Hello Church Devotion Sept. 25, 2013


Y is for Yoke


“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.”  Matthew 11:28-30 NIV 84


We don’t talk or hear much about yoke today unless it is in regards to the yolk of an egg.  A large portion of our culture has grown up in urban to suburban areas with little exposure to the ways and life on a farm.  Even farmers have the added benefit of powered equipment that causes them to rely less on animals for plowing and moving things.  That might leave many of us wondering what Jesus is talking about when he tells us in Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

The yoke is a device that can be used to rest across the neck or shoulders of an animal or person in order for them to be controlled or to place the weight of an object on them.  Often times a yoke was used to connect animals such as oxen to plows or other items that needed to be pulled or moved.  So then we are left wondering what burden is Jesus asking us to take upon ourselves?  How can we find rest with a weight laid upon us like a yoke?  As we ponder this and see the context around what Jesus is saying we begin to realize what he means.

Jesus is offering to remove the yoke of other items in our life and replace it with his yoke and his teaching.  The yoke we carry apart from Christ includes sin, the law and all its demands, and much more that depend upon our own actions.  With Christ comes freedom from sin and death and places a yoke upon us that no longer must be carried by ourselves but one that rests fully upon Christ’s own shoulders.  His yoke is light because it is in Christ’s death and resurrection that the weight of sin has been removed and the law of God has been fulfilled freeing us from the guilt that left us empty and dejected.  “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.”  (Galatians 5:1)  Christ carries the burden so that we can be set free.

In that freedom we are blessed with being able to learn from him also.  We learn to focus outside of ourselves and to care for those around us.  If we reflect for a second and our honest we will realize that a lot of our burdens are inwardly focused and neglect others.  The burden of our sin causes us to get so focused on our own shortcomings that it almost cripples us from being able to act in love towards others.  The attempts to fulfill the law by our own actions can have the same crippling effect that leaves us depleted and unable to reach out in love.  Christ’s yoke takes away these things and points us to a better way, his way.  Christ teaches us to be self-sacrificing and to care for others as ourselves.  He not only taught this but he lived it out in his death and resurrection.

As we continue to learn and grow through the hearing of God’s word we should be reminded of the burden of Christ and the yoke he has asked us to carry.  His burdened is full of love, grace, and mercy that he longs for us to share and live out with others each and every day.  He doesn’t want us to add undue burdens to others as the early church slipped into doing.  “Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.’  The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: ‘Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe.  God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.   Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?  No!  We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”  (Acts 15:5-11)  Let us not slip back into the same mindset we had before Christ placed his yoke upon us.  Christ has set us free so let us not return to the burden of sin and the law.  We are set free to share the gospel of Christ and the hope we have in him with everyone around us.  Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light.  Thanks be to God.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, we are bombarded with the pressure from all sides to meet certain criteria and to live a certain way and yet no matter how hard we try we seem to come up short.  Lord, help us to remember your saving grace that never comes up short.  God, I just want to thank you for sending Jesus to take our sin and burdens to the cross and forgiving us of our short comings.  Lord, continue to teach us your ways and to help us to remember that your burden is light and your yoke is easy.  Lord, help me not to add any burden to others but to point them to you the one who promises rest for the weary and strength for the weak.  Amen.

Further Thoughts:

1.       Where have you placed extra burdens upon yourself that are unwarranted?


 
2.       How might you remind yourself and others of Christ’s yoke in tough situations?


 
3.       God doesn’t promise that life will be easy but he does promise rest.  In what ways do you see that rest in your life?