“‘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).
Jesus’ great invitation includes a call to submission, which inherently includes obedience and is symbolized by a yoke. The “yoke” was made of wood and designed to fit comfortably on the neck and shoulders of a work animal to prevent chafing. An ancient aphorism says, “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.”
By analogy, Christ wants His disciples to be submissive and learn from Him. They must submit for many reasons, but foremost is to be taught by Him through the Word.
But in the process of submission, Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart” and graciously gives rest, not weariness, to His obedient disciples. Our Lord will never give us burdens too heavy to carry, because His burdens have nothing to do with works of the law or the human tradition of good deeds.
If we are faithful and submissive, our work of obedience to Christ will be joyful and happy. The apostle John explains, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Submission to Jesus Christ is the only true liberation anyone can experience, because only then can one become what God intended.
Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,
Doth now embrace and compass me;
All discords hushed, my peace a river,
My soul a prisoned bird set free.
Sweet will of God still fold me closer,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee.
Jesus’ purpose in calling you to submission is not to embitter you but to better you. Is anything keeping you from trusting that?
From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008.