Matthew 11:28-30 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.”
“Take my yoke upon you.” Have you ever wondered what that means? What is His yoke? Back in the day, (before Jesus) the jews were required to keep the law. Jewish law is found in the first five books of the Bible and is called the Torah by the Jewish community. It was given to the Israelites by God through Moses and consisted of rules to live by and religious observances.
Lets think about this in modern day terms. Do you think anyone could be perfect in keeping all the laws of the State in which they live? Is that even possible? I would say no. I can’t even find out the total number of laws there are in the state of Texas where I live. This question stumped even google. It took me to a possible 1,800 websites where I was somehow supposed to find this (total number of laws) on my own. I found criminal laws, civil laws, business laws, accident/injury laws, employment laws, real estate laws, education laws, healthcare laws and it went on and on. And legislators are adding new laws all the time. I don’t think anybody knows the exact number of laws there are at any given time.
Okay, so compile as many of those laws you can find and put them in five books to live by. Study them, memorize them, refer to them and don’t mess up by breaking even one of them. This is how law is….rigid, legalistic and burdensome.
Do you see? The burden of the law is heavy. It is impossible. In Ecclesiastes 7:20, the Bible tells us: “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” Yes, everyone breaks a law at sometime in their lives.
I don’t believe that God ever intended His laws to be rigid and legalistic, but that’s what happens when we live by the law and not by faith. God demonstrated His love to the Israelites by giving them the law. He set them apart to be His people. He knew their sinful nature, but He called them to right living and gave them the law to show them how to accomplish that right living. He also knew they would continually fail, because of sin that entered the world with Adam and Eve.
When God gave the Israelites the law, He desired faithfulness. Not faithfulness in keeping the law in perfection, but faithfulness in God being the only One they turned turn to and looked to for all their needs. The law was a guide, not a god. God knew they would not be able to perfectly abide in the law, but they needed the law. They needed understanding and help to stay away from sin and evil as much as possible. The law was to keep them looking to God.
The burden of sin and the law is heavy, but God had a plan to take away the sin forever and to lift the burden of the law from all who asked. He would first give the Israelites the opportunity to replace their heavy law-abiding-burden, with a yoke that is light as a feather. And he would give that same option to anybody else (gentiles) who needed their burden lifted as well. Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Jesus took our burden when He went to the cross. He took the law and made it powerless. Our sin had given the law it’s power. Because when we sin or break the law, then the consequences of the law took effect. With sin or breaking the law there are alway consequences. Those consequences make us to stand condemned. But Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.”
Romans 8:1-2 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” The law has to do with the flesh (performance) which no one can be perfect in, but Jesus is offering something greater than the flesh. He is offering us to live under the law of the Spirit. He is offering us to live under Grace rather than performance. Performance will always fail, but Grace never fails.
Jesus was simply saying, believe in me, have faith in me, stop trying to be perfect under the law, change your mind (repent) about what you think can help you (the law) and instead have faith in me. Jesus death and resurrection allowed us to trade the law of the flesh (death) for the law of the Spirit (Life).
What is it that you (and I) think can help us more (in any given problem or situation) than the Spirit and Presence of Jesus? Just like when He demonstrated His love to the Israelites and desired their faithfulness, He still desires our faithfulness today. Unlike the Israelites before the birth of Christ, we have the Spirit to help us in all circumstances (what a privilege!).
Grace says “you don’t have to perform, you don’t have to do, just come to me. Learn from me. I am gentle. I am humble.
Jesus’ yoke, His burden that He wants to give us is grace, and it is light as a feather.
Look for my next article for more on Grace – coming soon!