Wednesday, December 10, 2014


A yoke is defined as "a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull." The word occurs only 6 times in the New Testament and usually refers to slavery in various forms.

In Matthew, just as Jesus transforms the cross from a symbol of death to a symbol of life, so he transforms the yoke from a symbol of slavery to a symbol of freedom.

And he tells us the purpose.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.

It is not an invitation it is a command, two commands: take and learn. The command to learn is "mathete". The word for disciple-"mathetes". To be a disciple is to learn and the only way to learn is to be yoked.

But a yoke holds two. So who is the second one in the yoke? It is Jesus himself. It is the Father who is guiding. It is the Father to whom he is obedient unto death. The yoke is easy and the burden is light because we are yoked to Christ. He bears the hardship, he bears the weight.

He is the Son who always follows the will of the Father. He is constantly beside us, to help us guide us. As a parent takes the hand of a child and guides them when they are learning to write, so Jesus is there to guide us.

When he turns right we should turn right. When he turns left, we should turn left. If we remain constantly yoked to Christ, we cannot go wrong. The yoke only chafes when we fight it, when we pull loose or try to pull in the opposite direction. Then the full weight of life is on us alone and it can be crushing.

How often do the scriptures speak of the obedience of Jesus to the Father?

A yoke is not a bad thing. What would be impossible for one to do alone becomes possible when two are yoked together. The Father guides the plow, keeps the furrow straight. The good son is obedient, doing the will of the father.

As Christ walked with the disciples on the road to Emaus and walking beside him they learned, so if we remain yoked beside the Son, we will learn, and he will in turn make any weight bearable. Stop when he stops, go when he goes, turn when he turns; even when the soil ahead is rocky.

Jesus is not behind us driving us. He is beside us. He is the Servant, the example, the companion.