November 14, 2020
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).
Back in Arkansas in the 1960s, my best friend’s father use to plow some of his fields with a team of horses. He has a perfectly good John Deere tractor in his barn, but he liked to get back to his roots by preparing the land for planting the ‘old school’ way. The horses worked side by side and were attached to each other with a harness. It’s the same thing as a yoke, but a yoke is made out of wood and is heavy while a harness is made out of leather straps and is lighter.
There were several purposes to a yoke. One was to give added strength to the effort of pulling a load. Two horses yoked together can pull a wagon easier than one. Two strands of rope woven together are stronger than a single strand of rope.
Another purpose of a yoke was for teaching and training. That’s the emphasis of Jesus in this text, take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. Quite often a person would ‘yoke’ a younger horse, cow, or ox to an older, more seasoned and experienced animal to teach the younger one how to pull a load effectively and efficiently. The younger animal would be trained by the older one on the meaning of commands (‘get up now’; ‘gee’/‘haw’; ‘woah’: go; right/left; stop, etc.) and how to pull the load in concert with each other, making the task easier for both of them.
Christians are to be workers with Jesus Christ in His kingdom. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38). How do we do that? What do we do? Just as Jesus trained His disciples to evangelize and minister, so He teaches us through His Word (the Bible) and by the leadership of His Holy Spirit who lives within us. We are to be his co-workers by taking His yoke upon us and walking, serving, ministering with Him. We learn from Jesus Christ by learning Jesus Christ. He is our Teacher and our example. Since the goal of the Christian life is to be conformed to His image (Romans 8:29), we must work as He works and rest as He rests.
One more thought about the yoke. When two animals are yoked together they walk together, they work together in the same field together, down the same road together. One does not get ahead of the other, nor does one lag behind the other. They stay together working in concert with each other. That is the Christian life, the Christ-life, side-by side with Jesus until the task is done.
“Lord Jesus, what a privilege it is to walk with You, to serve You, and to minister to others along side You. You have taught me so much thus far in life and ministry. I know there is much more to learn and much more to do. Keep me near Your side always so that I can continue to bring honor and glory to Your name, and with others I can extend Your Kingdom here in this place. Amen.”