Have you ever felt like you have a yoke around your neck forcing you to go in a direction you do not want to go? Whenever a child of God recognizes that the spirit of the age we live in is trying to dictate to us and lead us in the wrong direction, we should react with holy contempt. This age is ruled by Satan, who hates Jesus. ‘Realization of self’ is what he teaches. But no one who has become a child of God should ever be under the controlling influence of the prince of this world to do his will. Jesus never submitted to anyone’s will except the will of His Father. And Jesus allowed His Father to lead Him to do anything that His Father wanted to do with His life.
Jesus said, “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. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).
“Take My yoke upon you…” means that the control of our life should be surrendered to the will of God.
“…learn from Me…” means we admit that, in every part of our life, Jesus is Lord. He will discipline and teach us all His ways.
“…I am gentle and lowly in heart…” contrasts with the distinctly unpleasant harshness and pride of the Jewish religious teachers. Jesus, the true Teacher, is meek and lowly. Those who take His yoke upon them learn to be humble like Him.
“…you will find rest for your souls” refers to rest for our heart, not our conscience. This is the same kind of rest we undergo when we no longer try to be a great person in this world. We find it when we take the bottom rung of humility before both God and men.
Compare “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” to the Jewish religious teachers who would “bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matthew 23:4). Hard work and problems will still be there as we walk with Christ, along with heartaches and trials, but we are no longer forced to carry them by ourselves. The yoke Jesus offers will not annoy us, because it is light and not difficult. We can share this yoke with the One who always gives us grace for every need we may have. We can’t go to Christ by faith alone—we also need His grace. When we take on Christ’s yoke, we are released from sin’s yoke. It is not slavery to serve God, but perfect liberty! We won’t be left by ourselves to do whatever we will. God makes it possible for us to have enough grace and desire of heart to do what He wills. This is His grace for any soul in need who goes to Him without anything to offer but its sins.
We should always measure our own life by Jesus’ standard, and bow our neck to His yoke and none other. And we should never try to force a yoke on anyone in addition to the one He lays upon them. A yoke is basically a harness to hold two animals or people working together, and Jesus desires to be with us as one of the pair. He is willing to share the work of any difficult and annoying task, because God never intended for us to carry our burden alone. What a deadly mistake we make when we try to carry the load of life in a collar meant for only one! If we want to win and have peace in our Christian walk, we will take off the collar of ourself and put on the dual yoke of Christ. He is the only One we should be yoked to!
No murmuring or self-pity came forth from Christ concerning anything His Father sent His way. We need to learn lowliness and meekness of heart like this. But it won’t happen until His redemption has worked in us first, to renew us and set us free. Then we will be able to put on the yoke beside Him. Once we take His yoke upon us, we’ll never again ask why something difficult is happening to us. But when we deliberately refuse to take His yoke, Jesus becomes distressed over our murmuring and complaining.
We may run into situations that tempt us, along with other difficulties and torments that may come our way, but Jesus desires for us to count them all as joy. He will help us by His powerful grace, and comfort us in such a generous way that we’ll be energized to go on without stopping, while lifting up praise to Him forever. All the ways and paths of Christ are pleasing and peaceful!
“Take My yoke upon you…and ye shall find rest to your souls” also refers to submitting to Jesus, by which our soul can find rest. Anytime a sinner comes to Jesus in deep distress, Jesus gives him rest “without money and without price.” But those who don’t go on in the ways of Christ will lose whatever solace they once had and become full of misery. Why is this? They never took His yoke upon them. The condition He sets forth for sinners who want to obtain rest is to “Come unto Me.” And to believers He says: “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.”
Why be fearful of Christ’s yoke upon us, since we know that all He commands is holy, proper and for our benefit? He will require us to deny ourself and to be exposed to difficult situations. But He will also pay us back plentifully, even in this world, by the joy and peace within us that only He can give. And what is His yoke lined with?—love! We receive powerful assistance and He encourages and comforts us so strongly that, in our gratitude to Him, we’ll never find a painful yoke, but only a pleasing one! The only yoke that should rest on our shoulders is the yoke of Jesus.