“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me—for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls—for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
It’s His version of a straitjacket—and it’s refreshing, not restrictive. . .liberating, not confining.
Today’s Manna is a difficult one indeed to comprehend, especially for those who’ve never been on a farm or seen a team of horses/oxen plowing in a field. And, even if we have, Jesus’ words are still hard to understand UNTIL we read them with spiritual eyes and a regenerated mind.
The Greek word “zugos” is used here for “yoke” and basically means “to join together, couple as one, etc.” and is the word commonly used for binding two beasts-of-burden together to accomplish a common task such as plowing or pulling a load. Interestingly, the word is also used for the arm that connects two balancing scales for weighing items.
Thus, Jesus’ use here is a rich one that requires quiet, reflective contemplation—a spiritual, “chewing of the cud,” if you will. And, even then, we can only grasp a faint picture of what He really meant in these words to His disciples (and us).
Scholars tell us that the yoke Jesus referred to was an “uneven” one, where one portion of the crossbeam across the center tongue was longer and heavier than the other. Underneath the longer, heavier portion went the older, more experienced, heavier oxen. It was the “teacher,” if you will, while the younger, less experienced, lighter oxen was the “student.”
Why did they yoke them this way?
Because they knew the “teacher” would be pulling more than his share of the load in training the young upstart how to plow a straight row. And, if the “student” wanted to sing “I did it my way”. . .while constantly biting against the bit and straining under the yoke. . .his mouth would soon be sore and his back chaffed.
Only by following the lead of the “teacher” did the “student” discover the yoke was “easy” (Grk. “chrestos”—“better, good, gracious, kind, etc.”) and the “burden light” (Grk. “elaphros”—“easy, less cumbersome, etc.”).
And, so it is in our “union” with Christ.
Only those who “abide in Christ”—i.e., realize He’s the “Vine and we’re the branches” (Jn. 15:1-8) and our sustenance/life comes from Him—know what it means to “walk in the Spirit” and experience the “fruits of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:1; Gal. 5:22-23).
Likewise, it’s in this “communion-union” that we discover what it means to be “meek (Grk. ‘praus’—‘humble, gentle, mild, etc.’) and lowly (Grk. ‘tapeinos’—‘to be cast down, abased, of lowly degree, etc.’) in heart.” And, only then can we “find rest (Grk. ‘anapausis’—‘renewal, re-creation, to be refreshed, etc.’) unto our souls.” Only then. May the Holy Spirit help us today to “be still and know that He is God” and our responsibility is to let Him lead.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated July 22, 2009