Unforgettable scenes from movies can move us to tears, motivate us to action, stir us to commitment, make us laugh uncontrollably, or provoke us to anger. When I watched the television mini-series, A Woman Called Moses, I was enraged! A plantation owner yoked his slave woman to a loaded wooden wagon and compelled her to pull it uphill to entertain his partying guests. To intensify her humiliation, they laughed as she dragged the wagon, grunting and stumbling.
Her yoke, both literal and symbolical, was a physical apparatus used to connect her to the wagon’s harness and also a sign of forced servitude and bondage.
Jesus used yoke in his teaching.* However, in contrast, his yoke is not an image of bondage, but of liberation. He invites his followers to “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” Learn what? Learn what he reveals about the “life” he and his Father experienced together in heaven and now he is sharing that “life” with those who will take his yoke. No other religious leader could make such a claim: not Confucius, he’s still in his grave; not Mohammed, he’s still in his grave; not Buddha, he’s still in his grave. They never came from heaven; they came from the earth and are still in the earth.
When our own spiritual bankruptcy and weight of trying to solve our problems yoke us and force us to drag a “heavy wagon,” Jesus invites us to yoke with him so that he pulls together with us. When we feel we’re going into overload, he gently and humbly shares that load so that it becomes lighter, both the yoke and the burden. Let’s remember we’re yoked with the eternal. And his personal, gentle, and humble heart invites us daily to “Take my yoke and learn from me.”
*Check out Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28-30.
Want to share an experience when you carried a heavy burden and you asked Jesus to share that burden with you?