These words of Jesus recently came to mind again. This time I had a few fresh thoughts about being yoked with God.
“My Yoke Is Easy And My Burden Is Light.”
Matthew 11:25-30 (NIV) At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“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.”
Now, a yoke was a thing that went over the necks of two animals. The two worked together to pull a plow or a cart. So there is a partnership.
Who was Jesus yoked to? Of course, he was yoked to the Father. He did what he saw the Father doing. And so when Jesus tells us to take his yoke upon us, he is talking about us also entering into partnership with God, pulling with God. And he said this yoke is easy and this burden is light.
Jesus was also contrasting his teaching with that of the teachers of the law, who laid heavy burdens on men’s back and didn’t lift a finger to help them.
2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV) Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers…
Now, the context of this verse is partnership with unbelievers, but the principle is broader. It is usually applied to marriage, but remember that God has also chosen us (the church) as his bride. What does it mean to be unequally yoked? Quoting from this article online:
A yoke is a wooden bar that joins two oxen to each other and to the burden they pull. An “unequally yoked” team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to go around in circles. When oxen are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they are at odds with one another.
So think about this for a moment. Jesus is telling us to be yoked to God. Wouldn’t you think that would be “unequally yoked.” After all, God is by far the stronger partner, isn’t he? So wouldn’t such a team end up going in circles like the weak ox and strong ox yoked together?
And God’s burden is light? The things God accomplishes are easy? He created the universe! He is the God of miracles! These things seem incredibly difficult for us, but they are easy for God. Yet God calls us to be yoked with him, to partner with him in his work, and says it’s easy! Is it easy to do the things Jesus did while he walked the earth?
How Can We Be Yoked With God And Not Be Unequally Yoked?
So God wants us to be yoked to him, but doesn’t want us to be unequally yoked. How is that possible? We have to be as strong as God is if we are to be equally yoked with him.
It’s only possible to be as strong as God is if God lives inside of us! And He does! It’s only possible for God’s burden to be “easy” for us and God’s yoke to be “light” for us if the Holy Spirit lives in and empowers us. And so we are not unequally yoked with the Father because when we are united to God and have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is the Holy Spirit yoked to the Father. In that light, consider these scriptures:
1 Corinthians 6:17 (NIV) But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
John 17:21-23 (NIV) … that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 4:34 (NIV) “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
John 14:10-14 (NIV) Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Jesus came as a man, being God but made like us in every way, with similar weaknesses as we have. Yet he was able to be equally yoked with the Father because he was in the Father and the Father was in him. And so, we also have been equally yoked to God if the Holy Spirit dwells in us. And our burden is light. Why?
Philippians 2:13 (NIV) for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
In contrast, the Old Covenant law was a heavy burden because it demanded but didn’t empower. If you feel like following Christ is a heavy burden, you are probably living according to the law instead of the gospel. The burden the gospel brings us is easy, the yoke is light, and it’s a pleasure to pull with God, working with him to accomplish his work.
If you are weary and heavy-laden, tired of trying to pull a heavy burden on your own, come to Jesus and let God work in you to fulfill his good purposes!