“Come to Me, all you who labor 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.”
For the first time, I have realized the context in which these compelling, precious words of Jesus were spoken. He was addressing the multitudes who followed Him from city to city. At the beginning of Chapter 11, John the Baptist, who was in prison, was needing reassurance from Jesus. John sent two of the disciples to ask Jesus (11:2,3), “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
I have to be honest, that had never stopped me in my tracks before now.
John the Baptist knew who the Messiah was and yet, he seemed to have had a moment of doubt because he had been expecting a grand end-of-the-world day of Judgment since Jesus began ministering. After all, Jesus was the Messiah! Apparently, even John had expectations of God’s Chosen One.
Jesus answered John’s question by referring back to the prophet Isaiah, “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.” (11:5) In other words, the works of Christ are a direct fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy, so…”What’s the problem, John?”
I wonder – I said, I WONDER because I certainly don’t KNOW this – but, I WONDER if Jesus felt a certain measure of frustration because in the following verses He offers the reminder that John fulfills the prophesy in Malachi 3:1, “Behold, I send My messenger and He will prepare the way before Me.” And then Jesus begins to rebuke the cities where He had done His greatest works and yet the people refused to repent. They were determined to hold onto their religious laws.
You might say, they, too had their own expectations of God’s Chosen One.
Then I notice that Jesus begins to pray (11:25). I believe the timing of this prayer was to calm Himself down after such a strong rebuke of the rebellious, religious people. He thanks His Father for “hiding spiritual truths from the wise and for revealing them” to the simple-minded.
Oh my goodness! Jesus is calm again and, possibly, God has revealed to Him the crux of the matter. The Jews had certain expectations for their Messiah and so, even those that are eager to find the truth, are having to come to terms with, and let go of, their life-long teachings.
Jesus tells them, “Come to Me. I will give you rest from your burden of upholding religious Law. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me. Beloved, My yoke is easy.”
Do you see it? Jesus is saying, “Come to Me. Enter into a relationship with your God. It is open. It is free and it is Truth.”
His YOKE is the RELATIONSHIP we have with Him.
And He promises His yoke is easy.
Want to know what that means?
Easy. Chrestos (Khrase-toss) meaning useful, pleasant, good or comfortable. The existing religious system up to this point was all Law – it carried a very heavy burden. No one could possibly meet all of its requirements, yet, that was the only way people could atone for their sins. But Jesus said, “My yoke, which leads you in obedience to God, is comfortable. It will not chafe or cause painful places for your soul. It will not weigh you down. No, it will set you free. My yoke fits you because my Father Who is the Lord God, fashioned it just for you. He created you to fit perfectly together with Me in relationship through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
“So Child, come unto Me and I will give you rest from your labor. I will refresh you with My Living Water.”
“And when the road is hard, I will carry you.”
Wow, Lord! This one was a little deep, but I understand it so much more now. Thank You for teaching us. Thank You for showing us Your Truth. Yes, Your yoke – Your plan of salvation – is easy. It really is all about relationship with You. And it is free and good and comfortable. Thank You Father!