In the sport of rock climbing, climber’s rarely free solo climb, that is, climb without any ropes or safety devices. If a climber is harnessed in, a fall could be as little as a few feet, but solo climbing falls lead to serious injury and often death. However, many great climbers have defied the danger and made great ascents without any safety gear. In Luke, we read about Jesus asking His disciples to “free climb”, but do we dare? Do we have the faith?
“And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Luke 9:1-2) Jesus was sending His disciples into the world preaching a revolutionary message known as the Gospel. At this point, Jesus understands the Gospel will offend many and ultimately lead to His crucifixion, but He still deploys His crew of 12. Furthermore, He says, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” (Luke 9:3) Jesus was sending His disciples into a firestorm, penniless and without a change of clothes. Why?
Jesus didn’t want His disciples putting their trust in any ropes or safety gear. Isaiah 26:4 says we’re to “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” The opposite of that verse could be, “Trusting in anything but God is like holding onto weak, frayed climbing ropes.” Can you trust money that always seems to run out? Ask people who’ve turned to food for comfort – is that the answer? What about clothes? Today’s fashion is in tomorrow’s yard sale pile. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength…” (Jeremiah 17:5) Jesus told the disciples to leave their weak, faulty ropes at home and to only carry their faith – which never let them down. Later on, He asks of them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything? They said, ‘Nothing.’ ” (Luke 22:35)
The rope you’re trusting, the one in your hand right now, which is it? Next week’s paycheck? A particular relationship? Hoping a certain car will give you joy? We reach for these ropes, but they’ve always failed us. This is why Jesus didn’t arm His disciples with material goods on their journey. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) What is your mind stayed on? The unbelieving world may think us crazy to free climb with Christ, but we’re the safest climbers on the mountain.