Listen, Obey, Witness
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy, and My burden light.”
Thank you for joining today as we continue our Ordinary Time journey focused on listening to, obeying, and witnessing to Jesus.
This statement of Jesus, concerning taking up of a yoke – a weight, an obligation, a means of being controlled – seems odd. Why would Jesus ask us to do that? Didn’t He come to free us and take the weight of sin off our shoulders? And anyway, I’m not going to allow myself to be obligated to anyone.
First, let’s be honest about Jesus’ statement. Yes, He means we are to submit to His will. We are to turn over control of our lives to Him. We are to allow Him to direct us and take us where He will, not where we will. We are to let Him do this through His Word and His Holy Church.
I can hear people say, well forget that. Who does God and His Church think they are. I can make my own decisions.
Yes, we can make our own decisions, and this decision is a key one because unless we accept the yoke of Jesus, we have no hope of entering His rest.
Is this decision easy? No. It is bad enough when we have to allow someone else to drive us around, much less to have completely surrendered control over our lives to another.
What may help us in reaching the right decision is the metaphor Jesus uses, the yoke itself. The yoke is used throughout scripture as a symbol, but unless we liked Westerns (Wagon Train?) or lived near Amish farmers, we have little practical knowledge of what a yoke is.
A yoke is a binding devise for two animals who walk side-by-side. Oxford Dictionary defines yoke as: ‘a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.’
You see, Jesus is not asking us to pick up His yoke and put it on our necks and do it all ourselves, for His yoke is Him on one side and us on the other. We are bound together when we accept Jesus and decide to walk in His footsteps, side by side doing His work.
We never go it alone with Jesus. He stands with us, sets to work with us, plows God’s field with us. He tells us that His yoke is easy, and light because He is carrying almost all the weight for us.
If we bind ourselves to Jesus, accepting His yoke, we accomplish great things. Lives are saved, sinfulness is ended, the good news is proclaimed, people accept Jesus and they are made new. The joy we encounter in doing Jesus’ work, at His side, makes even the slightest burden lighter.
Let us then listen to Jesus’ call to the yoke, obey Him by taking it up, and walking with Him witnessing the kingdom, and drawing in those who do not know Him to also take up the yoke.