15 October 2013Matthew 11:20-30
"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." (v.28-30)
When I learned English as a Spanish-speaking child I found some
words very confusing. They sounded the same but meant very
different things. People would laugh when I used the wrong one,
which left me wondering what I had said that was so funny. One of
these words was the one that describes the centre of an egg - a
yolk. Imagine how confusing it must be to have people laughing when
you say that Jesus said, "Take my yolk upon you ... "
I eventually discovered the difference between yolk and yoke and I got the joke. A yoke is used to link two animals together in order for them to pull a cart or a plough. The people who Jesus was speaking to would have understood the yoke as a symbol of an unwilling burden being imposed on them. But Jesus was going to change their understanding.
Jesus was teaching his confused followers about the way they should live if they were to be his disciples. He compared the way many lived out their faith to children who refuse to play no matter what you offer them. When John the Baptist came, and by his life and teachings challenged the easy-going way people responded to God, they mocked him. When Jesus came and mixed with ordinary people others complained about the bad company he kept.
Jesus tells his disciples that he and the Father are one. He therefore has the authority of God to teach whom he chooses and what he teaches.
In choosing them, Jesus is not offering a faith made a burden by complicated rules and rituals. In the way that a farmer takes care of his animals by lining a yoke so that it does not damage them, Jesus is offering his followers a relationship with God based on love. A yoke 'lined with love'.
- In what ways do our church services, or the work carried out by the Church, make it difficult or easy for new people to understand that being Christian is being in a loving relationship with God?
- In what ways does our relationship with God help us to understand the difficult and easy parts to being a follower of Jesus?
- In a time when most people live in cities and do not have close links with agriculture or the countryside what contemporary examples might you use alongside those given by Jesus?