedience to follow His commands. But as i learn to trust Him more and more – to lean into Him and experience that i can rely on His strength to do what He commands me to do – i too am excited to do it again.