By David Faust
Part of Jesus’ call to his disciples was simply for them to “be with him.” Before he sent them out, he called them in.
It’s the same with us. Before Jesus says, “Go to the world,” he says, “Come to me.” Before he sends us to be his ambassadors, he invites us to be his companions. Before we go out to serve, we must “be with him.”
This is a hard lesson. Many of us are wired like Simon Peter: Speak first and ask questions later. Like Martha we’re too busy and distracted to sit quietly at Jesus’ feet. But if we don’t spend time with him, how can we speak for him with credibility and power? If we don’t spend time “with him,” how can we know his heart?
The Yoke Is on You
In picturesque language Jesus urged his disciples, “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” (Matthew 11:29, 30).
At first his listeners must have considered the yoke a strange illustration. They associated yokes with work, not rest. Farmers used double yokes to harness two oxen together so they would pull in the same direction at the same pace. Yokes came to symbolize submission and service.
How could the Lord call his yoke “easy”? Serve him for a lifetime, and you probably won’t say it is “easy,” because following Jesus requires self-denial and cross-bearing. But the word translated “easy” (Greek chrestos) literally meant “well-fitting,” “kind,” or “properly designed.” Jesus grew up in a carpenter’s home. He knew how to make a well-fitting yoke that wouldn’t gall the neck of an ox.
When we follow Christ, the yoke fits well. If we twist and chafe under our burdens, it’s not because our Master is cruel.
The Burden Is on Him
If the load is heavy, he will help us carry it. He equips us to face our unique responsibilities and hardships. And he’s yoked together with us. It eases the strain to realize the Master is right there beside us, pulling in the same direction, adding his strength to our own. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” (Psalm 68:19).
The worst encumbrance of all is the burden of sin and guilt, which Christ died to remove.
If we’re weary, he won’t wear us out. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Physical rest comes from sleeping, relaxing, vacationing, taking a break. Soul-rest comes from spending quality time with the Lord. When we team up with him, we can experience that kind of rest even when we’re busy.
Are you feeling too tired to serve? Christ came to give you rest even in the midst of your service. Matthew’s Gospel recalls how the prophet Isaiah portrayed the Messiah: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out” (12:20; Isaiah 42:3). If you’re bruised, he won’t break you. If you’re burning out, he won’t snuff you out.
Let him share your yoke.
1. What makes your soul feel weary and burdened? What makes it feel rested and refreshed?
2. How will you cast your cares on the Lord this week?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for February 10, 2013
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Exodus 19, 20