Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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 11:28-30)
My pastor calls this passage the "Great Invitation". I had never heard of that concept before but find it very interesting and applicable. This passage has been described as the "how" to the Great Commandment (Mt 22:37-39) and the Great Commission (Mt 28:18-20). This makes total sense to me. The premise being that in order to be able to fulfill those other two "Great's" (loving others, God & making disciples) we need to first learn from the Master, Jesus, by walking alongside Him in His yoke. Great stuff.
Did you know that yokes were custom made to fit the specific two oxen who were going to plow together? From what I've heard, training a new ox to plow a field meant that it would be yoked with a more experienced one until it learned what to do. The experienced ox would be the leader, bearing the bulk of the "responsibility" (as much as an animal can be responsible) and gently correcting the "newbie" as it learned what to do. Can you imagine then what it would be liked to be "yoked" to Jesus as His apprentice, learning the "ropes" of a life lived as He would have lived it? What a powerful picture of discipleship.
Now consider the added benefits to walking close to Jesus in His will for our lives. If we have learned from Him how to walk this Christian walk, and are consistent in our dedication to doing so, what would the implications be in our lives? I doubt that an easy yoke means that we are going to have a life of leisure. However, if we are doing what God wants us to do - the BEST rather than the GOOD - we will have an easier time of things because we won't be distracted by all of things that are outside of His will for our lives. We won't waste effort striving to make things happen that are our plans and not God's. That's how we will get rest - by reducing the striving. Rest for our souls. Do you need the rest?
For further thought:
1) How long have you walked in the "yoke" with Jesus?
2) What can you do today to start walking closer to Him?
3) Is there someone in your life who needs to be "yoked" to Jesus? How can you lead them to Him?
NOTE: This post is also over at Laced With Grace today. However, because I thought its content deserved double exposure, I'm posting it here as well. :) Be sure though, to check out other devotions at LWG.