Verse of the Week
Come unto Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of 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.
Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV
Have you ever wondered just what Jesus meant when He said to take His yoke upon you? You have probably heard the analogy of the yoke of oxen with an older experienced ox yoked to a younger inexperienced ox so that the younger can learn how to pull the plow from the older, and it will be easier for him. There is certainly truth to that analogy, but is that what Jesus was really talking about?
Allow me to suggest another possibility.
“Taking the yoke” is a Hebrew idiom that was used for coming under the teaching of a rabbi. If you were in the school of a rabbi you were under his yoke. This represented his authority to teach and his knowledge, and especially his interpretation of the Scriptures.
Many of the rabbis of Jesus’s day were Pharisees. These men taught their interpretations of the Torah and also the “Oral Torah”—oral rabbinic teachings which later became the Talmud. These teachings added to the written law and made it much more difficult to keep. (This is what Jesus referred to as the traditions of men which He continually spoke out against.) In other words, their yoke was heavy and hard to bear.
Jesus taught with authority and with perfect understanding of the Law given to Moses by His Father. He alone was qualified to perfectly interpret and teach from the Scriptures. He taught with grace and love. And He alone knew what was to come, when He would give His own body as a ransom for the world, to free us from the burden of sin and from having to earn our salvation. This is why His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
When we come to Jesus in belief and obedience and learn from His Holy Word, we come under His yoke. He has promised that He will give us rest from our labor and the heavy burden of sin. He does the work for us. We only need to abide with Him, and learn from Him as we are yoked to Him in eternal relationship.
Live it out this week
Have you yoked yourself to Jesus, through belief in Him and all that He has accomplished for you? That is your only requirement to come under His yoke.
If you are not already doing so, make it a habit to learn from Him by reading His Word and hiding it in your heart. Share what you learn with others so that they, too, can take His yoke upon them.
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending Your Son, Jesus, to save us. Thank you that we can be forever yoked to Him because of His sacrifice of Himself for us. We gladly come under His yoke and allow Him to bear all the weight for us. We are overwhelmed by this great blessing and privilege. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.
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