“Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11: 28-30
Are you frustrated or weighed down by the numerous struggles of life? In this scripture, Jesus gave an invitation, and it was specifically to those stressed out by life’s circumstances. There was an assurance of rest if only they would come to Him. But the process of finding that rest would involve taking upon oneself His yoke. That, to some, is a contradiction in terms as the yoke is often used figuratively in the Bible to symbolize domination and control. So what does Jesus mean by “Take my yoke upon you?”
Basically, a yoke is a long wooden beam with two recessed areas on the underside to fit over the necks of a pair of draft animals, usually oxen, to harness them together to pull a plow, a cart or some other load more easily (1 Samuel 6:7). Apart from this, there were also yokes for humans. These were simple beams or poles carried across the shoulders with a load attached to each end or the middle. With them, labourers were able to carry heavy loads more easily (Jeremiah 27:2; 28:10, 13). I am sure, today, you want to be able to carry your burdens or handle your responsibilities more easily.
In the days of Roman empire, before Christ, a bridegroom would carry his bride across the threshold, present her with the keys to the house, and then they would both “put their heads in a common yoke”, signifying their mutual intent to work for the common good of the family. In much the same way, Christ was inviting those who were stressed out from their struggles and labours to be yoked with Him in order to make life easy. He was, by so doing, offering to share in or help bear their burdens, no matter how heavy. And it is that same invitation He is extending to you today – He wants to give you rest from all your struggles and labours.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rest as “a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities”; “freedom from activity or labour” and “peace of mind or spirit.”
From the above definitions and our opening scripture, we can deduce that ‘rest’ is a period of refreshing or a state of satisfaction and stillness. And that is precisely what Jesus offers those who take His yoke upon themselves. The question is, how can one achieve from a state of rest?
A state of rest would indicate a situation of no anxiety or worry. You will accomplish much more when you are in that state, assured that the Lord your Maker has your best interest at heart and He is working all things out according to His plan for your life. Remember, He has walked this path before as man, and as the Bible states, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He knows where you are right now and is much more than able to help you. And He will, if you allow Him.
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me” (Matthew 11:29). A learner is a disciple. Therefore, to take up Jesus’ yoke would simply mean yielding to His leadership and submitting to His will (Philippians 4:3). It would require taking actions in harmony with His teachings (1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Peter 2:21). It would require willing submission to His authority and to those to whom He has delegated authority (Ephesians 5:21; Hebrews 13:17). As He said, “…for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Surrendering totally to Him would mean doing only what He wants you to do. That way, you will fret less and accomplish more in life.
The question is, are you willing to accept Him? Why would you rather continue in your struggles instead of allowing Him, who is more than able to bear your burdens, do it for you? Remember, He is always willing and, right now, His hand is stretched out to you. Will you receive Him? If your answer is “yes” then pray this prayer:
Dear Jesus, I believe You died and rose from the dead for my sake. Forgive my sins; be my Lord and personal Saviour. Give me the grace to walk with You from this day forward. In Your Mighty Name I pray.