"Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
What if you had just “one more thing to do?” You may be overwhelmed by your busy schedule now, but what if you had to add something else to your “to do list?” You’ve heard of the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” That poor camel of children’s stories was under the weight of a massive load that had been piled on by its master. And when just one more blade of grass was added to the load, the camel crumpled to the ground, crushed under the load of its burden. Whether at work, or at home, or even in ministry most of us have probably felt this way from time to time. “I just can’t handle one more thing!”
Can you see the irony in our verse for today? Jesus is asking busy burdened people to add another thing to their weighed down shoulders – “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me!” Why would Jesus do this? Does He know what He’s asking? Yes! Of course He does! That’s why He’s asking us to do this! Let’s think it through…
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…”
The yoke in Bible times was a wooden beam shaped to fit the shoulders of a pair of oxen designed for pulling, either a wagon or a plow. The rabbis of Jesus’ day, called a “yoke,”—“school,”1 and school is a place to work. A student understands the feeling of the weight of schoolwork on his shoulders.
The purpose and design of the yoke is to make the work load lighter, and easier to handle. There are cultures in our world today where people still use yokes to make their burdens lighter and less of a hassle to manage. So when Jesus tells us to put on His yoke, He is actually telling us to do something that is for our benefit. It isn’t to increase our load, but it is designed to lighten our burden. Jesus must have also thought of His yoke as “school” because He tells us to put on His yoke and “learn of me.” What does Jesus teach us in His school? He calls us to go to the school of the “greatest Servant,” to learn how to be a servant from Him.
“For I am meek and lowly in heart…”
Jesus wants His followers to submit themselves to Him and His “school.” Jesus is the perfect teacher in that He is “meek,” that is “mild, kind, fair,” in character. The Christian concept of “meekness” is based on “humility,” and “humility is not something people are naturally born with but something that God grows in us after we are born again. Meekness was not considered a virtue until Jesus came to earth and taught it. Up until His day meekness was considered a “weakness,” something to be avoided if at all possible. If you learn anything in Jesus’ “school” it will begin with how to be “meek and lowly in heart” as the Teacher is. Submission to Him brings us to the place where we can learn from Him. Be guided by His yoke.
“And ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Remember that the purpose of Jesus’ yoke is to ease the burden and make it lighter. If you have served in ministry for an extended length of time you may not think that Jesus’ yoke is light. Sometimes it feels incredibly heavy and burdensome. But consider this my friend, Jesus’ yoke is always lighter than the yoke of sin that you carried before your salvation, and no one helped us carry that burden. We must remember Jesus’ promise, “and ye shall find rest unto your souls!” As you carry Jesus’ yoke, He carries you and your burden!
Struggling believer, won’t you come to this “meek” and “lowly” Master, and add just one more thing to your daily load? Put on His yoke and learn from Him. It will change your life!
1. A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the Greek New Testament, electronic version in eSword.