Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:28-29, NLT*
This much-loved and often-quoted passage brings comfort and hope. Most times we focus on words like ‘rest, teach, humble, gentle,’ and again ‘rest.’ We skip over the ‘yoke’ part.
I’ve often heard the teaching about the yoke being for two oxen, and how a new, untrained animal would be paired with an experienced one to learn how to pull the plow. Jesus, the thought goes, is the experienced teacher, and we, learning to work alongside Him, are the novices.
That makes good sense, but let’s look at the yoke for a minute. Jesus says it’s His. He may or not mean He’s wearing it, since He did indeed come to serve by showing us how to live for God.
It’s also His because the Teacher, Shepherd, Suffering Servant is also the Master.
On our own, we get frazzled, weary, and definitely overburdened. The soul-rest Jesus offers isn’t about collapsing under a shade tree for a nap, though. It’s about dropping the loads we were never designed to carry and taking up the load He has for us.
There’s still work involved, but now we’re working under the direction of a Master who loves us, a God whose compassion sent Him to die to rescue us. He knows our weakness, and His Spirit gives us strength.
Sovereign Lord God, You are our rightful ruler and King. Forgive us for the times we try to live under our own leadership, and the stresses and messes we get into. Help us to surrender to Your authority, and open our spirits to Your Spirit’s direction and strength. Thank You that the path of serving You is a path of fulfillment and soul-rest.
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.