The yoke that
captures my heart is the one mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 11:25-30. He
says, "I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these
things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father,
for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me
by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father
except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who
are weary and heavy-laden, 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" (NASB).
The context of this passage focuses upon the degree to which Israel had profaned their
covenant relationship with God. The prevailing religious consciousness had become consumed
with building fences around acceptable and nonacceptable behavior. Allegiance to Jehovah
was defined by how well persons aligned themselves with the accepted codes of behavior.
Devotion and passion were not missing from religious practice. However, the devotion
and passion focused on performing ones way into relationship with God. As a result,
this performance-based devotion led to bondage, and with bondage came the oppressive
weariness of heart, mind, and soul.
are transformed from weariness to
we take up the
yoke of Christ.
Into this scene walked Jesus, with His ragtag band of followers, to proclaim the year
of the Lords disfavor with His people. The call of Christ was away
from this performance-oriented faith to a faith grounded in childlike sincerity and
humility. Gone was the yoke of bondage to perform ones way into favor with God.
Jesus brought a new yoke, an easy yoke whose burden was light. Both the
promise and the result of this yoke was REST.
Imagine a life transformed from the weariness of performance-based spirituality to
a restful relationship with God. This is the yoke of Christ. We no longer toil to know
the Father. Jesus has made Him known to us. We no longer strive to win the Fathers
favor. Jesus won it for us. We have an open access to the Holy One through His Son.
In his classic book on spiritual disciplines, The Spirit of the Disciplines,
Dallas Willard describes the yoke of Christ as the habitual pattern of communing with
God in the same way that Jesus communed with Him. We tend to think of this communion
in terms of a few isolated snapshots of Christ that focus upon deprivation. We see Jesus
driven into the desert for 40 days of fasting and spiritual warfare. Or, we see Him
secluding Himself away for an all night prayer session.
While these scenes graphically portray the passion with which Jesus pursued His relationship
with the Father, they are not the only means by which He did so. We also see Him communing
with His Father as He engaged in His normal affairs of life and ministry. When He served
the broken-hearted or broken in body, He engaged His Father; when He picked up a child
and marveled at the simplicity of her faith, He remembered His Father.
see that engagement, as well as deprivation, is a normal channel for communion with
God. When we only understand our communion with God in deprivation terms, we can lose
sight of the power and ease of the yoke of Christ.
There are plenty of challenging aspects of living out our faith in God. However, we
tend to sensationalize the difficulties, almost to the point of sacralizing
them. When we do so, we place them on a higher plane of spirituality than the simple
childlike awe of walking with the Father. Therefore, when we begin to raise certain
acts of faith above others, we begin our way down the path of coddling Gods favor
by our virtuous deeds. This path ultimately leads us to the very kind of faith that
Jesus condemns in Matthew 11.
Jesus calls us to communion with the Father in every waking moment of our lives. We
walk in the humility and sincerity of our love affair with God, sometimes meeting Him
in the throes of despair over our failures or challenges of life. At other times, we
engage Him as a child at play, frolicking with Him as we experience the awe of His creation.
We even passionately commune with Him in intimate settings similar to that of a husband
and a wife. For example, I dont commune with my wife to win her favor. I do so
because of my intense desire to be with her. Why should my relationship with God be
There are two yokes to choose from as we seek to commune with our Heavenly Father.
I prefer the easy yoke of Christ to the performance-based alternative. Ask yourself
to which one you are connectedChrists or anothers. The answer to that
question will tell you if you are equally yoked.