The words “yoke” and “rest” do not often appear together.
The surprising invitation of Jesus is this: “Take My yoke upon you and I will give you rest.” Usually yokes involve work, hard work that requires teams of workers bound together. When American pioneers moved west, they used 3 to 4 yokes of oxen to pull their Conestoga wagons. While one set worked, another set rested, only pulling their own weight across the plains, deserts, and mountains.
Jesus brings work and rest together.
This is one of the most amazing things about following Jesus—His burden is light and His yoke is easy. Just the other day, we were talking about the high cost of following Christ and it was all true. The outside forces of opposition are dangerous and we do serve the Lord at considerable human risk. The work of the Lord sometimes involves long hours or tedious work or even hard labor. So can it be, at the same time, easy and light?
The Easy Yoke
To follow Christ is to take up His yoke which He promises to be “easy” or literally, “useful.” In other words His yoke is easy because it works—it fits us perfectly, matching our gifts, skills, and interests. I love to conduct choirs, orchestras, and concert bands. I am trained to do this and it is an easy yoke for me to bear. When we find God’s will for our lives, we discover the easy yoke He designed for us. The other factor that makes the yoke easy even when the work is hard is the factor that the yoke-fellow relationship is a coupling, a joint venture. We do not pull the load in our own strength but in His strength, step by step along the way.
The Light Burden
Make no mistake, there are burdens to be born for the Christ-follower. The Lord often grants us the privilege of taking on heavy responsibilities in His Kingdom. Brothers and sisters in the faith depend on us to show up and follow through on these responsibilities. As we bear these burdens, they are made lighter because we have a power assist from the Holy Spirit. The Apostle tells us to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” We do not serve at the limit of our human strength but with the power of His might. We are encouraged to cast our burden upon the Lord to receive his sustaining strength. We learn that we can do more than we can do!
Rest for Your Souls
As we enter into this yoke-fellow relationship with the Lord Jesus, we will work hard and fulfill great responsibilities and our bodies will tire and require rest. We will also see a miracle. To do the work God has called and anointed us to do actually contains rest within the work! Rest for our souls—our inner person. There is rest within the work we do for God.
These are the mysteries revealed to those who would take up the yoke of Christ and bear His glorious burden. Jesus is saying, “Come do my work with me and you will find rest for your souls!”
At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you 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 souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Cast your burden on the Lord, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…
Lord Jesus, You have called me to work for and with You! I will labor to enter into that rest. As I answer that call every day, I feel Your strength beside me pulling the load. We are a team! The willingness is mine but the power is Yours. Help me keep my mind on the work and not any weariness I may encounter. In the traces with You, I am stronger than my strength, wiser than my wisdom, more sure-footed than my human sense of balance. Together, we will not stumble and the work will be done! Amen and amen.
Come unto Me
Words and Music: Charles P. Jones
1. Hear the blessed Savior calling the oppressed,
“Oh, ye heavy-laden, come to Me and rest;
Come, no longer tarry, I your load will bear,
Bring Me every burden, bring Me every care.”
Come unto Me, I will give you rest;
Take My yoke upon you, hear Me and be blest;
I am meek and lowly, come and trust My might;
Come, My yoke is easy, and My burden’s light.
2. Are you disappointed, wand’ring here and there,
Dragging chains of doubt and loaded down with care?
Do unholy feelings struggle in your breast?
Bring your case to Jesus—He will give you rest.
3. Stumbling on the mountains dark with sin and shame,
Stumbling toward the pit of hell’s consuming flame;
By the pow’rs of sin deluded and oppressed,
Hear the tender Shepherd, “Come to Me and rest.”
4. Have you by temptation often conquered been,
Has a sense of weakness brought distress within?
Christ will sanctify you, if you’ll claim His best;
In the Holy Spirit, He will give you rest.
© 2018 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved
TheJesusStory devotions are also found at KingdomWinds.com.