February 12, 2021

Matthew 11:29-30

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

 

In our culture today the image of a yoke is not particularly familiar. Most of us have never held a real farm yoke in our hands, nor owned or driven livestock wearing them. And yokes carried by humans are simply not used in our country these days (despite what our teenagers bearing school backpacks might say). The point is, we don’t use yokes in our world. We’ve developed much easier ways to farm, or to carry water and burdens in our daily life.

But yokes were very common in Jesus’ time, and His listeners understood the reference immediately. Picture an oxen or horse straining to drag a plow through hardened, dry ground. Or picture yourself bearing a yoke with two buckets of water hanging from each end, the yoke digging painfully into your shoulders. Sweat pours! Heart is pounding! Yokes might mean many things, but one thing is for sure: yokes meant hard work! 

So what is Jesus getting at, inviting us to take His yoke upon our shoulders? How bad is this work going to be?  

Well, as it turns out, not too bad at all! Jesus’ work will indeed be work, because we are created for work. But it will be good work! I love the overwhelming sense of confidence and comfort in Jesus’ words in our passage. “Come!” He seems to say. “You think yokes are hard work? Try my yoke upon you! It’s not like any yoke you’ve ever used before. I am humble, I am gentle, and I will never give you a crushing burden, too heavy to bear. My work is good because I am good. In fact, you will learn great things from Me, and through my work you will find a deep and profound rest for your whole being. So come! Work for me! Taste and see how good the Lord is!”  

Consider today, does your relationship with God feel like hard work, a heavy load to bear? Is walking with God a burden and a chore, or is it more a profound source of joy and peace? Is it easier for you to find rest in your Christian life, or in stress? Wherever you are, ask God today to give you a renewed and refreshed sense of who you are to Him, and who He intends you to be.

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