Summary: Bearing the yoke of Jesus relieves us of our burdeons.
Tension, stress, overwork, exhaustion, fatigue, worn out, long-hours, no rest, sound familiar? This may sound like your daily work routine or it may sound like your struggle searching for the truth and answers to unsolved questions. This is what you find when you try to tackle every problem without help. This is what you find when you look to yourself for answers that aren’t there. Today’s message is one much more hopeful than that. It’s a message of relief that Jesus gives when we rely on Him for our strength and our peace. It’s a message about taking the yoke of Jesus willingly, walking through life side by side with Him and following the leadership that He gives us daily.
James Botts once relayed this story about a farmer plowing his field with a team of Oxen. The man noticed that one of the animals was seemingly a little bigger than the other so he asked him about it. The response from the farmer was very interesting. He said that the big animal was an older animal that was well trained and the smaller one was a young animal that was new to the yoke. The man went on to inquire as to why he put them together and this is the answer that He got, “Well you see, it’s like this. That older ox is the best ox that I’ve ever had; he knows his way around the field. The reason I put the younger one with him is so the that the older, more knowledgeable ox could teach him how to plow. If I never put them together the younger one would never learn. By himself the younger ox would pull himself to death, but together he learns to cooperate with and rest in the strength of the older ox.” (James Botts, “Rest for the Stressed”, http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon.asp?SermonID=49844&libronix=1)
In the gospel message today, Jesus talks about carrying our burdens and giving us rest. He uses the idea of a yoke to accomplish this. My father grew up on a farm and always enjoyed explaining how they plowed the field with teams of horses when he was little. As time went on, they eventually bought tractors and used them to do the heavy work. But the stories of using animals to work seems like a difficult life to this city boy. When I think of a yoke, I think of hard, manual labor. But instead of work, Jesus refers to a yoke as providing relief. How can such a difficult farming tool be used to reduce the weight of the burdens we bear today?
Jesus loved to use the ordinary things in the world to explain more difficult concepts. It was common for Him to use symbols from agriculture to explain His ministry. Today is no different. Using the example of a common yoke, he has a message for us today. He wants us to takes His yoke and submit to His lead. He will bear the weight of our burdens
The yoke keeps us on the same path
For those of you not familiar with a yoke and how it’s used, look at the cover of your bulletin. The yoke is that piece of wood attached between the two people. It’s used to attach two animals together to allow tools such as plows to be pulled by a team. Ox and horses are often used for this purpose. The two animals work much more effectively than one could because they’re able to pool their strength and pull in the same direction. They can work together to pull loads that one animal could not handle alone.