You may have received a 4-minute devotion recently called “I will give you rest”. The following is a continuation of that message from the same passage in Matthew 11
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11: 28 – 30)
Notes that Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you.” It is Jesus’ yoke. So, it’s a good yoke. It is given by one who is gentle and humble and, according to the promise here, as we receive and take his yoke, we will find rest for our souls.
The second thing to note is that “Take my yoke” is an instruction requiring action. We need to do something (or, perhaps, several things). What might they be?
The first thing we need to be able to do is Submit.
An ox ploughing the ground in ancient times had to submit to the yoke in order to make progress.
So do we.
According to Jesus, the yoke we submit to (or take) is easy compared to the yoke that made us weary and burdened, but it is a yoke nonetheless. In other words, initially, it might not feel comfortable or familiar. But we have to submit to it if we are to know its benefits (and make progress).
An ox ploughing the ground did the will of the farmer. The wooden frame of the yoke was hand-crafted for that ox so that the ox could do the job the farmer wanted it to do. In the same way, your and my part in God’s purposes is hand-crafted for us. We have to submit to his will in order to find out the specific things He has called each one of us to do.
Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “For we are God’s handiwork/workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2: 10)
This, I believe results in great fruitfulness in our lives. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15: 8)
The second thing we must do is Obey.
The ox carrying the yoke and ploughing the field needed to obey the farmer’s instructions.
Turn left. Turn right. Keep moving forward. Stop.
The oxen weren’t robots to be programmed; there was a relationship with the farmer; they recognised His voice. They understood his guidance. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10: 27)
And finally, Jesus calls us to “Learn from me”
There is a difference between following orders and learning. Between blindly obeying someone’s instructions and doing them with understanding.
The Psalmist said, “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.” (Ps 25: 4). We can ask the Lord to teach us (that is a good thing), but we also need to be intentional in learning.
Let me ask you some questions: Are you open to the Lord speaking to you through anybody and anything? Even people you don’t like. Even people you don’t normally agree with.
The prophet Balaam got annoyed with the donkey that tried to get God’s message to him. He didn’t imagine God could speak through a donkey. Do you imagine this or that person has nothing valuable to say? Or are you willing to hear God through anyone?
Do you have a teachable spirit?
Second, we learn by doing. We don’t learn to swim by reading a book. We learn to swim by getting in the water and doing it. One of the best ways to learn is to do.
James wrote: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1: 22)
And Jesus told the famous story of the wise and foolish man who both built houses prior to a storm hitting them. The wise man who built on a firm foundation was likened to a follower of Jesus who not only hears his words but puts them into practice.
Are you doing the things that God has been teaching you? Are you learning from Jesus by developing a teachable spirit and an eagerness to put things into practice?
OK, let’s put everything together. What have we been saying in this devotion and the last one?
Simply this: For those who are weary and feel burdened. For those who feel exhausted or stressed. Those looking for rest and peace, Jesus invites us to
· Come to Him
· Dwell with him, live with him throughout the day
· Put our hope in him, certain of his promises, certain of who he is, certain of what he has spoken
He says, “take my yoke upon you and learn from me”. In other words, he says “I have hand-crafted a yoke for you. For good works. My child, submit to the yoke. Great fruitfulness will come.”
He calls us to discern his voice, listen to it and obey it, and he says, “Come. There is much to teach you. Learn from me. Have a teachable spirit and then put into practice what you learn”.
Here’s a suggested prayer: “Lord. My life belongs to you. I submit my life to your purposes. Your yoke is easy and light compared to those things that make me weary and burdened. Please show me the yoke that you have hand-crafted for me. I want my life to be fruitful for you”
“Lord your Word says that you are a God that speaks and guides. Grant me ears to hear and discern your voice this coming year. I want to obey your instructions and do your will.”
“Lord, give me a teachable spirit and a new hunger to learn from you. Teach me new things this year and grant me the courage to put them into practice”. Amen.