My Yoke Is Easy
by Jacob Hudgins
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light”(Matt 11:29-30)
Jesus gently calls us to him: “Come to me”. He longs for our allegiance, our submission, our trust. He promises great things to weary, life-worn man. In this thrilling passage, he calls to mind a struggling farm animal who needs only to find the right master to place upon him a lighter, better yoke. He tells us, “My yoke is easy”.
To take the easy yoke, we must acknowledge the unacceptability of our present situation. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”(Matt 11:28). Living for ourselves is hard! We work and strive to find happiness and contentment, but it is always just around the next corner—the next paycheck, the next upgrade, the next relationship. Doing things our way is hard! We run smack into every dead-end and find new ways to hit rock bottom. Wrestling with sin and its consequences is hard! Addiction lingers though unwelcome. Sin brings stains no scrubbing can remove. It is a cruel master—never kind, never relenting. Under this yoke, we “labor and are heavy laden”—and we must see this to know the joy of a light yoke! Without this acknowledgment, Jesus’ yoke will seem heavy and burdensome—a long list of rules and expectations. But seeing sin as it really is leaves us yearning for freedom and reprieve.
We must look to a new master—one who cares for us. “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”(Matt 11:29). Jesus does not promise freedom from restrictions, or from work—we are always under a yoke. Yet he promises a master “gentle and lowly”—one who cares more for us than himself. More, his yoke consists of us learning his ways and becoming more like him. “Learn from me” is a command rooted in love, knowing that this knowledge will make us into the best people we can ever be.
We must rejoice under the easy yoke! “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”(Matt 11:30). If we were the ox relieved of the great burden, would it be right to complain about the new, lighter burden? John reminds us “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments”(1 John 5:3). But notice that he adds, “And his commandments are not burdensome.” Perhaps when we lack the motivation or zeal for Jesus’ commands, we need to return in our minds to our old yoke and its burdens. Rejoice that Jesus loves us enough to free us from the bondage we chose—and to give us a better, easier way!
Jesus told Saul of Tarsus, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads”(Acts 26:14). Life without Jesus is hard! Don’t forget! Take up the new yoke—with its kind, caring master—without complaining. Ultimately, he promises, “I will give you rest”!