If you have been listening to my sermons for any length of time, you have probably heard me talk about Jesus’ easy yoke. But do you know what a yoke is?
In Jesus’ day, a yoke was a device used to join two oxen together so they could work side-by-side in the field. For maximum productivity, the technique typically employed was to take a young “teenage” ox who had a lot of energy but didn’t know what to do and yoke him to an older, calmer ox who was relaxed and already knew how to plow the field. The yoke was made of wood and crafted by a carpenter, who would take measurements and uniquely fashion it to fit each of the animals.
It’s not surprising that Jesus used this example in His teaching, because in His day, a yoke was also frequently likened to a Rabbi’s teaching (today you might liken it to being tied to a particular denomination). Unfortunately, the yoke of a Rabbi was often hard because it was linked to the law. In one form or another, it encompassed 613 rules that had to be followed in very precise ways. On the contrary, Jesus did away with that burdensome teaching and replaced it with a yoke that is pleasant and light — one in which He does the heavy lifting.
Friend, Jesus’ yoke is never going to weigh you down or break your neck! He will not hold you to an endless list of specifications that you must meet before you earn his approval — that’s what religion does. Instead, He sets you free from the bondage of having to perform and allows you to come as you are — wounds, hurts, scars, flaws and all. He welcomes you to find rest in His presence as you exchange your heaviness for His eternal happiness. Isn’t that wonderful news?