Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30 [NLT]
28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, New King James Version)
Observation: (What do you see when you read this scripture?)
To set the scene, Jesus has just finished rebuking the towns and villages that He had done many wonderful miracles in. Towns which ultimately rejected Him and did not turn from their sins. I see Him not in a stance of anger or condemnation, but having a yearning compassion to reach the people who so stubbornly turn their backs on Him. It is their man-made religion that is keeping them from truly seeing Him and the freedom giving truth that He has to offer.
So, He makes a plea to them here. Really, it is a plea to all of us and he uses a common understanding of his time to give that plea weight and light.
His plea is twofold. First, “follow me” by “taking my yoke upon you” or “I will teach you if you only follow me.” Second, “If I am teaching you (yoked to you) I am humble and gentle (not seeking your obedience from fear) and I will make it easy to follow”.
A yoke is a wooden frame created to fit over the shoulders of two oxen that are harnessed in such a way that they can pull a plow together. In biblical times, a farmer would use the practice of yoking a mature ox with a young ox side-by-side.
This tactic would allow the younger ox a firsthand lesson from the older ox on how to pull the plow. And as the work commenced, it was the strength of the older ox that literally pulled the entire load. The rookie ox simply kept with the pace of its seasoned partner.
In time, the young ox would eventually pull his own weight. But for the moment, his job was to ‘learn the ropes’ and follow the older ox’s lead. The young ox may think that he is sharing the load, but it is the older ox that is actually doing all the work.
Application: (How can I apply this to my life today?)
Jesus wants to be my teacher. If I am willing He will walk side-by-side with me and take much of the weight upon himself, meaning that he takes all of my sin. He will give me the peace and rest that I need to be able to actually move forward and accomplish a great work with His strength there to guide me. His power is available to me to “pull the plow” I need to simply “put the yoke on”. And I would not be putting on the yoke of a condemning overmaster, but a loving humble and gentle master who wants me to become the best me, the best Christian in the good work that I can become. So, today, I ask in prayer…
Prayer: (Speak to Him from the heart)
Today, I ask you, please help me. Please teach me. I want to be a good ox. I want to be a good servant to You, but I need Your help to accomplish anything. I take Your yoke upon myself and ask that you fill me with Your truth and spirit.
Please be with me today and if it is Your will lead someone to me that I may encourage or help to see Your Love.
Please be with my family today. Keep them all safe from harm. Be with our small bible study groups and help them to flourish in Your love and understanding. Amen.