A talk at Morning Prayer on 17th July 2019
Jesus said, “Come to me all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
When I came to this passage, I had a vague idea that a yoke was something you put on an animal to help with things like pulling heavy ploughs.
What I never realised before was that actually a yoke goes over the shoulders of two animals so that they can work together.
This way they form a team and work together, sharing the load.
Another thing I didn’t know was that it’s common to pair an older more experienced animal with a younger one so that the younger one can learn what to do.
And so it makes sense that Jesus talks about giving us both rest and a yoke to carry.
THE BURDENS WE CARRY
What Jesus is offering here is a rest from carrying burdens on our own.
A rest from struggling on alone with our sins and frailties or feelings of shame and guilt, and also a rest from constantly trying to match up, be the best, to succeed and to never show any signs of weakness or vulnerability.
However much we try we just can’t manage to get everything right all the time and we can end up very frustrated with ourselves and full of regrets.
In other words, we can end up carrying a heavy burden of “should haves” and “didn’t dos” and “if onlys”.
But then Jesus comes and offers to take all that from us in exchange for a lighter burden that we don’t have to carry alone.
WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP
Jesus offers us, instead, a chance to be yoked together with him.
We’re given the possibility of giving up all that stuff that makes us so tired to carry in exchange for working with him, sharing the load, drawing on his power and guidance and knowing that we’re never alone.
When we take on Jesus’s yoke we enter in to a partnership, a relationship, in which we can find the security, love and forgiveness we need to make a fresh start and know that we’re always supported and loved.
And, I think, we’re yoked together as fellow-Christians.
We’re not meant to do the whole business of following Christ alone – instead we’ve been given each other, the Church, to work alongside us, support us, guide us, love us and teach us.
And then we in turn can do the same for those who come along behind us.
We are to be yoked with each other, just as we are yoked with Christ.
It can seem like there’s a lot to do to live out our calling as members of the Church and followers of Jesus, but if we can fulfil our roles with Jesus close by us, sharing the load, and if we do things his way, in his strength, then we will find that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.