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“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” (Matthew 11:28-30).
I’ve heard dozens of sermons on this passage from Matthew, and each one was encouraging in its own right. How can you not find encouragement from these words of Jesus? Especially in this time, and in this culture, when all your tasks spill into and overlap one another, and everything was due yesterday, and the twenty-four hours you’re given in a day feel like only twelve. We’re so rushed and so over-busy that we need the reminder that our rest is found in Jesus.
But today, I’m conscious of the audience Jesus spoke to in His day — an audience of people who were burdened by the law they were trying to keep. Having not lived among them, we can only speculate about the thoughts that consumed them throughout their adult lives, but I am pretty sure they felt insecure most of the time. How do you possibly keep the law with perfection? How do you know if what you’re doing is really acceptable to God? And even if you managed outward perfection, how do you keep your heart from sinning?
But here is God Himself offering to help. “Come to Me.” This is the same Jesus of whom Paul later wrote, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1-4).
All of that boils down to this: When we leave behind the yoke of the law and slip on the yoke of grace, Jesus — our yoke partner — does all the work for us. As Pastor Jon Courson said, “It’s no longer ‘Do, do, do’ … it’s ‘Done.'” And since it’s done, meaning that Jesus fulfilled the law for us, then all that’s left is relationship. Instead of walking through life as condemned men and women, we walk through life as ex-captives, joyful, hopeful, and full of gratitude for our Rescuer.
Why would you want any other yoke?