“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” An invitation from Jesus for rest. I shared this verse last week in Put Your Apron On, it is only in Jesus that we can truly “experience a refreshing, to pause from our precious toil and care”.
This invitation for rest, however, comes with additional instructions. Jesus is inviting us to not only come but to take up His yoke, to put it on, and to learn from him.
“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.”
There is so much we can learn from these few verses. This is not a mere invitation to rest, it’s so much more.
What is a yoke?
The most common definition is the wooden bar placed on animals.
According to the HELP Word Studies, the Greek word for yoke is zygós – properly, a yoke; a wooden bar placed over the neck of a pair of animals so they can pull together; (figuratively) what unites (joins) two people to move (work) together as one.
It was a common practice to put a younger ox alongside a more mature and seasoned ox so that the younger could be trained for the work and would become familiar with the field and would learn how to navigate the field and how to pace itself. Also, animals that were already familiar with each other made the job easier for the one driving the oxen as the presence of a known teammate in the yoke gave the other a calming effect.
In the Bible, the yoke also meant submission, servanthood, burden. It meant coming under the teachings and instructions of a Rabbi, following him, and learning from him.
When Jesus extended this invitation it was in direct contradiction to the norm of the day. Taking up the yoke of other Rabbis was heavy and burdensome, it made it very difficult to bear up under the weight. Imagine trying to keep up with over 600 rules and regulations in addition to the 10 Commandments.
‘Easy and Light’
Jesus made the bold declaration of what His yoke is like, “easy and light.” He tells us that we can learn from Him because He is “gentle and humble in heart”. He didn’t come to add more burdens to a people already weary of rules and regulations but was nowhere closer to a relationship with God.
Jo Saxton says, “Jesus used the image of a yoke to invite people into the kind of close relationship with Him where He is the experienced leader, pulling the weight, carrying the burden, and tethered to us.”
“The yoke Jesus offers is not oppressive. The people did not find rest under the expectation of the Pharisees and their harsh system. In contrast, Jesus’s yoke is custom made for His people. It fits just right and is fully suited to the lives we live. In Jesus, we no longer have to weary ourselves in the busyness that seeks to prove our worth.” ( Jo Saxton, The Dream of You)
What yoke have you been under? What is weighing you down? Whose opinion is chafing you?
What rules, regulations and judgment have you been buckling under? Are you exhausted and worn out trying to prove your worth?
Recover your life
Don’t you think it’s time to consider Jesus’ invitation? What would your life look like? What would your relationship with Christ look like?
Whose disciple will you be?
In order to take up this yoke, you’ve got to lay down that old, chafing yoke. It’s time to recover your life, who you are meant to be, it’s time to learn the “unforced rhythms of grace”.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (The Message)