“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” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Do you know what a yoke is? According to a dictionary, a yoke is “a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals, and that attached to the plow or the cart that they are to pull.” I have seen the yoke in Korea in my childhood. I grew up in farmland, and I could see oxen with the yoke that were cultivating farms or that were carrying heavy burdens. The York is shown below in these pictures.


Pictures from Google pic.1(left) https://theidolbabbler.com/2015/07/25/yoke-and-purpose/

Pic2(middle) https://homesteadontherange.com/2017/01/31/ox-yokes-and-collars-withers-yokes-and-ox-collars/

pic. 3(right)(http://www.lewis-clark.org/article/3105)

In the picture of the right side, you may see two big holes. The two big holes are for necks of a pair oxen (or a pair of the other animals). As we see the yoke in these pictures, a pair of oxen carry a yoke. Therefore, if two oxen are under the same yoke, they cannot move independently. If one of them does not make sincere to work, the other would feel a more of a heavy burden. However, in contrast, if one does sincerely to work, the other feels easier to work.

In the tradition of Israel, when people chose one pair of oxen for a yoke, they decided that one of them is weaker; the other is stronger. When they make the oxen carry burdens, they give the stronger ox the heavy burden and provide the weaker ox a smaller charge, which is lighter. The reason they do it this way, which is not equal, is that it makes the stronger ox work sincere. That means, the weaker does not work just by walking with the stronger. What’s interesting is that if one makes the stronger work alone, the stronger would not work or not to carry burdens because they feel awkward to carry duties alone. Therefore, even though the weaker would not work or carry a smaller load walking beside the stronger, the stronger works hard and carries the heavy burdens easily.

Through the Gospel of Matthew 11:29-30, the Lord invites us to take the yoke together. The Lord says, “come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” We have burdens in life such as taking care of family, handling our living, working hard every day, concerning health cares, and so on . We also have burdens of sins, which we cannot be saved from by ourselves. Sometimes, we would share our responsibilities with our families or with friends. However, sometimes our families or our friends would share their burdens more with us. That’s life, which we have to live with in this world.

What about social burdens? Poverty, racism, sexual harassment, economic classism, immigrant issues, and even natural disasters. We watch the news every day. Through the report, we know global disasters, poverty, lack of water, so on, and so on. Do you think we could find any solution for the social burdens by ourselves? The Lord, who knows us very well with our duties of life in the world, invites us. he says, “Take my yoke upon you.” You may know, the yoke of the Lord is not for the Lord, but that is ours. Our Savior, the Lord, who knows our weakness, would work for us as did the stronger oxen because our Lord is “gentle and humble in heart.” If we learn “gentle and humble” from the Lord, we will find rest for our souls.          

To be under the yoke of Jesus, we should be gentle and humble as was he. “Gentleness” is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. The Greek, praotes means gentle, mild, meek, and to be an inwrought grace of the soul. Gentleness is not weakness. The truly meek person is one whose life has been empowered by the Holy Spirit, which comes from faith that has been energized by the Words of God. The word, “gentle” has been used for wild horses which are trained to behave in a particular acceptable manner. The wild horses could not be handled at all by people. They are active and energetic in the wild. After they are trained, they become meek enough so that a child could ride them. However, they do not lose their power to run, to carry a rider, or to work cattle. The gentle horses submit to their owners, but they are still fierce and wild for others.

“Gentleness” and “meekness” are not down putting of ones self with an affected, false sense of humility; rather, it is a robust, free, confident kind of characteristic. “Gentleness” is very desirable and compassionate inner mind. Gentleness is, first of all, our attitude toward God and not people. The person who has been “gentled” by God is in the image of God in meekness. She/he is also the person who is directed by God. “Meekness” tends to be emotional. It deals with how we feel within, while outwardly, we may be acting gently. Meekness has mostly to do with our spirit within. In other words, for the character of gentleness, the inner mind is still fierce, desirable, compassionate, wild, and durable. However, the style brings out gentle acts while respecting and admiring others. That’s why it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

We know some of the gentle and humble figures in the Scriptures. In Number, “the man Moses was very humble, more so than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Number 12:3). Moses challenged his leadership by his siblings, Aaron and Miriam because he married the Cushite woman. However, Moses was not angry with them. How could Moses get this kind of recognition as being gentle and meek? He could be gentle and humble for God because he has walked with God at the wilderness for 40 years.

As you know, Moses killed a person in Egypt because he could not control his anger by himself, and he escaped from Egypt. When he became a shepherd in Midian wilderness, he met God in the burning bush. After that, he walked with God throughout the desert. That Moses became gentle and humble towards God is only by the grace of God.

Let us walk with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus promises to carry our burdens so that we can rest. Jesus took our heavy loads out already through the Cross. We need to walk beside Jesus as a pair of oxen walk together. When we are under the yoke of Jesus, we can be rest because Jesus carries the heavy yoke for us.

We learned that when a pair of oxen carry a yoke, most of the heavy parts are put on the taller and stronger ox while the shorter and weaker ox follows the track-they walk together. That’s how Jesus carries most of the weight on his shoulder, and we follow him. Living life under the same yoke with Jesus is to live life with Jesus walking tightly together. We can rest only by being together with those who are meek. We can take a rest from our burdens by being together with those who are humble.

Who is humble and meek? Jesus says, “I am gentle and humble in heart.” You will enjoy the excellent rest when you follow Jesus, who is gentle and humble. The rest is not about getting rid of the problems. It is about having a feeling of peace while we are in the storm. It is like the scripture says, “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you (Isaiah 43:2).” God does not say; I will remove your burdens in your life. Instead, God says, “I will be with you.” Jesus gives us all the peace that endures forever and that overcomes all the burdens of life. That’s the grace of God.

How God loves us! John Wesley says in his famous sermon, “Free Grace,”

“How freely does God love the world! While we were yet sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. While we were dead in sin, God spared not his own Son but delivered Him up for us all.

Moreover, how freely with him does he give us all things! Verily, free grace is all in all! (John Wesley, “ Free Grace”)

That’s the amazing grace of God! In our life, sometimes we feel a burden too much, and we feel lonely. However, remember that God never leaves us alone. Let us go together to the Lord with our neighbors who are weaker as our Lord walks with us gently and humbly!


Pastor Jenny