Monday, November 22, 2010

What is Jesus' yoke that he offers to us?

"Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)

These instinctively feel like comforting verses. But what do they mean? What easy yoke is being offered to us? What comfort for the heavy laden and those like Israel in Exodus 6:9 with "broken spirit and harsh slavery" who struggle to hear the word of God.

Darrell Johnson offers his take on Jesus' yoke, p66-67.
"The Father trusts the Son so much that he gave him the weight of the grand enterprise of salvation. And the Son trusts the Father so much that he went to the cross knowing it was the way to accomplish salvation. The Father draws near to me to draw me into his trust in the Son; the Son draws near to me to draw me into his trust in the Father. This, by the way, is what Jesus is referring to when he calls us to take up his yoke (Matt. 11:28-30). Yes, "yoke" is a common idiom for work. And yes, some used it to refer to the Torah, the Law of God. And yes, some argue that Jesus uses the metaphor to speak of his new Torah, his new Law as developed in the sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:7). But from the context of Matthew 11 we see that Jesus' yoke is his relationship with his Father. Jesus is speaking to the Father. He is praising the Father (even though his preachin is being rejected). He is speaking about no one knowing the Father except the Son, and no one knowing the Son except the Father. That is, Jesus is praying. And as he prays he turns toward his disciples and says "come to me, take up my yoke." My yoke. Something he himself wears. As it turns out, he has worn it from all eternity. He wore it during the days of his flesh on earth. He wears it even now. So his yoke is his relationship with his Father; relationship of affection and trust and intimacy. And - wonder of wonders - he calls us to enter into that relationship with him: "Take my yoke upon you." Another way to say it is that Jesus come sto free us for adoption - to become his real brothers and sisters in his relationship with the Father... I find myself shaking my head in wonder many times a day!"
Jesus, who is the only one who knows the Father and makes him known, and invites us to come in and know him, to learn from him about his Father.
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matthew 11:25-27 ESV)


  1. nice, but sounds a bit abstract to me. The strong resonance with 1 kings 12 suggests to me that it's more more about his being the wise davidic king who reunites israel & judah - which is of course related to his not being a bigger bully than other kings/gods/lords, as it is to your proverbs son stuff.

  2. Not that abstract for Johnson to say we get given Jesus' relationship with his Father? And that is what's praying about in Matthew... though the 1 Kings 12 thing has something going for it too!

  3. Well, it's not as if the 'law of Christ' isn't about exactly the same thing anyway! After all, Jesus' new law is all about the love of God and the love of a certain neighbour (Christ). But yeah, context means it must be his relationship with his dad. Schweet schtuff!