Taking Up the Yoke by Lenny Cacchio

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. -- Matthew 11:29 NIV

 

I’m a boy from the city, so for many years I misunderstood these words of Jesus.  I once thought that Jesus was painting a picture of me with my neck in the yoke with Jesus walking behind me, reins and maybe whip in hand, “encouraging” me onward. 

 

That’s quite a picture of Jesus and how he supposedly operates.  I never focused on the implicit bad theology of me doing the heavy work and Jesus compelling me forward like a slave master in my life of toil and travail.

 

One afternoon I was strolling around the square in the city of Liberty, Missouri.  Many of the towns in this part of the world still have old city squares, with the courthouse in the middle, surrounded by old brick and mortar shops, usually with an antique shop or two.  In the display window of one of these establishments was an old wooden oxen’s yoke, the kind that farmers used before the days of diesel tractors. 

 

It was then that I understood what Jesus was saying.  This yoke had a place for two oxen, not one, and now I know that the verse and its context mean the opposite of what I had believed:

 

"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)

 

Two places for oxen mean that I am not working alone.  Jesus makes my burden easy, not because he is behind me, shoving and compelling, but because he is right there in that yoke with me, encouraging me, and in fact doing most of the work. 

 

If the burden is heavy, he will make it light.  He may be our boss, but he is the kind of leader who leads from the front and is humble enough to work beside us when the soil needs work.  That’s a picture that’s easy to live with.

 

Lenny C.

www.kccog.org

 

Excerpted from The Sabbath Morning Companion, August 24, 2007, by Lenny Cacchio. 
All rights reserved.


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