The Light Yoke

April 24, 2013

Matthew 11:28-30

I grew up on a dairy farm in Connecticut.  By the time I was a boy in the 1950’s, my father farmed no longer with horses but with tractors.  We had two Farmall tractors, a 1939 A and a 1953 H.  But having lived in Amish country in Pennsylvania, I have seen many teams of horses pulling various equipment, wagons and buggies.  I have never seen a farmer, Amish or otherwise, use a yoke of oxen for the heavy farm work.  The beast of burden of choice, especially for the Amish, is the horse.

But I understand the concept of a yoke when pulling with oxen.  Just examine the photo at the top and you can see the heavy wooden curved neck piece, and the two steam-bent neck braces.  The design is to enable two oxen to pull together, to share the load of the pull.  If the yoke is built right, it is comfortable on the necks of the oxen and the pull of the pair can be powerful.

Jesus invites us who are trying to pull along our burdens to team up with Him.  He says in Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)…

    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 humble in heart, and
    you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Now imagine a yoke designed for a pair to pull together, but one side is ten times or more the size of the other!  Guess who is going to shoulder the oversized side and carry the heaviest part of the burden?  It is Jesus Christ, the Lord, omnipotent Son of God and God the Son!  He, by far, carries the most weight of any burden a believer asks Him to share.  And I know – and so do you – that the burdens of life can really weigh us down, to the point where we do not think we can go on for another step with such weight on our shoulders.  It may be physical problems – yourself or a loved one.  It may be relational tension between a husband and wife and/or other family members.  It may be financial burdens that seem to crush us.  Maybe it is struggling with emotional or mental illness.  Eliphaz said it in Job 5:7: “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”  Last I checked, sparks from a fire do fly upward!

Jesus said to come to Him “…all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  But notice that it is still a yoke, designed for two to pull together.  So He will not totally relieve you of something to carry.  But what He asks you to bear is easy and light by comparison to what you bring to Him.  As a matter of fact, Psalm 55:22 (NKJV) gives us an idea of just how much the Lord is willing to carry: “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you….”  It does not say “He will sustain the burden that you cast upon Him.”  It says He “…shall sustain YOU….”  Guess what?  We are the burden He carries!  He sustains both us and our burdens!  That’s a load to carry!

Isaiah 43:3 and 4 confirms this idea.  God is speaking to Israel, but the principle applies to us today.  He is telling the Jews that the false gods of the surrounding heathen nations will not deliver their devotees from captivity.  Those gods are lifeless idols, and they will be loaded upon beasts of burden and carted away, weighing down those weary beasts carrying them.  But in contrast, God says to His people…

    Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel,
    which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb:  and
    even to your old age I am He; and even to hoar [white] hairs will I carry you:
    I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

So if Jesus invites us to come to Him and give Him our burdens – which includes ourselves! – what then is it that He asks us to take up and carry?  What will give rest for our souls and is an easy yoke and a light burden?

The key is Mark 8:34-37, and we will look at that in our next blog.

But do not wait to come to Him with your burdens.  Tell the Lord your problems, and He will greatly lighten your load, even if you do not yet know the dynamics of how He does it.

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