Daily Reading & Meditation

Thursday (July 17):  "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me"

Scripture:  Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 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. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Meditation: What does the yoke of Jesus refer to in the Gospel? The Jews used the image of a yoke to express submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, and the yoke of God. Jesus says his yoke is "easy". The Greek word for "easy" can also mean "well-fitting". Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with his life, our will with his will, and our heart with his heart. To be yoked with Jesus is to be united with him in a relationship of love, trust, and obedience.

Jesus carries our burdens with us
Jesus also says his "burden is light". There's a story of a man who once met a boy carrying a smaller crippled lad on his back. "That's a heavy load you are carrying there," exclaimed the man. "He ain't heavy; he's my brother!" responded the boy. No burden is too heavy when it's given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love. Do you know the joy of resting in Jesus' presence and walking daily with him along the path he has for you?

Freed from the burden of sin and guilt
Jesus offers us a new kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. In his kingdom sins are not only forgiven but removed, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one. The yoke of Christ's kingdom, his kingly rule and way of life, liberates us from the burden of guilt and from the oppression of sinful habits and hurtful desires. Only Jesus can lift the burden of sin and the weight of hopelessness from us. Jesus used the analogy of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for a weight of glory and victory with him. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is his way of love, grace, and freedom from the power of sin. Do you trust in God's love and submit to his will and plan for your life?

"Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with love for you and for your ways and help me to exchange the yoke of rebellion for the yoke of submission to your holy and loving word. Set me free from the folly of my own sinful ignorance and rebellious pride that I may wholly desire what is good and in accord with your will."

Psalm 105:1-2,5,8-9,24-27
1 O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works!
5 Remember the wonderful works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered
8 He is mindful of his covenant for ever, of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant which he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac
24 And the LORD made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes.
25 He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.
26 He sent Moses his servant, and Aaron whom he had chosen.
27 They wrought his signs among them, and miracles in the land of Ham.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Grace bear us, by an anonymous early author from the Greek church

"'My yoke is easy and my burden light.' ... The prophet says this about the burden of sinners: 'Because my iniquities lie on top of my head, so they have also placed a heavy burden on me' (Psalm 38:4)' ...'Place my yoke upon you, and learn from me that I am gentle and humble of heart.' Oh, what a very pleasing weight that strengthens even more those who carry it! For the weight of earthly masters gradually destroys the strength of their servants, but the weight of Christ rather helps the one who bears it, because we do not bear grace; grace bears us. It is not for us to help grace, but rather grace has been given to aid us.' (excerpt from INCOMPLETE WORK ON MATTHEW, HOMILY, the Greek fathers).


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author Don Schwager © 2014 Servants of the Word

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers.
 

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