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 (NASV)
“My yoke” is of course the key phrase. The Lord did not say, “come to me and I will remove all yokes.” So what does this mean? How is this not just another yoke and not a contradiction?
“And learn.” This verb describes a process of discipleship, of the journey in growth and Christ like change.
The key idea is to acquire a custom or habit through practice. Do you get it? The Lord is talking about more than the simple acquisition of information. He has in mind a change of life, a transformed life-style through an intimate relationship with Him.
For I am gentle… you shall find rest… and My load is light. Matthew 11:29b-30 (NASV)
This, as far as I know, is the only place where the Lord tells us what His person is really like, but this description tells us why taking His yoke is not just taking up another yoke. What is His point? “For I am gentle … Do not fear my yoke for I am not like your previous masters. I am gentle and humble. You suffer now because your present masters (the world system, Satan, and your own sinful nature) are haughty, proud, and dominating.”
To take Christ’s yoke means to submit to His person as the one who is gentle and meek, as one who is gentle and caring and concerned for us. It means to put yourself under His leading, to join yourself together with Him, but the difference is, He is the yoke mate and this is how He can give rest. How can we submit to the Savior’s yoke? The answer is found in the command “to learn from me.”
He is calling us to serve, but we work and serve in the strength which He gives. He is always there beside us pulling the weight for us, if we will only yield our lives to Him. The only time the load becomes overbearing is when we try to take over and do the pulling, or handle the load ourselves.
Many of us call ourselves “disciples” but do we have the right? We have responded to Him as our Savior, we have come to Him, but when He seeks to slip the yoke around our necks to join Him, well, we resist, we back off, we refuse to truly listen and submit to His Word and acknowledge His authority.
We really refuse to trust in His gentleness and goodness. We look at the yoke and think it does not fit when in reality, it is designed perfectly for us in that it is designed to make us like Him, but also because it is tailor made for us.
Max Lucado tells a story of growing up on the ranch, where his Dad and Max used to break horses to ride and then train them for various tasks according to their abilities and breeding.
Always, the first thing we did was to get their trust. We then trained them to reign, to turn and stop on a dime, back up, follow a calf, and stand quietly and poised in a shoot ready to launch after a calf, etc. Some we trained as cutting horses, and some as roping horses. But first there was the process of gently caring for them. We brushed them, trimmed their hoofs, fed them, and halter broke them so we could lead them from one place to another. We would often tie the younger horse to an older and stronger horse and lead it around the corral. Then, when large enough to carry a rider, we would step up and into the saddle while the young horse was tied close to the saddle horn of the larger horse. Sometimes, because the young horse so trusted us, this last step was not even necessary. Then came the process of teaching the horse to respond to the reigns and other cues.
These young horses didn’t like the new conditions at first. It scared them and they liked their freedom, but in time, through the gentleness of the trainer who loved the horse and through the example of the older horse, they became trained and learned to love what they did. It was not burdensome. They often had to work hard and would work up a sweat, but they loved it. It was a yoke fitted for their abilities and their natural instincts.
So the Savior promised, “For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” It is tailor made for each of us and furthermore, He is always there with us to bear the burden.
Dear Lord Jesus, please help us to come to You when we are weary and heavy-ladened with the cares of this world. There is so much chaos and confusion in our present world. We can get caught up in the hype and the fear that raises its ugly head on the news cycles. Help us to seek Your face and to rest in perfect confidence that You are in control. The yoke that you ask us to wear is light because You carry the load. You are our wonderful Savior and we love You. Help us to demonstrate to the world in word and deed that our trust is in You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.