Jesus noted in Matthew 11:
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It is commonly thought that Jesus is using the standard Jewish reference to Torah (the Law) as a “yoke.” While we might perceive a yoke in a negative way, ancients viewed yokes positively. It allowed two oxen to work together, for example. Thus, Torah enabled the Jewish people to work together. Normally, the phrase was used most commonly for those who forsook Judaism. They were said to have “cast off the yoke.”
When Jesus was saying his yoke was easy and his burden was light, he was contrasting his view of the Law with the burdensome interpretation of many scribes in his day. They read Torah (the yoke) in a way that made it heavy and a burden. The imagery was a yoke that was so heavy and large that it wasn’t helping the oxen to work together but rather burdened them so much that the oxen could scarcely work at all.
Jesus was suggesting that his Way was not burdensome. It shouldn’t make life more difficult. It should enable God’s people to work together better. As we teach others to be followers of Christ, let’s make sure that we keep Jesus’ yoke easy and light.
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