“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
There is a wonderful legend concerning the quiet years of Jesus, the years prior to his three-year public ministry. The legend claims that Jesus the carpenter was one of the master yoke-makers in the Nazareth area. People came from miles around for a yoke, hand carved and crafted by Jesus, son of Joseph.
When customers arrived with their team of oxen Jesus would spend considerable time measuring the team – their height, the width of the space between them, and the size of their shoulders. Within a week, the team would be brought back and he would carefully place the newly made yoke over the shoulders, watching for rough places, smoothing out the edges and fitting them perfectly to this particular team of oxen.
This is the yoke Jesus invites us to take. Don’t be misled by the word “easy,” for its root word in Greek speaks directly of the tailor-made yokes: they were “well-fitting.” The yoke Jesus invites us to take, the yoke that brings rest to weary souls, is one that is made exactly to our lives and hearts. The yoke he invites us to wear fits us well, does not rub us nor cause us to develop sore spirits and is designed for two. His yokes were always designed for two and our yoke-partner is none other than Jesus Christ himself.
We carry the burden of our struggles here on earth. We’re hurt by the words and actions of those around us and we often believe that we simply can’t bear the pain we feel when we are betrayed by friends or loved ones. Infidelity and dishonesty haunt us unless we give them over to God who strengthens us and carries us through the pain of betrayal and hurt.
We carry the burden of our physical ailments. This body we inhabit is sometimes unforgiving and causes us pain. It breaks and it gets sick and we have to keep going. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own little pity-party and forget what Jesus endured to set us free. If we will only lay our physical burdens at His feet, He will help us through the healing process and carry us over the toughest pain.
We carry the burden of our sin. Jesus sets us free from the burden of sin, but only after we have seen how much our sin burdens him. I think this spurs our repentance and causes us to turn away from sin and back to God.
We may even be carrying the burden of weariness in our search for God. Whether you are a new Christian or you proclaimed Jesus as your Savior many years ago, you are on a journey. It is a journey either in search of God or in search of deeper relationship with God or in search of an understanding of God’s plan for your life. This can be a tough trip to take, one with many potholes and detours. It is easy to grow weary along the road and give in to the urge to just sit down and give up. These are the times when we must realize that Jesus is right beside us carrying the burden with us and helping us along the path. This is why His yoke is for two.
Jesus frees people from all these burdens. The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose.