Jesus said, “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 lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Mt. 11:28-31
The idea of Jesus’ yoke can scare disciples. What is the alternative to the yoke He offers? If I turn Him down and say no to His yoke, will I enjoy autonomy and avoid yokes of any kind? That won’t happen. Freedom from yokes is not possible.
Oh, there are so many kinds, too. I’ve worn the yoke of shame. How about you? I’ve labored under the yoke of perfectionism? Have you? I’ve suffered from the taunts of self-condemning voices that were spurred on by legalism. Does that sound familiar at all to you? There are all kinds of yokes conceived in the kingdom of darkness. There’s only one yoke in Jesus’ kingdom. He made it simple. Unless we wear the one He offers, we will suffer from chains that oppress us.
It is this reality that constrains me to teach this series. Jesus offers us the gracious alternative to languishing under yokes of bondage. He wants to free us, to break the chains of oppressive yokes in order to see us thrive and find rest under the yoke He offers.
What a beautiful offer in Matthew 11. I read it again slowly and marvel that He assures that His yoke won’t make me weary and burdened. Just the opposite. His yoke brings rest to my soul. How can that be? I recently read (and I can’t remember where) that Jesus refers to the yoke as ‘His yoke’ first. What was His yoke? Coming to earth to redeem me. He called it easy. How can that be? Because it is love for me that compelled Him.
Could it be that this is the secret to putting on His yoke? I can take on His yoke and it will be easy for me too because of my love for Him. I love Him because He first loved me. If I take on His yoke out of duty, it will be too heavy. If I take it on to prove that I can do it, I will be drained by lack of relationship. Only love makes it possible.
His yoke is the only one I’ll accept because His love is behind the invitation. All other yokes come from the enemy of my soul. His aim is never to love. He entices, yes, but then entraps, torments, condemns, burdens, and a host of other atrocities too numerous to mention. In the end, all will bring us to destruction.
Oh Lord Jesus, I flirt with yokes that are not of you every single day. Some, I wore a long time before I found the freedom inside Your love. Show us as Your children what Satan’s yolks are. Name them. I want to belong to and serve none other. Amen