Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load down people with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Matt 11:28-30)
Ever feel weary and burdened? Is this an occasional occurrence or has it become a lifestyle for you?
In either case, Jesus is speaking to all of us. He invites us to learn how to ease and lift the heaviness we carry. The first step is to stop heaving everything onto our own shoulders, and discipline ourselves to put His yoke there instead.
Yokes have one purpose: to connect two animals or people to pull a load together. The stronger of the two will shoulder more of the weight, easing the strain for the weaker part of the team. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that pulling a load together is much easier than carrying it alone.
Yet we keep on trying to do the solo act. Whether it’s dropped on our shoulders or we pick it up of our own accord, our first impulse seems to be to take hold of it and stagger off under our own steam. I count it as progress that I’m learning to stop more often in mid-stagger and team up with Jesus.
As I’m walking yoked with Jesus, not only is the load much lighter, but I’m learning some valuable life skills. He’s teaching me, bit by bit, how to be gentle and humble in heart. The significant thing is not whether I think the burden I’m sharing with Him is fair or one I shouldn’t have to shoulder. The lesson is there will be no rest for my soul if I react to it aggressively. There will be no lasting peace available if I make myself a martyr, or opt to feel superior for carrying my ponderous cargo. If I have those things on my mind, I’ll be so out of step with Jesus that all I’ll get is tangled up in the harness meant to help me.
The next lesson is that I can’t be attached to the world as long as I’m yoked with Jesus. Trying to do that gets me pulled in opposite directions and gets me nowhere. The various yokes with world offers me instead become increasingly difficult and burdensome the longer I try to carry them. Taking on one or more of these yokes results in finding out that I literally have “the weight of the world on my shoulders.”
What I’m learning is that God’s commands aren’t burdensome for three reasons. First, they are there for my well-being. Second, Jesus works with me and gives me the power to fulfill them. Third, in fellowship with Him, I find the love that nourishes me, the knowledge that enlightens me, and the hope that sustains me.
Yoked with Jesus, my burden becomes precisely what He created and equipped me to carry. (It’s when I forget to team up that I stagger under my lop-sided load until I fall over sideways.) His yoke is custom-made to fit my shoulders exactly, because I am custom made to walk with Him.