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Matthew 11

Matthew 11

Yoke

This chapter ends with one of the coolest yet most misunderstood passages. For the longest time, I had a hard time understanding what Jesus was saying. Look again at what Jesus says in verses 28-30:

“Come to me, all 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.”

Jesus says he’s going to give us rest, but then he says he’s going to put his yoke on us. If you don’t know what a yoke is, it’s not the inside of an egg. No, it is a thick piece of wood which links two animals used to pull something like a plow or carriage. So Jesus is going to give me rest by putting a big piece of wood on my shoulders? That doesn’t make sense.

Well, let’s explore this a little deeper. First, we need to remember that Jesus is a rabbi. A rabbi is a Jewish teacher. Jewish boys would start school at the age of six, and begin learning (and memorizing!) the Scriptures. At about 13 or 14, most boys would finish school and learn the family business from their father.

But those who showed great potential would be chosen by the rabbi to continue their learning. They would spend the next several years following the rabbi and learning about God and the Scriptures. Their goal was to become just like their rabbi in everything.

And when the rabbi chose someone to follow him, this is what the rabbi would say: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” The yoke is his teaching, or understanding of the Scriptures. So Jesus is a rabbi, and he’s telling these young men who have been rejected by the other rabbis, “I’m choosing you to be my followers. I believe you have what it takes to be like me.”

And Jesus says it to you. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” He is choosing you. It is incredible when you think about it.

“But I don’t want to carry a yoke. I’ve got enough stuff going on in my life. I already feel dragged down.”

The purpose of a yoke isn’t to burden an animal. The animal is already burdened; he’s pulling a plow or wagon. No, the purpose of a yoke is to allow that animal to share the load with another animal.

So the other thing Jesus is saying is “I know life is tough. Let me help you. Link up with me, and we’ll do this together. Put my yoke on, and we’ll be a team. Life will be easier, not because I’ll get rid of your problems, but because I’m going to be with you every step of the way to carry those burdens with you. Learn from me how to deal with life.”

Are you burdened? Are you stressed? Worried? Worn out? Accept Jesus’ invitation. Follow him. Learn from him. Spend your time with him. Become just like him. He will help you with life. He will give you rest.

 

Prayer for Today

Jesus, I’m tired. Life is stressful. It’s tough. And I need help. I need your help. Jesus, I want to take your yoke upon me. I need you to help me with life. I want to learn from you, and I want to become like you. Help me to do that, Lord. Help me to be like you, Rabbi. Amen.

 

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.” Psalm 62.1

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