Yoke

A yoke is a long wooden beam with two recessed areas on the underside to fit over the necks of a pair of draft animals, usually oxen, to harness them together to pull a plow......

A yoke is a long wooden beam with two recessed areas on the underside to fit over the necks of a pair of draft animals, usually oxen, to harness them together to pull a plow, a cart, or some other load. (1Samuel.6:7) Yokes for humans were also used. These were simple beams or poles carried across the shoulders with a load attached to each end. With them, laborers were able to carry heavy loads. (Jeremiah.27:2; 28:10,13)

From its association with burdens and labor, the yoke is often used figuratively in the Bible to symbolize domination and control. (Deuteronomy.28:48; 1Kings.12:4; Acts.15:10) Jesus invited us: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." (Matthew.11:29) . Hence, to take up Jesus' yoke simply means to become his disciple. (Philippians.4:3) This, however, requires more than just giving mental recognition to his teachings. It requires actions in harmony with them-doing the work he did and living the way he lived. (1Corinthians.11:1; 1Peter.2:21)

It requires willing submission to his authority and to those to whom he delegates authority. (Ephesians.5:21; Hebrews.13:17) It means becoming a dedicated, baptized Christian, accepting all the privileges and responsibilities that come with such a dedication. That is the yoke that Jesus offers all who come to him for comfort and refreshment. Are you willing to accept it?(John.8:31,32)

Jesus said that his yoke is "kindly". This word has the meaning of mild, pleasant, agreeable. (Matthew.11:30; Luke.5:39; Romans.2:4; 1Peter.2:3) As a professional carpenter, Jesus most likely had made plows and yokes, and he would know how to shape a yoke to fit so that maximum work could be performed as comfortably as possible. He might line the yokes with cloth or leather. Many are done that way so that they would not chafe, or rub, against the neck excessively. In the same way, the figurative yoke that Jesus offers us is "kindly". Even though being a disciple of his involves certain obligations and responsibilities, it is not a harsh or oppressive experience but a refreshing one. The commandments of his Heavenly Father, Yahweh, are not burdensome either.(Deuteronomy.30:11; 1John.5:3)

Here is something else that makes Jesus' yoke "kindly", or easy to bear. When he said:"Take my yoke upon you," he could have meant one of two things. If he had in mind the double yoke, that is, the kind that links two draft animals together to pull the load, then he was inviting us to come under the same yoke with him. What a blessing that would be-to have Jesus by our side pulling our load with us! On the other hand, if Jesus had in mind the yoke bar used by the common laborer, then he was offering us the means by which we can make whatever load we must carry easier or more manageable. Either way, his yoke is a source of real refreshment because he assures us: "For I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart."

Christ Jesus has set us free from the yoke of bondage through the law. Jesus took upon himself the yoke of Law and fulfilled it. Therefore, through him, we can be set free from the yoke of sin and death.


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