Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
What a beautiful invitation! Likely you are one of the millions of people who are weary and burdened, living day-to-day, with depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, addiction, or any of a host of other joy-deflating, progress-stopping, hardships. However you define it, it is the weight of sin pushing you down and back every waking minute. You might say, Wait a minute, my problem isn’t sin, it is, (fill in the blank) my co-workers, my schedule, my bank account, my disability, my spouse, etc. the possible list is endless. But, dear one, those are just the symptoms, triggers, or results of a life that is not properly aligned, a life without peace.
Jesus’ invitation to everyone who is burdened by the weight of a hard life is to come to Him for rest, relief, friendship, forgiveness, and alignment for life. The rest He gives comes in the form of being yoked together with Him.
A yoke of oxen is a two-animal team joined together by a wooden crosspiece, the yoke, which is fastened over the necks of both animals. The yoke would be attached to the plow or cart the team would be pulling. An experienced animal would be paired with an inexperienced one to carry most of the weight and teach the young one, by example, how the job is done.
When we are yoked together with Jesus, He takes the weight of our individual burdens and exchanges them with His yoke. We join Him, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings in His yoke where we learn from Him. He leads with humility and gentleness and teaches us to walk in God’s way, which is in obedience to His commandments, the principles He taught during His earthly life.
We learn from His example of humility and gentleness how to conduct ourselves in life in obedience to the things that He taught.
“If you love me, keep my commandments.” John 14:15
“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all things, whatsoever I have commanded, and lo, I will be with you always, even unto the end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. John 14:21
Walking with Jesus, yoked together with Him, following His direction, learning from Him, we find that keeping His commands isn’t as hard as when we were trying on our own. By His presence, aligned with Him, His yoke is easy to bear. And the burden is light, so much lighter than the weight of my sin, carried alone, hopelessly, through life.
This exchange of my yoke of bondage, for His yoke of obedience, is the Good News! You don’t have to go through life weighed down by bondage to sin, you can be free. But the freedom won’t be a life loosed to pursue the selfish ends of the flesh, but the freedom of being joined to Jesus, being taught by Him, and walking in obedience to what He taught. Herein we find rest for our souls.