“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 11:29-30
Speaking of Yokes…(not yolks)
If you’re like me and you don’t have a lot of experience with farming, you probably don’t think about “yokes” on a regular basis. But for the farmer who has a field that needs to be plowed, a yoke (and some oxen) is an invaluable tool for his or her livelihood. So, what exactly is a yoke?
“A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs, as oxen usually do; a yoke is a symbol of slavery, subjection, or suffering.”
Folks & Yokes
“I’m the Captain of My Own Ship.”
“I am the master of my own soul.”
Maybe you’ve heard someone make one of these statements before. It’s a declaration of independence. That is to say, “I’m not a slave to anybody.” “I’m in control of my own life!” Really? Maybe we don’t feel it around our physical necks, but there is a spiritual yoke that every person has had since Adam & Eve, and the fall of mankind.
“Gotta Serve Somebody”
Now, I don’t normally quote Bob Dylan songs, but this one pretty much hits the nail on the head. Here’s a line from the Chorus, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” It says that no matter what our status in this life, we will be serving somebody, whether it’s the Lord (and His word of Truth), or the devil (and his lies). The Bible puts it this way: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey–whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Romans 6:16
Yokes in the New Testament
A major reason that Jesus came to earth in human form was to save mankind from the penalty of sin, which is eternal damnation. By dying on the cross, Jesus paid our penalty and set us free from being slaves to sin. Hence, we are no longer yoked with, and or controlled by sin in our lives. For those of us who have received Jesus’ invitation to “come to Me,” we are now free from LAW of sin and death. Rom 8:2 – “Because through Christ Jesus, the law of spirit has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
In Galatians 5:1 we see this yoke of slavery to sin has been broken: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” So, does that mean we don’t have a yoke anymore if we’re saved?
Even Jesus Had a Yoke?
In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus “invites” us to take on His yoke. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. What kind of picture is Jesus painting for us? Is He the farmer holding the yoke up for us to slip our necks into? Or is He inviting us to pair up with Him as we learn His gentle and humble ways? Putting on His yoke means that He will be right next to us the whole time, taking on the bulk of the burden to the point where we will find rest in the midst of serving HIM! Hallelujah! Yes, we still have a master, and we will still have burdens, but as we follow Jesus, and learn from Him, He leads us beside still waters where we find rest and peace even in the midst of the worst storm.
What are you yoked to?
I meet Christians too often who are yoked to so many burdens: fear, worry, bitterness, anger, and anxiety of every kind. Obviously, Jesus did not intend His people to be “unequally yoked” with these kinds of things. I heard a quote the other day that really stuck with me, it goes like this, “Either worry or pray, but don’t do both.” Who or what are you yoked with today? Is it Jesus, or something or someone else? Where is it leading you? If you’re weary and heavy laden, come to Jesus in prayer. He will always forgive and give you rest once again.
That’s no yoke!
Jesus has set us free; free from worry and strife, anxiety and despair; free from the penalty of death and the power of sin If we will learn from Him, that is, study His Word, pray and do what He says, then we will be able to look over to our side, in any and every situation, and see Jesus right there with us in the trenches. Jesus will make our burdens so light and our yoke so easy it’ll seem like no yoke at all!
As for me…
I think I’ll just continue to say yes to Jesus’ invitation, and take my yoke “over easy.”
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