Burdens and Yokes

Oxen

“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”

-Matthew 11:29-30

Many Christians take this verse to mean that when you follow Jesus…everything will magically become “easier.”

What is interesting is that the end of verse 30 reads “and My burden…”

The definition of burden is “a heavy load” and it’s interesting how the Lord says that his heavy load is light. At first this doesn’t seem to make sense, but when you know a thing or two about animals being yoked together (or even what a yoke is) then more pieces start to fit together.

 

YOKE

A wooden bar or frame by which two animals (as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together

 

In order to yoke two animals:

-The horns should be matched in their length, shape and position.

-They should have a straight back. They should not be too fat or two thin. The bones should be healthy and strong. The team should be well-matched in these qualities.

-The team should be evenly matched in length and height, as well as, coat color/appearance.

-A well matched team is two animals with the same coloring, horn shape, face markings.

-But of far more importance to the team matching in appearance, is that the team matches in their willingness to work. The travel and walk of the pair should be the same speed and length of step, with their heads held at the same angle.

Pretty cool right?
First of all, the reason that the Lord picked this illustration is that the best matched pair of “oxen” or those “yoked together/yoked with Christ” are those that look, walk, grow, and work together with the same goal and same willingness.

What an incredible picture of what God meant when He said in Genesis 1:26 as He made man in His image and likeness. He designed us to mirror His will and reflect His glory.

So not only do the oxen have to be “yoked” together, but the best pair was described as “of far more importance to the team matching in appearance, is that the team matches in their willingness to work.”

We often think that we can just yoke ourselves to Christ and completely rest while he does all the work.

Jesus has united us with the Holy Spirit and if we refuse to do the works that were set out before us (not for the purpose of earning salvation) then how can we expect others to come to know Him?

The fact that we (Christians/Disciples) have the Holy Spirit secures our own salvation from the wrath of God. The works are the means of introducing others to the saving power of Christ. That is why He called His disciples together, gave them the power of the Holy Spirit and tasked them with making His name known to the edges of the earth. He “yoked” them to the Holy Spirit so that the daunting task of “preaching to the world” would now be possible through Christ who strengthens them.

So when we yoke ourselves to a Godly spouse or to Christ we have to be willing to bear the same “work load.” The common misconception is that the “work” is less and the work becomes easier.

The truth is…

The work remains the same.

If two Oxen are pulling a plow across a field and one Ox is stronger than the other…the smaller Ox may benefit and feel as though the work is “lighter” but that is because the Larger Ox bears more of the weight (Jesus). The field does not shrink, the plow does not change size, and the direction of the work remains the same.

The ONLY thing that changes when we yoke ourselves to Christ is that His strength allows for the formerly impossible work of salvation to be done because He now has joined us.

The reason our personal burdens are heavy…is because before we meet Christ we carry the weight of sin and death upon our own shoulders. When Christ joins with our lives, our burden and yoke becomes light because we are now connected to the infinite power of Christ.

He even gave this example in his “yoke” illustration with another cool fact:

“Two oxen yoked together can pull more than double the combined weight two single oxen could pull, if the conditions, training, etc., are optimum.”

In relation to being equally yoked to a spouse…it’s not just two people coming together to carry their own burdens, but because they SHARE one another’s burdens, are bound together, look like Christ, and are willing to do the same work for Him…they can pull MORE than double their combined weight! So yes, their load seems lighter.

How much more so with Christ? He is our ultimate “lover” and “husband” and if we/the Church….His bride…yoke ourselves to Him…how much lighter will our burdens feel?

The work is the same. Our God is the same. Our burdens are the same.

But….

Together, our strength is multiplied.

That is the nature of the kingdom of God.

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