In Jesus’ day, a rabbi’s teaching was called a yoke. The teaching-yoke of the religious leaders was an endless list of laws, rules, traditions, and expectations that no one could live up to!
But Jesus offered to free the people from this deadly yoke of legalism. Jesus opened his heart to anyone who would listen and offered his life-giving yoke of love:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
If you are a type A person “This teaching on the easy yoke is just what you need to hear!” The A type person thinks “I overwork and don’t leave enough time to rest in the Lord. But I don’t want fill in the blank __________ to hear this — he or she is already too lax about their Christian responsibilities!”
But we need to clearly hear what Jesus is saying, “Jesus isn’t inviting us to slack off — he’s offering to put a yoke on us!”
Probably we want the “easy,” but not the “yoke.” Yokes are binding and they’re for working hard!
The yoke that Jesus is referring to is a heavy wooden harness that fits over the shoulders of two oxen. It’s used to attach them, neck to neck, and hitch up them up to a plow that they are to pull across a field to prepare it for planting a crop.
First, the new ox needs to be “broken in.” To train a young ox wise farmers are careful not to pair it with another young ox or an ox that’s been poorly trained. Young oxen might be strong and energetic, but they don’t know how to wear the yoke and they don’t know how to pull the plow. They jerk and strain to try to get out of the yoke. They charge forward to rush to the end of the job, chaffing their necks and choking themselves. Or they try to wander off to graze in a meadow.
But if you take a young ox and pair it with a mature ox who has been well-trained then it learns. The lead ox shows the younger how to wear the yoke loosely and lightly. It pulls the brunt of the weight of the plow and leads the younger one to pull the plow slow and steady, step-by-step, straight-ahead — without getting bruised or worn out.
Jesus is the mature ox we need to learn to carry the yoke. Jesus adapts his yoke according to your needs — so don’t compare yourself to other people!
Over the next few weeks I will share the Yoke that Jesus invvites us to take up. I starts with coming to Jesus. Jesus is the answer to all of lifes needs.
So if you feel burdened. If you feel loaded up to here. If you feel like you are a hopeless hypocrite and you need Jesus. The good news is He is standing at the door of your heart knocking and he will come in and dine with anyone who opens the door to him.
Maybe you have done that but there are rooms in your heart you are ashamed to open or afraid to open. He stands waiting and desiring to enter in and to Yoke himself to you.