“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from 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 ESV)
Jesus came into the world to save his people from their sins and to give them rest for their souls. He offers a yoke to wear on our shoulders, and not just any yoke but His yoke. A yoke was placed on the shoulders of an animal to help them to pull a heavy load. All yokes were designed to make the burden of pulling or plowing less painful. The Jewish Rabbis spoke of the Law as a yoke. And obedience to the law was a requirement to be in right standing with God. But, unlike the Pharisees who added their traditions to the Law and made it difficult to follow, Jesus came to lift the burden of attempting to keep the law in ones’ own strength and to show us a better way.
The “Jesus way” is still a narrow and difficult way and discipleship or apprenticeship to him is costly. But, when we are yoked with Jesus, he provides the Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome impossible situations, humanly speaking. Jesus’ view of being yoked to the law and obedience is the result of a love relationship with God – not just legalistic rule keeping, without the power of his presence. Jesus offers an intimate friendship with God – and the indwelling of his Spirit so that we can commune with him on a deeply personal level.
This “new and living way” has Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus invites us to be empowered by his grace and to live by faith in him, who is the radiance of God ‘s glory and the exact imprint of God’s nature. And He still upholds the universe with the word of his power (Heb. 1:30.) Why would we not give to our Creator the load we try so hard to carry ourselves on a daily basis?
The call of Jesus to “come to me” is initially for salvation, but it is also an ongoing call to each of his sheep, who so easily stray away – to come back to him and abide in his presence. We as followers of “the Way” so easily lose our way and begin to take on heavy loads that our shoulders were not designed to carry. The good news is that the carpenter from Nazareth has constructed a yoke that is especially designed for us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, please remind me every time that I try in vain to live the Christian life in my own strength, that it is the pathway to failure. Help me to accept Jesus’ invitation to come to him on a daily basis. Amen