Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. MT 11:28-29
A cruel master of a sailing ship had a slave that he beat regularly. He controlled him with fear. When the slave did anything that displeased his master he received a severe beating, often to the point of near death. His master still expected him to perform his duties.
One day in desperation, the slave threw himself into the water and was picked up by another ship.
His new master was of a gentle, kind nature, and took him in and treated his wounds and gave him work to do on his ship. The slave worked hard and cheerfully under his new master because his kind treatment brought peace and gratitude to his heart.
As he worked for his new master, the slave realized that there were certain things that his new master required of him. He was required to stay with the ship and always trust their destination to the master and be willing to do what he was asked to do. Because of the unity on the ship, the master didn't allow any strife or discontent. Those who were unhappy with the rules were allowed to leave.
The slave was up early one morning, sweeping the deck. He stopped and reflected on his time on the ship with his new master. His new master permeated love and kindness. His old master was exacting and difficult to please. His work was much the same, but his new master was helpful.When a load was too heavy to carry, he helped him. When he was sick his new master gave him tea, broth and medicine to care for his needs.
His old master had never carried his load but rather punished him for dropping things. When he was weak, he still required the same as before.
Was he happy to yield himself in service to his new master? Absolutely! His needs were met. He loved his new master. He was promised a rich reward at the end of the voyage.
The slave's old master is a picture of the law. The law is harsh and exacting. It beats us up and makes us realize that we need a new master, Jesus Christ who paid our sin debt for us and receives us into his kingdom.
He binds up our wounds, forgives our sins, opens our blind eyes and sets us free from our prisons of unbelief, our addictions, our fears, our bitterness and heartaches.
Jesus says, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." After the initial encounter with Jesus, when we come to him for forgiveness of sins, he still extends his hand and says "Learn of me.....take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Like the slave on the kind masters ship we find his yoke to be easy and his burden light. We want to yield ourselves to his destination for our lives because of the great love he has given us. We want to spend time in his presence because we know that his burden truly is light. Because he has delivered us from the brutality of the law. He helps us do those things that we are powerless to do before because with him all things are possible and all things have become new.
We are now in the yoke with Christ Jesus, and learning from him. We go where he goes, do what he does. We do not balk or fight the yoke, because it is easy to bear.
Our Teacher is gentle and lowly in heart and in his yoke we find rest for our souls. Because he is pulling the majority of the load we find his yoke easy. In comparison to our previous master, his burden is light.
There is an error that many of us can fall into and that is of focusing on the yoke as if the yoke itself saves us. It is on him that our focus must be. Because it is he that makes our load light. It is Jesus that is leading us and keeping us out of trouble. Not the yoke. The yoke joins us to HIM, the keeper of our soul.