“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and …and you will find rest for your souls."
We have all wanted to improve. All of us have ideas for ways our lives could be better. I’m sure we could each name three small things that we could change to make our lives better, just as I’m sure we could each name three mega things that we could change to make the world better. (I can think of far more than three small things for myself, particularly if you allow me to list five food items, but I digress). We all have our opinions and desires about how life and the world should be. Having opinions isn’t the hard part.
So what is the hard part? We typically lack the motivation, the will, and the where (we should start). Because of that, we look to programs that can offer motivational messaging, support for our intentions, and a plan as to where to start. In exchange for our time (and often money), there are specific promises of results.
Jesus makes promises of results as well. His promises come with a requisite call for commitment along the way—we’re going to take a moment to focus us on one.
An easy yoke.
What? Is that like a breakfast order? I am a big breakfast fan, and I have had breakfast with hundreds of people in my life (being a pastor is a good gig for breakfast people). I can almost imagine someone ordering two eggs, easy yoke, and bacon on the side.
As appealing as that might sound, Jesus is offering something much better. (Yes, you read that right… better than bacon).
When Jesus says “an easy yoke” he is referring to a way of living. In his day, rabbis would be known for their followers and their yoke. I know you are still thinking about eggs, but in ancient times a yoke was a piece of equipment that would allow a work animal to pull a plow. People compared rabbis by how burdensome their yoke was. You might hear things in that day like, “Dude, Rabbi Yosef was dropping a seriously heavy yoke on peeps.” That would mean that he was calling his people to a very challenging life (in my contemporary version of ancient religious rabbi speech).
Jesus was very different. You might be surprised to learn that his yoke is light. Check out his words and pay attention if it seems like he might be speaking to you:
“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.”
Weary? Burdened? Looking for a rest? That sounds like our generation, and if we are honest, that sounds like what we want. Jesus, the rabbi, says if you want it, you are going to need to take his yoke.
What is the yoke?
If you have been a part of or an observer of Christian culture, you might assume that the answer to that question is Jesus' teaching, and that is partially right. His teaching isn’t the destination though. His teaching is meant to lead us somewhere… to a new way of life… to a better way of life.
Jesus’ way of life is an easier way with a lighter burden!
Do you want that? Do you believe that that can be true?
I do. I have tasted it, wandered from it, come back and been refreshed in it, and then wandered again. See, I am forever enamored with and greedy for “an easier life." I chase after every shortcut possible, and in going after the easier life, I leave the easier way.
We seek the easier life that is defined by our personal comfort, but we rarely know what we really, truly need. Jesus’s easier way is defined by the pursuit of the things that will truly satisfy our soul. The fruit of the easy life is temporary comfort. The fruit of the easy way is satisfying, lasting peace.
Jesus doesn’t promise an easier life. He promises an easier way. And we can learn it together.
I am asking you to try on a few elements of the way of Jesus for forty-five days and experiment with his way with a few simple practices that I believe will release the creative activity of God’s Spirit inside your heart. It will reshape your experience of burden (it will be lighter), give you a deeper experience of love, joy and peace (can you think of anything better!), and offer meaning to the moments of your life that has likely been hard to see in the frantic pace of life.
45 Days. You can do this. Let’s go.