“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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
* * * * *
So, what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word yoke? If not an egg, sunny-side up, I would bet it’s a team of oxen trudging their way across a field. You know, those steady beasts of burden plowing up the dry, hard ground.
Being cinched into a yoke is not a real inviting picture. It normally implies a heavy load and hard work – possibly being in slavery or bondage to another. For Jesus to use the picture of a yoke in the same invitation to “come and rest” may seem a bit odd.
It would be real easy to encourage ourselves or others with the rest of God and then skip over the next couple of verses about the yoke. But Jesus never spoke out of turn. He chose His words very carefully, listening always to the Father.
The Israelites listening to Jesus speak were painfully aware of the burden they carried. Their lives revolved around a strict set of laws and sacrifices. They knew that everything from eating to work had to be done to a specific standard in order to be in right standing with God. Even when a sacrifice was made to cover their sin and shortcomings, they walked away with the weight of knowing there would have to be another. The standard of the Law was simply unattainable.
In stark contrast, Jesus extends to us an invitation of complete forgiveness, freedom, and rest at the price of His own life, death, and resurrection. Jesus fulfilled the Law’s every demand and became the perfect and final sacrifice for all sin, for all time.
In breaking the yoke of slavery to the Law, Jesus now offers you a yoke of grace.
This yoke of grace is truly the most beautiful gift Jesus could give. It is “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness” (Strong’s Concordance, G5485).
Maybe you haven’t really thought about this yoke before. Or you don’t think you’re very interested in it. I’d like to share a few things that I’ve realized as I’ve been pondering.
First, it is a yoke of intimate relationship.
“See how very much our Father loves us, for He
calls us His children, and that is what we are!”
I John 3:1a
Second, it’s a yoke of relentless love.
“For God loved the world so much that
He gave His one and only Son…”
It is also a yoke of divine unity.
“I (Jesus) have given them the glory You gave Me, so they may be one as We are one.
I am in them, and You are in Me. May they experience such perfect unity
that the world would know that You sent Me and that You love them as much as You love Me.”
Jesus’ yoke is a yoke of sovereign wisdom.
“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display His wisdom
in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
It is a yoke of the perfect joy.
“When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love,
just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.
I have told you this so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
It’s also a yoke of unwavering peace.
“I (Jesus) am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don’t be troubled or afraid.”
Finally, Jesus’ yoke is one of eternal hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ”
This list is certainly incomplete. Still, I hope it serves as a reminder:
When you step into the yoke of Christ, you step into life abundant.
No longer must you rely on your own strength or abilities, your own goodness and well-intentions. You have inherited the life of Christ – living in you. Living through you.
“And now I entrust you to God and the message of His grace
that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those
He has set apart for Himself.”
Find more of Amy’s encouragement in Finding Beauty in the Process.
Amy Layne Litzelman is passionate about knowing God more intimately in each moment and helping others do the same. Amy released her first book, This Beloved Road: A Journey of Revelation and Worship, in 2011. She has also composed over seventy songs, recorded four CDs, and traveled to teach and lead worship across the United States and in the Philippines and China. She and her husband, Matt, live in Jackson Hole, WY and have two adult sons.
Click here to learn more about gifted faith writer Amy Layne Litzelman.