Disclaimer: If any of you recognize or remember this, it's because I wrote it over a year ago. I read it tonight and saw some changes that needed to be made and thought I'd add a link to the video.
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) -“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.”
I tend to struggle a lot with anxiousness in my life. And I choose the word anxiousness instead of worry, because it’s not necessarily a conscious thing, so much as it is a subliminal or mindset based problem. I don’t necessarily waste my day worrying about how this thing or that is going to turn out. It’s something that has taken up residence, “set up shop”, if you will, in my mind. And it shows up in everything from what I think about, to how I think about it, and eventually flowing into my actions. And all of this ultimately goes back to a lack of trust in God and His faithfulness. But here is the question-is my problem the fact that I don't attempt to trust Him, or that I do not truly understand how to trust Him?
I think we look here at verse 28, and ones similar to it in Scripture and say to ourselves “just go to God and trust”…but He doesn’t stop there. He goes on to tell us to take on His yoke and learn from Him how to bear it. As humans, particularly in the 21st Century Americans, we look for rest in the absence of responsibility. But that’s not what Christ lays before us, He says “Come and take on My yoke.”
And I believe the reason for this to be two-fold.
First and foremost, is to take the focus off of ourselves. We are ultimately selfish creatures. We run from responsibility, why? To chase my desires. To do what makes me happy. To find satisfaction for myself. In our sinful state we look inside of ourselves to find that ultimate peace, satisfaction, and joy, only to find that there is none in us to be found. In Matthew 6:33 He tells us to seek first His kingdom, only then will “all these things” be added unto us. True peace, that passes understanding. Eternal joy, that which is without ceasing. The ultimate satisfaction that only comes from being truly loved with a perfect love. All things that only come in Christ. To quote John Piper, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." And we act like it is some giant burden to take on this yoke, to pick up our cross and follow. When really, it is just another example of His abundant grace to us. The ultimate feeling and experience of freedom comes from serving our Savior. This leads to the second reason.
He tells us that His burden is light. Some people take that as a promise of sunshine and candy canes…and the rest of us live in the real world. Life is hard. We are given things we don’t know how to handle, that we have no idea how to cope with, that we cannot resolve in our own hearts. And this I believe is where the “yoke” analogy comes in. The Greek term literally means to be enslaved. And the question is not “will we be enslaved”, but rather, “to what master”? And two options are laid before us.
The first option is to “go it alone”. In doing so we will be faced with trails we cannot handle. And we will be forced to try to maneuver through and escape these trails while carrying a load…a yoke, which is truly beyond what we can carry. There really are no benefits to this option, unless you consider depression, anxiety, anger, or bitterness to be benefits.
But then we have the second option. And this option is to cast down our yoke of sin. Cast it down at the foot of the cross, realizing the reality that Jesus already paid for it. He already carried that load for you, why do you feel the need to pack it around with you wherever you go? Throw it down. And pick up His yoke. Because, life will not be easy. We live in a fallen world full of sin, and therefore life will always be filled with things we find complicated and hard. And in and of ourselves, we can’t cope with it. We can tell ourselves that we have, and live a lie. But it will always be there, that underlying desire to be free, to get out from underneath the burden that we were not intended to bear. And instead of doing these ourselves, He calls us to give it to Him. The One who paid for your sin, the One who made you-the One who loves you. He calls for a total and complete surrender-but not a passive surrender. Rather, He calls for us to not only stop our sin, but to turn and live for Him. To commit a treason to self, a full out assault on the life we lived in the flesh.
So my point is that…what if, instead of the complacent live of surrender we hear so often preached, God’s call to surrender is in fact a call to action. Not that we in our own power can do anything, but a realization that as Paul tells us in Philippians, in Christ we can do all things. Rise up, O people of God, and throw off the yoke of sin. Pick up the yoke that he has freely given.