Yoke and Purpose

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

A yoke is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. It is also synonymous with oppression, domination, enslavement, bondage, and tyranny. So why would Jesus use the term as a way of persuasion, for the encouragement of finding rest due to submitting to Him? It seems counter-initiative. Oppression, domination, enslavement, bondage, and tyranny are not restful concepts, nor do two working animals look as though they are in a state of rest when they are under a yoke.

What exactly is Jesus getting at?

Let’s look at what He says…

“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

The first sentence is pretty straight forward, and there is nothing about it which should give one pause. It’s not controversial, and it seems quite reasonable actually. Christ will give rest to the weary and burdened. No problem here. There’s really nothing worth resisting, frankly.

Let’s look at the second sentence:

“All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.”

Now, this is interesting. Jesus is promoting the taking of His yoke, thus, the ones who will take up His yoke will learn from Him (who is gentle and humble at heart), and as a result they will find rest for themselves. It seems as though whatever is learned seems to be the key as to why rest occurs, even though one is yoked.

Could it be that when the yoke is put on, one’s perspective then changes? Could it be that after being yoked, one is no longer wondering aimlessly alone, without purpose, devoid of direction, disordered, and lacking accomplishment?

I suspect that there is a deep and profound lesson being offered here for the person who rebels against God’s authority. Think about it. The yoked animal is given purpose. It is set to walk a straight line, and prepare the ground to receive seed. A rebellious animal would never cooperate in being used for the good purpose of properly driving a plow, nor less welcome a yoke upon its neck.

The third sentence simply sums up the first two:

“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Having a sense of purpose is quite fulfilling. When life has meaning, life matters. It causes one’s soul to rest. Unfortunately, Israel turned away from God’s intention for them. As a result, they suffered oppression, domination, enslavement, bondage, and tyranny from Babylon for 70 years…

Jeremiah 6:16
“Thus says the Lord,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

I pray that we (Christians) will continue to wear His yoke and recognize its purpose.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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