God’s Yoke

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

“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.”

  • Matthew 11:25-30

Sometimes, our pastor hits a Grand Slam home run.  Why doesn’t he always do that?  For one thing (especially for those who do not understand American baseball), the bases must be loaded, someone on first base, second base, and third base, when the home run is hit.  For one, the pastor was filled with emotion after a week of both Joy and sorrow.  With those raw emotions, he held nothing back.  But for another, the Holy Spirit prepared me to have my bases filled.  The pastor did not hit a home run to run around the bases alone, I had every base covered.  For those who understand baseball, there are three bases involved and you can only be on one base, but this is spiritual baseball.

I once hit a Grand Slam double in a softball game.  I know; that’s impossible.  But the bases were loaded.  In slow pitch softball, I could usually get a hit (4 out of 5 times), but all singles.  I followed the Wee Willie Keeler rule of hitting, “Hit ‘em where they ain’t.”  (‘They’ meaning the fielders who could get you ‘Out.’)  But this time, when the left fielder started moving up to keep me from hitting a single between the shortstop and third baseman again, I hit the ball over the left fielder’s head.  When he had retrieved the ball next to the fence, I was halfway between second base and third base.  I stopped, as he did.  The three runners that had been on base had already scored.  Which base that I would run to, to be safe, depended on where the left fielder threw the ball.  I lunged toward third base, faking out the fielder.  He threw the ball wildly over the third baseman’s head.  I then ran to third without any problem, but I slid in case the catcher was able to retrieve the ball and throw it properly to third base.  I thought I had slid past third base.  Something happened to the bag, not tied down, and the bag slid toward the dugout.  I was on the right spot, but the bag was no longer there.  The catcher, seeing this technicality that I wasn’t touching the ‘bag,’ got excited and threw the ball over the third baseman’s head, into the outfield where the left fielder went running after it for the second time on this one play.  I got up and trotted to home plate.  I could have walked.  I legitimately got a double, or stretched a triple, but four runs were added to our team’s score, due to a little trickery and some errors.

The pastor did not have to trick people into making a mistake.  He made his message simple, and it was easy to figure out where he was going.

When we follow Jesus, we get God’s yoke placed upon us.  That yoke is fitted so that it fits us perfectly.  When I hiked with the boy scouts, my pack was not fitted to my body shape.  I felt every pound (or kilogram) of weight in the pack.  But I went to Philmont Scout Ranch soon before leaving the scouts, a 50+ mile trek through the New Mexico mountains.  I got a new pack for the trip that was fitted to me, and I hardly felt that it was there, although we each carried about 60-70 pounds (or about 30kg) per day in our packs (clothing, food, water, a pot or pan, a spatula or spoon, a mess kit, and half of a tent).  We each have our own yoke and it is designed for both our body (soul) shape and the work that God has planned for us.

The pastor first pointed out the seeming contradiction.  Jesus says that He will give us rest but fit us for a yoke at the same time.  A yoke is meant for work, not rest?  Look at the photo.  I have used this photo before to illustrate being unequally yoked.  One large ox is carrying all the load, while the smaller ox is simply walking next to the large ox, carrying hardly any load at all.  If we let Jesus take over, He’s the large ox carrying the load.  We get the greatest blessing of all time, the chance to walk next to Jesus.  But our problem is that we want to pilot the airplane and have Jesus as our co-pilot – in case something goes wrong.  Of course, something always goes wrong when Jesus is not running the show.

So, there is no contradiction.  We have somewhere to go, so we must move.  It is a restful movement, because Jesus is carrying the load.  Yes, you can take a leisurely walk and rest at the same time.

In a way, in the past few paragraphs, I have included each of the pastor’s three points, unwittingly, I suppose.  God’s yoke is fitted for each of us individually.  God’s yoke is made for a team.  We cannot do it on our own.  We need Jesus.  Of course, the pastor mentioned needing a church also, a body of believers, but Jesus is the One with whom we are yoked.  And God’s yoke is made for a purpose.  We have a destination, Jesus.  We must go to Him and be more like Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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