Monday, October 9, 2017

yoke

Come to me 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. (Matthew 11:28-30)


What yoke are you wearing these days?  It seems like a bit of an odd question, doesn't it?  What the heck is a yoke anyway?  

According to the dictionary, a yoke is a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal.  The Greek word used here is zygos, which comes from the root zeugnumi, meaning to join.  So when Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us, he is inviting us to join ourselves to him in some mysteriously intimate way.  He is inviting us to do life with him in such a way that he bears the brunt of the burden, not us.  Thus, the end result of us taking his yoke upon us is rest for our souls.  It follows that if we are weary and burdened in our lives, we must be wearing a yoke other than that of Jesus.  Someone or something has slipped in and put a load on us that we were never meant to bear.

So I ask again, what yoke are you wearing these days, and where did it come from?  What burdens are you carrying?  What load is upon you?  Is it possible that you have taken on a yoke than is not meant for you?  A load that only Jesus can carry?

An old legend goes that Jesus, being a the son of a carpenter, specialized in yokes.  People would come from miles around because he was the best.  He was the only one who could make a yoke that was perfectly fit for the animal that was to wear it.  And he does the same with each of us.  He has made a yoke that is perfectly fit for you and for me.  Why would we wear anything else?  But we do.  We continually carry burdens that are not our own.  We continually wear a yoke that was put upon us, either by ourselves, or by others, or by the world.

The yoke of this world says, "increase," but the yoke of Jesus says, "decrease."  The yoke of the world says, "climb," but the yoke of Jesus says, "descend."  The yoke of the world says, "make yourself something," but the yoke of Jesus says, "make yourself nothing."  The world's yoke will exhaust you and wear you out, but the yoke of Jesus will renew and restore you to your true self.  "My yoke fits perfectly," says Jesus, "because it was made for you.  Wear my yoke, take it upon you, and you will find rest for your souls."

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