Thursday 6 July 2023

The Yoke's On You

Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.

Yes, I’m quoting Jesus. Specifically, from Matthew 11, verses 28 to 30. Just as importantly, though, I think we all need to say it, feel it and do it.

It’s so easy to leave these words with Jesus, a call to “the saviour” whose company brings comfort and peace. Life is easier with Jesus.

Except it isn’t. Simpler, maybe. Better, for sure. Fulfilling, certainly. Empowering, definitely. But easier it’s not. Not just because of the Bible Jesus whose words we read, but the living Jesus with whom we share life.

There’s two parts to this. The first is the rest that we can find in Jesus. To be clear, that’s not sleep or a break or “down time,” it’s rest. Rest rejuvenates and refreshes. It gives us the opportunity to rebuild, re-energize and re-engage the world with enthusiasm and spirit. I think Jesus is really talking about a sabbath time here, time for us to put down our everyday things to spend a little time on our relationship with the divine. And that is real rest: it refreshes and reinvigorates us. And we need that if we’re going to yoke ourselves with Jesus.

Yes, that’s the point: with Jesus. We might think of a yoke as an individual thing a beast of burden wears to help carry its load. We’ve even made it a symbol of hard labour or use the metaphor of the yoke of oppression. It’s constricting and constraining and a sign of hard work. But not with Jesus.

In Jesus’ world, a yoke wasn’t an individual thing at all. Its purpose was to connect two together in order that they may share the load they carry. The “burden” of being Jesus - of knowing the divine spirit and very earthy humanity of each of us and living love and grace into the world as we learn to do from Jesus - isn’t just light, it’s inspiring and life giving, and, most importantly, shared. Jesus walks with us, bonded to us, and shares the load we carry, both inspiring us with that burden of being Jesus and uplifting the many burdens which the world might lay on our shoulders.

So let’s not stop there. If the divine spirit and earthy humanity that Jesus shows us is alive in each of us and we can understand this yoke Jesus talks about as what binds us to Jesus, to share our burdens with Jesus, of the spirit and of life, then why wouldn’t we see that same yoke connecting us to another?

In a world where so many are grieving, struggling with mental health, wrestling with life, can we not offer to share their burdens? It takes little expertise to sit down, just like Jesus, and say “tell me your story.” Or how can I help share your burden? For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.