“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.
What is Jesus’ yoke? Is it the yoke He bore? Or is it the yoke He lays on His brothers and sisters? Those who join Him in doing the will of the Father? (Matthew 12:50) As Forrest Gump would say, I think maybe it’s both.
Bearing a yoke is normally considered highly undesirable. It bespeaks forced response to the will of another. Going where one doesn’t want to go. Dragging a load in which one has no interest. But that’s another yoke altogether. Jesus spoke of a yoke that gives rest to the soul. There is a resting place to be had in which we cease from our labors (Hebrews 4:9,10)
Jesus bore the yoke of obedience all the way to the cross. Was it easy? Was that burden light? Seriously, was that rough-hewn cross light? Was it bearing Jesus’ yoke that prompted Paul to write, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17,18)
It’s all about perspective. Many years ago I discovered a book titled Identification by E. W. Kenyon and found it quite revolutionary. I asked a fellow Christian if he’d heard of E. W. Kenyon’s writings. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s existentialism.”
Well, yeah, it kind of is. We are subjective beings. So subjective and subjugated, in fact, that the only solution to the problem of us is that we die and are reborn as something new and different: A special people. A people called from darkness into marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
Hear the call.
We are a people who wear an entirely different yoke than the one we wore before. Our newfound existence is in Him. In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). We were crucified with Him and it’s no longer we who live, but He lives in us and through us (Galatians 2:20). As many of us as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:26).
That’s the Christian reality: Living in a new (to humans) plane of existence. We’re raised together. Together, we’re seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) Furthermore, despite its absolute truth, this new reality fails to exist apart from our embracing it and permitting it to flow through us into the earth. So, yes, if that’s not existentialism I don’t know what is.
It’s really hard not to work at being good. In fact it’s unbearable. If we don’t give a pound of flesh, how can we exact a pound from others? If we’ve done nothing to deserve the goodness in our lives, how can we levy rules on others? How can we raise the bar if we admit there is no profit in meeting it? We find ourselves in an untenable position that demands we extend an open hand. To everyone. Freely we have received. Freely we must give.
Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:5) So there it is. The only production God’s interested in is what comes from His vineyard. I don’t believe He could have said it any plainer.
Every human bears a yoke. Without exception. It’s a wonderful thing to get to choose which one.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil…I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days…” (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19,20)
Choose well, in Jesus’ name.
© Melissa Kay Simonds