Sunday, January 22, 2012

Take My Yoke

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.
- Jesus (Matthew 11. New Living Translation)





A yoke is a wooden harness holding two oxen together so that they can complete the heavy manual labor they are assigned. It combines two independent beings to a cohesive unit to complete hard work.

The immediate context of these words - the way Jesus was using these phrases as understood by those in his audience - primarily suggests a yoke of a religious nature. A rabbi would have a multitude of certain, specific teachings and practices, and these together would constitute his "yoke." If a young boy (always a boy. Always a male) wanted to learn from the rabbi, he would be instructed to learn deeply all of the rabbis rules and instructions. And follow them. The young man would pull with the older and all the fellow disciples these burdensome tasks.

Boy and Ox Cart

We also understand yoke in a broader context. My load to carry. Expectations foisted upon us by social norms, by family, by employees. But mostly by ourselves.

This is how I'm supposed to be. This is what I'm supposed to do.

I'm supposed to save the world.
I'm supposed to be successful.
I'm supposed to hold on to this dream.
I'm supposed to be smarter than I am - or at least he is. I'm supposed to be strong.
I'm NOT supposed to cry.

As a result, we are weary. Overburdened. Crushed.

My burden is light.

Not because Jesus' teachings are easy. I can't think that healing the sick, comforting the afflicted, visiting the imprisoned, feeding the hungry, nor clothing the naked is easy. It's pretty demanding.

But do we need all the other stuff? All the rules, the regulations, the false expectations?

I am humble and gentle at heart.

God is a god of mercy. I've often heard this throughout my life. Often from people who were condemning others for not living up to their standards. So I don't want to press this. I don't want to burden you with the idea that if you just.
to Jesus,
everything would be all right.

Because that's not the truth.

The truth is, from my experience, Jesus doesn't care about our expectations for ourselves. He doesn't sweat our failures. He doesn't let us down when we let ourselves down.

Take my yoke...


  1. Karen Harison10:07 AM

    I hope this isn't stalking....You replied to my post on Rachel Evans blog about believing that the only reason Jesus died was to save us. I replied back but I guess you never checked back or didn't want to talk with me anymore. I hope that's not the case because I am very interested in hearing why you believe it was necessary for Christ to be crucified.

    Anyway, I clicked on your name on Rachel's blog and it brought me here. I didn't see a way to contact you on your blog so I'm doing it this way. I hope this is okay. I'm not trying to convince you of anything or condemn you; I'm simply interested in a point of view that I have never heard before.

    Hope to here from you.

    1. Karen, I'm not sure that you'll receive this as a reply or not. I actually did try to respond to this comment a couple weeks back, but it didn't show. I vaguely recall a conversation with you on RHE's blog, but I do not recall where or under what topic.


Be kind. Rewind.