Vol.8-27 – 07-02-2023 – The Yoke of Freedom
Come to Me, all 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 soul. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light. –Matthew 11:28-30
Our country is founded upon the interest of those who settled our land, escaping from the intolerance of England toward their personal relationship with the holy God. They were not amenable to a state church interrupting their biblical faith.
The country from which they escaped was a yoke, a burden, to their worship.
The word yoke is not common in our language today. It is in some circles, but few. A yoke is a heavy wooden beam, carved to fit over the backs of oxen or draft horses. It makes it so that in pairing the animals they must work together to do the heavy work. The yokes actually distribute the weight on each side. Thus, the animals can function both in pulling and walking.
Historical novels that portray the early settlement times of our country often include scenes of oxen carrying loads of the settlers or transporting family belongings to a new portion of land. It is an old way to manage the work; familiar to many in the past days.
Jesus often used illustrations to announce truths people needed to hear. Our introductory verse speaks of a yoke, then applies it to our learning. It is a familiar passage, and easy to quickly read and move on. We have heard it before.
Jesus uses the illustration to speak of what comes to those who follow Him. Odd. He tells them that there will be bountiful freedom under His yoke. No other freedom like His. His yoke is easy and light.
Jesus was not about the religious stuff; the religions of the world included long lists of rules. Regulations. Penance. Continuation requirements. Etc. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were pointedly consumed with demanding that people be more like them. They thought that people ought to follow God’s law, but could be made better if they would follow the Pharisaical laws. After all, what could be better than to follow more, the added ones making one’s religion a better way of living?
The Pharisees made religion intolerant. Created overwhelming burdens. It was in the sense of bringing down rules upon someone’s neck. To make them follow a particular track. A yoke. The yoke represented Pharisaical authority.
However, the yoke of Jesus is different. His authority, His yoke, is not a burden. His yoke is also indicated as being light. The word can also be translated as delight. The reason for this is that His yoke is bound by freedom. It is not, however, a freedom to do anything that is pleasing to our sight. It is the freedom to do as we ought to do.
Paul indicated that he often struggled to do what he ought to do: For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. –Romans 7:15 So, if Paul struggles in what God expects, how does one live in their freedom? Our ill desires become our yoke of choice.
The path of choices seem to promise us what we want but brings us under our self-inflicted yoke. We need someone who sets us free from the bondage (the yoke) of sin. That person is Jesus. He desires that we live in His freedom. We do that through obedience to Him. This is the freedom we have been designed to have through our Creator.
When the settlers of our nation escaped the strong hand of the state church in England, they sailed to the shores of what is now the United States of America.
In the ensuing years, their freedoms were compromised. Through wealth. Through wars. Through industrialization. Through education. Through government controls.
As we look back to Christ who shed His own blood that we might be freed from sin; that we might live in His freedom, and follow the plan and purpose He has for our lives, what shall we say about our nation’s freedom? Currently, we still live in a nation founded upon freedom in Christ.
As we celebrate our founding, might we understand our escape from the burdensome struggle of being under the yoke of the English ruler and the English Church. The church does not belong to a state ruler; the individual is extended the invitation to come to Christ where being under the yoke of humanity is null and void. Christ’s yoke is easy. His burden is light.
There are fewer who stand in the gap to defend our freedoms. Today, more do their best to escape their responsibility to their country. Giving up active service. Failing to take a stand. Thus, many of our freedoms have gone away through weak politicians.
Where do you struggle? Is it against the ways of God? Is it due to self-centered wants? Do you see the commands of the Lord as burdensome? They were not burdensome for our forefathers, they were the reason for starting a new nation. As you read the unrevised history of our nation, might it encourage you to once again value the nation in which you live.
Many are struggling to come and live in our nation. They are burdened where they live. They have little hope. There is still hope for our nation to be One nation under God.
Jesus is still saying, “Come to Me. I am humble. I am gentle. The real burden you had was so severe that I died on the cross for you. I did that willingly. Come. Be yoked with Me.
My burden is light.”