Theme: An Easy Burden
From this week’s lessons we see that Christ’s call to discipleship is described as a yoke that is both easy and light because Jesus is a kind and gentle Master.
Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30
When we think of being harnessed together with others in Christ’s school it is possible to be discouraged, especially if we reflect that the work is hard and the course of instruction is unending. It is like entering upon a work study program in which there are no holidays and no summer vacations. Perhaps the Lord sensed this as He spoke, for He appended three powerful inducements to His call.
First, He portrayed Himself as a kind and humble master. Most of us have been in schools where teachers were not kind and were far from humble. Perhaps they were lazy and compensated for their laziness by overloading their students. Some teaching fellows have made undergraduate students research their thesis for them. Perhaps they were bitter. They had hoped for a better spot on the faculty; then they had been passed over for promotion and so took it out on the students. Perhaps they were filled with thoughts of their own importance and thus could hardly stoop to explain themselves to one who was not quite so far along the academic road. A semester with a teacher like that can seem forever. A winter term can be a purgatory.
Jesus is not that kind of teacher. Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart” (v. 29). He is easy to approach, glad to be helpful. The very next chapter of Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:3 to say, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (Matt. 12:20).
Second, Jesus speaks of His yoke being “easy” and His burden “light” (v. 30). That is an interesting thing for Him to say, because to my knowledge it is the only place in Scripture (and perhaps in secular literature as well, except for that influenced by Christ’s own words) where a yoke is portrayed as easy, light, or desirable. In all other biblical instances a yoke is onerous. Jesus’ yoke is not onerous, and the reason his yoke is different is that He is different. The yokes of human masters are hard, because human beings are hard. They are sinners who treat subjects in a sinful manner. The yoke of Jesus is an easy yoke, because He is “gentle and humble in heart.”
Third, Jesus speaks of rest for tired disciples. In fact, He speaks of two rests. There is a rest that is given: verse 28 (“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”). And there is a rest that is found: verse 29 (“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”).
Jesus is all you or any other poor, struggling, burdened soul will ever truly need. So why struggle further on in sin? You are laboring onward like Pilgrim, distressed at the burden on your back. No earthly master will ever lift that burden. Many will add to it. Most will ignore your plight; they have burdens enough of their own. Turn from lesser masters to the great and good Master. Turn from lesser teachers to Him who can teach true godliness and whose teaching will save your soul.
How is a yoke generally portrayed?
How is Jesus’ yoke described, and why?
What are the two rests Jesus mentions? How would you describe each one?
Application: Praise the Lord for the rest he has given you in the Lord Jesus Christ. How will you make that offered rest known to someone this week?