I love it when I see children running and jumping into someone’s arms. I appreciate it the most when it is my children, Tayla and Liam, jumping into my arms. It is beautiful to see how that moment captures a mixture of excitement, joy and trust. Jumping into someone’s arms takes a fair amount of trust. Without trust, how will I know that I will be caught when I am jumping?

One of the jumping-with-excitement passages in the New Testament comes from the writings of Matthew. The Message translation reads,

“Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: “Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You’ve concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that’s the way you like to work.” Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. “The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”” (Matthew 11:25–30, The Message)

In this passage there are two jumping-with-trusting-excitement scenes. The first is when Jesus jumps into his Father’s arms. The scene brims with energy and pulsates with playfulness. In prayer Jesus jumps into the Father’s arms. He knows that the Father is trustworthy, he is “Lord of heaven and earth”. It was a Jewish way to say that God is amazing.

A few years ago there was an advertisement on television about a dad picking his son up from school. The dad then asks his son how his day was. The son tells him that they played a lot and that they had a discussion about whose dad was the best. The dad asks, “what did you say?”, the son looks at his dad and says, “nothing dad, I only smiled.”

The son smiles because he knows that his dad is the best – there is no debate about this. I wonder what your image of the Fathers is? Do you think God is “Lord of heaven and earth”? Or are you afraid of God? Is God someone you feel like running towards or rather someone you are running from? Jesus talks about God in a tenderly way – he wants to share with those who are listening about his amazing and unique “Father-Son operation”.

The second scene is when Jesus invites all to come. This scene is not just a jumping-with-trusting-excitement scene but also a I-am-hurt-and-need-rest scene or a I-want-to-learn-what-it-means-to-live scene. What strikes me in this scene is how Jesus invites us and then helps us with our trust issues. Have you noticed that children will run towards someone when there is relationship? It is when they feel safe with the person calling them to come, that they actually come. We have all experienced that odd moment when a strange aunt or uncle invites children into a hug or embrace and when the child shies away. In the absence of trust, people won’t come.

That is why I think Jesus tells us that when we come he will not place anything “ill-fitting” on us. He says that he is gentle and humble. And when we come to him, he will teach us. But do we believe Jesus has something to teach us? Do we think that he is smart enough to help with our actual lives? Or is He good enough for saving our souls but not really in touch with the realities of our lives? Jesus calls us into a rest that involves learning. I really like the way Warren Carter talks about this passage when he writes that,

“Throughout his ministry, Jesus has been about the task of forming a community of disciples centered on himself with alternative commitments and social practices. This community is not to imitate the imperial society. It is marked by service to one another, not domination … But such an alternative community is not natural for those conditioned by a hierarchical and dominating imperial society. They must be resocialised. They must “learn from me” … From Jesus’ discourses, from his definitive teaching of God’s will, and from his actions, disciples learn practices that challenge fundamental values and practices of the imperial society and begin to embody God’s salvation even now in anticipation of the time when it will be established in full.”

 

More than ever I want to learn from Jesus what it means to live in a new way. More than ever I want to shed images of the Father and of Jesus that hinder my coming. More than ever I know that this cannot happen in isolation. More than ever I want to come. Who else feels this way? It is learning time!