The Yoke: Bondage or Liberation?

The Yoke: Bondage or Liberation?

“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.” Matthew 11:29 (ESV)

 

What is a Yoke?

 

According to Merriam-Webster.com, a yoke has several definitions: 1) a frame fitted to a person’s shoulders to carry a load in two equal portions, or 2) an arched device formerly laid on the neck of a defeated person.

Yikes, and no, thank you!!

 

But God says to look deeper…A yoke is also, 3) a wooden bar or frame by which two draft animals (such as oxen) are joined at the heads or necks for working together.

 

Hmmmm, now that gives me something to think about? The yoke referenced in the Book of Matthew surely does not speak of one person managing a heavy load on their own. Nor does it speak of it as a mark of defeat. Rather, Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29-30 that believers are to take up His yoke and learn from Him for it is easy, and the burden light.

 

Still, it seems less than desirable to choose to be yoked.

 

Why Choose to be Yoked?

 

Why would a believer think that a yoke is a desirable device? Well, first and foremost…because Jesus told us to take His yoke upon us. That being said, we are fallen humans and it takes us a bit to get past the idea that a yoke seems more like an embarrassing punishment than it does a way to learn from the Master. 

 

How do we wrap our minds around it as a device of training, assistance, and an opportunity for growth? 

 

When farmers yoke animals together, they place stronger and weaker animals together resulting in added benefits. The weaker learns how to be efficient with spending their energy. The stronger has someone to share the burden of the load and learns how to share their experiences with another. In the end, both grow stronger because they learn to be effective and efficient.

 

Similarly, inexperienced people may have the knowledge and skills to perform a task, but they may not yet have the ability. They can learn from someone who has gained wisdom through experience by joining them to work together. 

 

But Jesus says that He is gentle and lowly in heart – how will yoking to the lowly give us rest? 

 

What Yoking Means to Believers

 

The body of believers is called to be the examples of biblical leadership – to become more Christ-like in our thoughts and actions. We are commanded to share life and share Him.

 

Jesus came as a servant leader (Mark 10:45). The One seated at the right hand of the Father – the Son of God – came to earth and washed His disciples’ feet. In so doing, He demonstrated that humility, gentleness – yes, lowliness – is the way of the Master. He gave the example and instructed the apostles to do the same. (John 13:4-16). 

 

You see, as believers, God’s story is written on our hearts. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 that our changed lives in Christ is our letter of recommendation – a letter written on human hearts with the Spirit of the living God. While this precious story is so personal, we are tempted to keep it to ourselves, we are truly called to share it. 

 

This means that as believers we must be yoked to the Master so when we fulfill the command to “Go therefore and make disciples…” (Matthew 28:19) we are prepared to be disciple makers.

 

Your Calling

 

It is humbling to realize that I am sometimes the weaker believer. That I must be yoked to someone stronger, so I learn and build strength.

 

It is comforting to know that as I build this strength, I can then go forth in the strength of the gospel – to carry the message of the freedom by helping to carry the burdensome loads of this world. To offer the truth of salvation freely offered in Jesus Christ.

 

So, I ask, are believers called into disciple-making and ongoing growth in wisdom? If we belong to the Body of Christ – Yes, we are!

 

Believers are called “…to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:5-7).

 

And so, it goes…gratitude. My heart rests in the knowledge that God has given me godly men and women to yoke and be yoked; for, when one is weak, another is strong. 

 

Mostly, I am grateful that I find liberation beyond my weakness when I am bound to the strength found in Jesus. 

 

Reflect:  

It is God’s work in us that becomes the foundation for biblical mentoring. How might this truth help you build intentional relationships that are rooted in the Word of God? 

 

What woman has influenced you to become a woman of influence? 

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8 thoughts on “The Yoke: Bondage or Liberation?

  1. Love that you explore what a yoke is. So often we can read Scripture and not truly apply it because we don’t study to understand it. Thank you for taking the time to do so!

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