Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30).
So here’s what I think…
As you well know, a yoke is a contraption that allows an ox, or some other suitable creature, to pull a plow. Oxen are yoked together in teams of two, with one ox leading, and the other ox more or less along for the ride. This second animal is called the “off” ox. It is constrained by the yoke to follow the lead ox and do what he does.
Jesus is inviting you to be his off ox.
Follow his lead. Do what he does. Be conformed to his image. That’s the offer. And what is the result of this?
You will find rest for your soul.
Now Jesus could be talking about that rest as a reward for faithfully serving him, but I think it’s more than that. I think rest is a natural byproduct of following Jesus. Because following Jesus means walking in obedience to the Father, and obedience to the Father is the key to a peaceful heart. Think about it—how could Jesus say that his yoke was easy, his burden light? He was going to the cross to bear the sin of all mankind, and he knew it.
He could call it easy and light because it was the Father’s will, and doing the Father’s will put him in harmony with—at peace with—the Father. He was doing what he was sent to do. He was fulfilling his destiny.
When we obey God, when we allow him to direct our steps, we know peace, even when the path itself seems impossibly difficult. When we do what we were designed to do for the One who designed us, our souls will know rest.
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus…
What is he calling you to this day, Beloved? Where are you most likely to fight against the yoke? Could that—fighting against his lead—could that be the source of that stress you’re feeling? Could submission bring rest to your soul?
Who am I to say? What do I know? But, maybe…
Oxen are notoriously dull-witted creatures, but they manage to get it right.
I think there’s hope for us, Beloved.