The Yoke and the Learning

Philippe-Jacques_de_Loutherbourg_-_Landscape_with_Horse_and_Oxen_Cart_-_Google_Art_Project
The Yoke and the Learning

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Could it be that mankind’s burdens of the soul are analogous to the burdens of the beasts of the field, for why would Jesus mention the yoke, when he beckoned us to come to him for rest?

One might wonder about the purpose of the yoke.  At first thought, it may seem an added burden to an animal, but it is just the opposite, for its function is to make the burden light.  The plow, attached to the oxen without a yoke would be onerous, but when worked by means of a yoke, becomes easier to pull.

What is the nature of this “rest” that Jesus talks about?  The writer of Hebrews exhorts the reader to “labor to enter into Christ’s rest”, a seeming paradox; however, rest is not stagnation as in a still lake, but rather entails simultaneous energy and tranquility, as the rushing waters of a river, or the plunging torrents of a waterfall. It connotes physical and mental activity:  toil with the plow and the discipline of learning, but where burdens are light and non-oppressive.

And what is the “burden”?  It is life itself with its difficulties, to be carried from cradle to grave. During his days on earth, Jesus recognized that men and women took life painfully, and this enigma of how to withstand life’s unpleasant onslaughts  is universal.

“Take my yoke and learn from Me,” says Christ. To take Christ’s yoke upon us is likened to an ox, in meekness, subjecting itself to its Master, no longer going its own way;  it goes where the yoke is led.  An act of total commitment.  To learn from Christ is to look at life according to His perspective, teaching and principles.  It is to grasp and comprehend His meekness and lowliness of heart, qualities which banish the scourge of a restless spirit.

Christ’s yoke is easy. The gentle Master is also a skilled Carpenter, who fashions the yoke for a perfect fit, to enable us to carry our burdens with strength. Christ’s yoke is his way of alleviating human life, his prescription for a joyful life in the midst of a difficult world.

There are other yokes and teachers that we can subject ourselves to, but Christ claims that it is his yoke and the learning from him that give rest to our souls, where we can plow through the fields of life more efficiently, and with lighter burdens.

Reference:  Henry Drummond, Pax Vobiscum, 1890, electronic book courtesy of http://www.Gutenberg.org.

Image: “Landscape with Horse and Oxen Cart”, Painting in the public domain by Philip James de Loutherbourg (1740-181), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

19 thoughts on “The Yoke and the Learning

  1. Thank-you Dee. Knee deep in loam and wondering if the yoke is actually working can only last for so long…sometimes we forget the joy of actually pulling hard, pushing ourselves and taking that step in faith because it’s hard and it’s lonely – but it’s the looking back that gives the satisfaction, and the small little voice that says, there truly is a God because no way could I plow that straight or that deep alone.

    • How beautifully you say it, Sandra, it almost brings me to tears. Yes, like you, I have been there in the field, while knee deep in loam, and looking back at the furrows straight and deep, with wonder and praise. Thank you so much for the poetry of your thoughts.

  2. Dee, this is (as expected) absolutely beautiful. I am reminded that most of our burdens are those God never intended we carry – the burdens of envy, jealousy and judgement come to mind. God never intended us to know those burdens, but rather to trust in His divine understanding and grace. Once we accept His invitation to ‘let go’, we can stand straighter, denied the weight of being human. I love this and hope your day is as beautiful as you are in the graces you show us the light. ~ Love ever, Bobbie

    • Yes, dear Bobbie, how true what you say, that being human in and of itself manufactures all types of burdens that God never intended for us to carry. And it is this very state that God reaches out to rescue us, to save us from ourselves. I love how you say it — “to let go and stand straighter, denied the weight of being human.” Thank you, Bobbie, for such beautiful words of truth. Love as always, Dee

  3. We sure could use a lightening of our burdens and I do understand how you have interpreted this and appreciate how you’ve given us this little gift today! God Bless, Kathi

  4. His yoke contrasts with the Pharisees yoke, who bind burdens too heavy to lift on people. I wonder if part of the reason His yoke is more gentle is that He is pulling it along with us. The Pharisees would not lift a finger to help out, if I recall. Thank you for posting this. It is encouraging to read.

  5. Pingback: PowerPoint – Yielding Our Hearts to God | One Creative Cookie

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