07/02/2024 by Rev. Doug Walker 0 Comments
As seen in the HEARTbeat and the Village Voice
For those of you who have followed my writings know of my sense of humor. Your first thought after reading the title above might have been straight to a play on words, thinking I would tell a yoke, or drop an egg, or more plainly put, tell a bad joke. Well, as predictable as it might be, that is not the case.
Have you ever seen a team of oxen plowing the field? They seem to know each other’s thoughts as they work in perfect concert to plow a field. The team works effortlessly pulling the plow while obeying the farmer’s simple words, or the light touch of a rod. As the touch is applied to one ox, the other senses the change of direction initiated by the teammate, and they turn in unison.
I wonder, wouldn’t it be more efficient to have multiple oxen working singularly plowing the same field? Wouldn’t that get more accomplished? The answer is no. An ox working alone will tire quicker and must be rested more often. Over-working an animal will have more detrimental effects than positive ones. Hence a team of oxen can plow more and longer than ones individually.
Up ‘til now, I’ve used the words “team” and “individual.” Let me, however, clarify something. Do you know what a team of oxen is called? Would it surprise you to learn it is called a “yoke?” When you pair two or more oxen together, this group of laborers is called a yoke. This might make Jesus’ words a little more understandable.
Matthew records Jesus’ words: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus had just heard his cousin John had been put in prison. He received this word from some of John’s disciples sent to Jesus to ask if He was the One. Jesus responded, and then began to praise the work John had done, setting the foundation for His own ministry. He acknowledged the tough road John had to travel; a lone voice in the wilderness calling for a world to repent.
We are never called to walk our road alone, as John was called to do. Even though, like John, we have the Holy Spirit in us, we are never called to walk alone. Jesus knew the world would fight against His message. He never sent the disciples out alone, but in twos. He sent out a “yoke” of workers.
Jesus is always working with us in our daily struggles to further His Father’s kingdom here on earth. When we begin to grow tired and weary, remember who we are yoked with. Never do we have our own harness. We are yoked with Christ! Like a yoke of oxen, Jesus knows our thoughts as we work in concert. Alone we can be defeated, but working with Jesus, being yoked with Him, we can run and not get tired.
Jesus’ yoke is light, as He has already paid the heavy price so we can be yoked with Him!