“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 11:29-30.
Jesus used the picture of yoked oxen plowing a field. When you join two oxen in one yoke, the plowing becomes easier. Christ wants us to be yoked with Him so that we can learn from Him what it means to walk with God.
The Wrong Yoke
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” Gal.5:1.
This yoke of slavery is the yoke of self-effort. This is a heavy yoke because we try to do it all in our own strength. This is not the yoke that Jesus was talking about. There are three yokes mentioned in the Bible which are the wrong yokes:
- The yoke of the law (Acts 15:10; Galatians 5:4).
- The yoke of the world (Jam.4:4; 1 Pet.2:11,20; 2 Pet.1:4).
- Yoke of the flesh (Lamentations 1:14; John 8:34; Romans 8:8).
Each of these yokes are heavy and oppressive, not only because we have to carry the yoke ourselves, but also because we are yoked to the judgment of God.
Breaking the Old Yoke
“For when we were controlled by the [flesh], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code” Romans 7:5-6.
Jesus refuses to be yoked with our old self (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). That means if He wants us to be yoked with Him, He must first destroy the old yoke. And that is exactly what Jesus did at the Cross.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” Romans 6:6.
Yoked to Jesus
God wants us to be yoked with Christ. This means that Jesus carries the heaviest load. This is why His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light.” His strength, righteousness and life are transferred to us. His footsteps become our footsteps. This is how the Christian life has been designed to work.
“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:27.
Spending Time with Jesus
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught” Isaiah 50:4.
Jesus didn’t just tell us to take His yoke upon us. He also told us to learn from Him. This kind of learning does not come from being in a classroom. It only comes from a daily walk with Jesus. We do not just learn about Him. We learn from Him.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you” Psalm 32:8-9 (see 25:4-5; 51:6; 86:11).
The time we spend with the Lord can be of two types:
Waiting on God
“But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me” Psalm 131:2.
To wait on the Lord means to spend unhurried time in His presence. We have quieted our soul. This means that we are not trying to get anything out of God. We are content just to spend time with Him. As we wait on God, we gain strength (Isa.40:31) and hear the quiet voice of God (1 Kings 19:11-13; Isa.30:21).
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning” Psalm 130:5-6.
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple” Psalm 27:4 (see also 34:10; 1 Chronicles 16:11).
To seek God means to actively pursue Him. Seeking is the result of a heart burning with love for God (Psalm 63:1-8). When we seek God, we are desiring to know Him better. God promises to answer those who seek Him (Jer.29:13; Matt.7:7).
“My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, Lord, I will seek” Psalm 27:8 (see also 105:4; Hosea 10:12).
Becoming a Daily Christian
“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” Psalm 118:24.
God wants us to be daily Christians, not weekly ones. Being a Christian is not just about going to church once a week. It is not even about how many meetings we go to in the week. It is about living in a daily walk with Jesus. This means that every day we:
- Pray (Luke 11:3).
- Spend time in God’s word (Matt.4:4; Heb.3:7; 4:7).
- Experience God’s grace (2 Corinthians 4:16; 6:1-2).
- Fellowship together (Acts 2:42,46-47; Hebrews 3:13).
- Work with God (John 5:17).
- Take up our cross and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23).
When we start off the day with Jesus, we continue through the day yoked to Him. When distractions come, the gentle yoke of Jesus will pull us back on track. As Jesus walks the straight line in His Father’s will, so we also, when we are yoked with Jesus, walk the straight line God has set for our lives. The direction Jesus takes becomes our direction.
“Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:.’Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll – I have come to do your will, O God’” Hebrews 10:5,7.