I hope the sense of irony in yesterday’s post was not lost on you. I believe there is an absolute (though not always easily discernible) difference between the yoke of oppression the Church lays on us and the yoke of Jesus Christ. Compare the list of Church and cultural expectations I published yesterday (40 items) to Jesus’ two expectations: Love God, love people.
I believe Jesus’ yoke is easy; I know His burden is light. In my recovery from pornography addiction I have personally experienced the unbelievably, extraordinarily, miraculously easy burden of Jesus Christ. It is a freedom and a lightness I never dreamed existed.
I believe the Church wrongfully exchanges the burden of Christ with its own arduous yoke, and that many an unsuspecting Christian now lies prostrate on the floor of the Temple, crushed under the weight of Holy Expectations.
The phrase “My yoke is easy” comes from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 11, verse 30. To try to understand what Jesus meant by these words let’s analyze His statement in context:
- Chapter 11 opens with Jesus preaching in Galilee. John the Baptist is in prison, and he sends his followers to ask Jesus to confirm or deny that he is the Messiah. Jesus confirms to the crowd that John is a messenger sent from God and that John’s purpose was to announce Jesus’ coming
- Jesus answers John’s followers’ challenge by asking them to observe the miracles He performs and the fact that “the good news is proclaimed to the poor”
- Jesus goes on to chastise those who fail to believe in Him despite His miracles
- Finally, Jesus prays to the Father and confirms His own identity as the Father’s Son, and concludes with the text we are analyzing: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.”
This closes chapter 11…but let’s not stop our analysis there:
- Chapter 12 opens with Jesus challenging the Pharisees on the laws of the Sabbath
- The chapter goes on to deal with additional conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees over the legalistic expectations of the priesthood, as well as the spiritual expectations of His mother and brothers (“whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”)
Thus we see that the closing remarks of Chapter 11 (our primary text) set up Chapter 12 beautifully!
In context, then, I believe verses 1-27 of chapter 11 provide justification for why we follow Jesus: He is the Son of God. Furthermore, I believe chapter 12 tells us about following Jesus: He lives only to fulfill the expectations of His heavenly Father, not priests, pastors, legalism, culture, or His biological family.
I believe Jesus wants people to serve the Father, not culture (no, not even ‘Christian culture’).
I believe Jesus wants people to worship the Creator, not the creation.
I believe Jesus desperately desires for people to see with absolute clarity the difference between Truth and Idolatry.
Yes, His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.