My Yoke is Easy
by Thomas E. Kittrell
MATTHEW 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (KJV)
Are you tired and weary today? Have life's burdens and trials weighted you down, and you just need some relief? We all get that way sometimes. It may be that we have taken on too much responsibility or too many jobs. Some of us are so eager to help others that we volunteer for this and that and soon find ourselves with more to do than we can do without reaching the point of being stressed out. Sometimes it seems we can not find the time to do it all. When we get like that we are in danger of losing interest in life and in losing the enjoyments of life.
There are times when I find myself behind in my sermon preparations. Often when this happens I am still trying to catch up with or finish other projects or fulfill other obligations. I suppose all preachers experience this to some degree. It can make one question why he is still in the ministry.
Whatever stresses you out is personal, and it is very frustrating and discouraging. It is in times like this you really could use some help. Well, there is good news. There is help available, and the help comes from Jesus Christ.
It is a mistake for the believer to attempt to bear life's burdens alone in a single collar. It has never been God's intent for us to bear our burdens alone. That is why He has a yoke for us. A yoke is designed for two. And the Lord gives us the invitation to let Him be one of the two in the yoke. When we step into the yoke of Jesus we will find rest from our burdens.
My late father-in-law used to plow oxen. I have seen the wooden yoke that he used. Two oxen were harnessed together, and they both worked together. The task was much easier than it would have been for one ox to attempt it alone. The carved piece of wood was fitted to the neck and shoulders of the oxen in such a way that it would prevent chafing. The yoke was also used to control and guide the ox.
I heard about a man who was watching a farmer plow a field with a team of oxen.
The man questioned the farmer as to why one of the oxen was larger. The farmer explained to the man that the larger ox was well trained, while the smaller ox was new to the yoke. The older ox knew how to plow. The younger ox was to learn from the older, stronger one. If the younger, less experienced, and weaker ox was expected to do the plowing by his self he would soon be overworked. But while working in the yoke with the larger, stronger, and experienced ox he could not only learn but also rest in the strength of the other.
Jesus gives us an invitation to step into the yoke with Him so that our burdens will not be so heavy. Even though we will still be busy we will not be pulling the load or bearing the weight by ourselves. Jesus has been around much longer, forever in fact, and He certainly is much stronger. He has the experience. He has the compassion. He takes on most of the burden Himself. His yoke is easy because He is doing the most of the work.
When we get to the point we are stressed out we need to learn how to experience rest. If we only needed physical rest we could just take a nap or sit down awhile. We could go on a vacation or retreat for emotional rest. But the real rest we need, and of which Jesus was referring, is spiritual rest. The Pharisees of Christ's time had burdened the people with so many traditions and so much legalism they were actually wearing from trying to be a good Jew. Christ was bothered by what He saw and offered the people a rest that comes only from Him. He made a promise that if they would step into the yoke with Him they would not only find rest, they would also find their burdens would become lighter. Jesus promised He would also teach them.
James Botts wrote, "Human effort falls far short of the standard God requires. The cross is the place of exchange where what I am is placed on Him and what He is, is given to me."[i]
In 1930 an unusual event took place. It still represents an open case in the FBI missing-person files. On August 15, after dining out with his family, a New York State Supreme Court Justice named Joseph Carter hailed a taxi and was never seen or heard from again. The FBI thought the disappearance might be work-related as the judge had heard many mob cases. But there was no real evidence to support that theory. All investigations led to dead-ends. The only clue was a note he left for his wife and family. It said, ˜I am very, very tired. Love, Joe." That was the last anyone ever heard from him.
I think many of us feel that way. Jesus has something to say to the person who is exhausted, to the person who is worn out, chewed up and spit out by life. He offers rest to those who are frustrated, hurting, and tired.[ii]
We all find ourselves burdened from time to time. Our burden may be financial stress, a sick or dying loved one, family obligations, job demands, the list goes on. Jesus has made us this promise of rest and comfort. He has promised to carry the most of our burdens. He has promised to teach us.
However, His yoke is not forced upon us. We have an invitation from Him, and we must willingly take His yoke upon us. We do not have the privilege of not wearing a yoke at all, though. If we do not take the yoke of Christ upon us, then our shoulders must bear the weight of sin and weariness.
Why try to bear your burdens alone when there is such a precious help? If you are a believer Christ will help you with your spiritual burdens. If you have not accepted Christ as your personal Savior, then you are under the burden of sin and spiritual despair. Christ wants you to come unto Him. That is His invitation to you: "Come unto me."
Copyright © 2005 Thomas E. Kittrell
[i] Sermon "Rest for the Stressed" by James Botts published in Sermon Central on the internet.
[ii] Sermon - "An Attractive Invitation "- by Carlton Coon published in Sermon Central on the internet.