28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
ESV - 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
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Each of us serves a master (whether we conceive of it that way or not). Either we serve God or we serve sin. In fact, since we are incapable through our own effort of freeing ourselves from sin, that makes us sin's slaves, and that yoke of slavery is a heavy one, since it will lead to eternal separation from God. Christ's perfect fulfillment of the Law on our behalf frees us from that yoke through faith in Him, which allows His righteousness to be imputed to us. The yoke that we then assume as His followers is not a yoke of slavery to sin, or even of the impossible burden of having to perfectly obey the Law, but a yoke of grateful and joyful service to God for a salvation that we have already received, and that is incomparably lighter than the former yoke that we bore.
When we try to live the Christian life in our own strength, like the Jews tried to do in keeping the Mosaic law, it is heavy and hard work, because we are paddling upstream in a world going downstream in corruption and decay. When we focus on deepening our relationship with Jesus, he teaches us how to paddle and where to navigate in the river to find the eddies and sand bars so we can rest. When we study the bible, pray, worship, serve and share our story we are filled with the Holy Spirit who gives us all the wisdom and strength that we need to accomplish the work that our Father has already planned for us to do, and it won't be burdensome at all. Everyone needs rest; Jesus needed rest. But as Jesus also said, I get my food and rest by doing the will of my Father in heaven. We can too, when we walk by faith and are led by the Spirit.
A yoke means work, as originally oxen were united together to farm land. Yokes meant heavy, hard work because the yokes themselves were heavy and wooden (crossbars) which were utilized to connect 2 oxen together to plow more efficiently than the one man behind the horse/ox idea. But Jesus is using a paradox here (which He loved/loves to do). Jesus contrasts the load of doing the Law with the light burden of obeying His teachings (with His help, of course). Help us, O Lord, Thy yoke to wear, Delighting in Thy perfect will; Each other’s burden learn to bear, And thus Thy law of love fulfill.
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