Monday, 30 November 2009

which yoke?

I suppose of all the 'comforting words' of scripture Matthew 11:28 would have to come high on the list. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." but I trust we are learning to read beyond the confines of a single verse. This is a conditional promise and we cannot expect the fulfilment of the promise if we do not fulfil its conditions.

The picture of the yoke is frequently used in the NT as a metaphor for the Law. The way in which the Law had been applied by the Pharisees had made it literally 'unbearable'; Acts 15:10 The rulers of the day used the Law as as a 'one size fits all' and would not lift a finger to help those who were being crushed by it. To such 'weary and heavy laden' Christ offered a different yoke. Do note that he did not offer a 'yoke-less' option but a 'different yoke'; this was no 'off the peg' 'one size fits all' but a 'tailor made' union which bound the disciple to his master.

The full promise with its necessary conditions reads; "Come to Me, all you who labor 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."

Taken together the whole passage makes the issues very plain. We find our 'rest' by coming under Christ's personal 'yoke' for our lives. What a 'rest' it is to come out from under every other 'yoke' and to come under the 'yoke' of Jesus Christ! This lifts from our shoulders every other obligation other than to 'learn of me'. It binds the disciple and his master into an exclusive relationship, and in that union and no other we find rest for our souls. In this union alone we discover that his yoke is easy and his burden is light or as John later testified..."For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome." 1John 5:3.

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