9 July 2017

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30

“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.” (vv. 28-30)

Psalm: Psalm 45


In today's passage Jesus names the elephant in the room: throughout the generations when it comes to people and leadership we never really know what we want! Whether it's in politics or the Church we will call for leadership until we get some. Then we moan: "we didn't want to be led like this".

In Jesus' day the people had struggled with at the austere style of John the Baptist with his odd fashion sense and his demanding that they repent. But they were no more happy when Jesus' leadership style appeared to be more about getting alongside people, listening to them and then quietly (or otherwise) still challenging them.

At the beginning of the chapter even John, who had been preparing the way, felt he need to double check that Jesus was 'the promised one', the leader they were all looking for.

There is no doubt, when it comes to leadership, that what we really want is a leader who will change the world, the Church, our country without upsetting what we are comfortable with.

But Jesus says: "Come to me … take my yoke upon you". The yoke that Jesus refers to is nothing to do with burden of the later day ox pulling the plough. The yoke Jesus refers to is the rabbinic yoke. To take the rabbi's yoke is to take the rabbi's understanding of Scripture, which his apprentices would strive to grasp by sitting at his feet and listening for hours.

However good or bad our own lives, we all carry the burdens and imposed yokes. Jesus calls us to understand the world from his point of view (ie to take his yoke). For in doing so he assures us that our burdens will be eased - and collectively as we reflect his light the world will be changed.

Are you ready to set down your burdens? Then take hold of the yoke that our leader offers us.

To Ponder

  • What yoke have you taken from Jesus?
  • What yoke have you been given by the Church?
  • Are they the same? If not, which do you need to lay down?


Bible notes author

The Revd Paul Wood

Paul is a presbyter serving in the Connexional Team as Coordinator for Ministry Development. He grew up in Derbyshire and has served in Durham and Coventry.