Summary: Jesus has called us to come to Him and to take His yoke because it is light and then says to each one of us to learn from Him. As the God/man he knows how to live life and he wants us to learn from Him. This is an introduction to the spiritual disciplines
Many ask themselves when problems arise – "WWJD" – or "What would Jesus do?" Yet, sometimes that could be too late to be asking that question. As Christians, we figure that if we knew what Jesus would do—then we would know how to respond to a given situation. But there is a flaw in this line of reasoning and it can be a deadly flaw for us. What we are trying to do here is to determine how Jesus would respond to a specific situation as if Je-sus lived only moment to moment. WWJD encourages us to live moment by moment.
But Jesus didn’t live from moment to moment but He lived a life that was rooted in the kind of overall lifestyle that helped Him maintain an inner bal-ance and a strong connection with His Father. And the great news is that He wants to teach us that way of life.
Dallas Willard writes, "So the idea conveyed is an absolutely fatal one—that to follow him simply means to try to behave as he did when he was ’on the spot,’ under pressure or persecution or in the spotlight. There is no realiza-tion that what he did in such cases was, in a large and essential measure, the natural outflow of the life he lived when not on the spot.
"Asking ourselves ’What Would Jesus Do?’ when suddenly in the face of an important situation simply is not an adequate discipline o preparation to en-able one to live as he lived. It no doubt will do some good and is certainly better than nothing at all, but that act alone is not sufficient to see us boldly and confidently through a crisis, and we could easily find ourselves driven to despair over the powerless tension it will put us through.
Example of wanting to do something but lack the disciplines to achieve that desire.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells us to "imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." We are to follow the example set by Jesus in our lives. A synonym for the Greek word to imitate is "mathetes"—disciple, a learner. (In the Am-plified Bible this verse reads—"Pattern yourselves after me [follow my ex-ample], as I imitate and follow Christ [the Messiah].")
What we need to do is to be prepared for whatever might occur before it happens. And how we can be prepared is the reason for this series of ser-mons on the Christian disciplines. There are twelve to sixteen Christian dis-ciplines depending on how you want to list them and over the next several sermons, we will look at each one of them and learn to apply and live them out in our lives. Jesus Christ Himself modeled them for us and showed us how to use them in our lives and He is more than willing to teach them to us today. Today, let us lay the foundation for learning the Christian disciplines:
What is the yoke that Jesus is talking about here?
A yoke was a carved piece of wood that was fitted to the neck and shoulders of a particular animal that was to wear it to prevent chafing. It was part of the harness used as a means of controlling and guiding the animal, whether it was oxen, donkeys, or mules in useful work. In many instances it was a pair of animals that was yoked together to perform work—pulling wagons or plows or a mill beam.
It was also a symbol of submission. It was used also of a student being in submission to his teacher and learning from him. Ancient Jewish writing states: "Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction." And this seems to be what Jesus had in mind here when He states to take His yoke and learn from Him. A yoke symbolizes obedience and Christian obe-dience includes learning from Christ.
The yoke we wear is heavy with all the dos and don’ts of living, all the legal-isms that is placed upon us, all the rules that man has devised so that he may a upright life—our life becomes oppressed by the burden placed on us by man like the ancient Israelites were oppressed by Pharaoh or like the Jews of Jesus’ day were oppressed or burdened by the grievous legalism placed on them by the scribes and Pharisees.
We become weary and heavy-laden from that type of yoke. The weariness that Jesus talking of here refers to our utter exhaustion from trying to do eve-rything ourselves; it is working ourselves to total exhaustion, to the point were we cannot do one more thing. It is being utterly bone tired. It is to the point where we are mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually worn out, there is nothing left in us to do anything.