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Wednesday: “For My Yoke is Easy” — 15 Comments

  1. The notion of burden carrying was a raw point with the Jews of Jesus time. Roman soldiers would ask Jews to carry their packs for them. But it wasn't only that; they also carried the heavy burden of taxes and a government system that sat uncomfortably over Jewish customs and law. There were skirmishes and rebellions and an undercurrent of discontent. The yoke of captivity was something that was never far from the Jewish mind. And in the midst of all this, Jesus promised an easy yoke and a light burden.

    It is another one of those contrasts that Jesus makes between earthly kingdoms and the Kingdom of Heaven.

    I am reminded that in Luke 11:23-25, Jesus also said:

    Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and lose or forfeit their very own self? NIV

    That sounds like a heavy burden to me, except for one thing: Jesus carries it for us.

  2. Today's lesson invites us to reflect upon: "Many people around us consider God’s law heavy-handed, difficult to comply with, and, at times, irrelevant. How can we help them to discover the beauty of the law and inspire love for the Lawgiver?"

    Could it be that people consider God's law heavy-handed because Christianity has presented God's law as no different in nature and character to human laws/rules? Consider the state of the world in general of recent - is there growing discontent for laws and rules that people see as heavy-handed, difficult to comply with and at times irrelevant?

    Yet there is not the same discontent being expressed about the law of respiration - the law that 'requires'/necessitates that your lungs ongoingly exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen every few seconds for the entirety of your life. People are perfectly free to not adhere to that law if they wish - yet they willingly embrace it. And the likely don't even consider it a law they are living in harmony with.

    What if God's laws were seen in the same light as the law of respiration - that they are merely the cause-and-effect principles that underpin and therefore enable life to function abundantly?

    If, as the lesson proposes, the yoke referred to in Matthew 11:30 is a symbol representing law and the word "easy" can also be translated as benevolent, then Jesus is inviting us to be linked with Him via joining with Him in embracing His benevolent law. This benevolent law is the 'law'/functional principle of self-giving love - the most foundational principle that underpins the functioning of every aspect of abundant life. This is why Jesus could say that on this law (Matthew 22:36-39) hang all the rest of the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40).

    Perhaps, if we were to realise that 'God's law' is simply how life works (ie the principles that constitute and therefore functionally 'govern' the reality of abundant life), we would reflect that in and through our lives and others would come to see that 'God's law' is instead the true way to freedom, not bondage (John 14:6).

    • I don't disagree Phil, yet, however some may have misrepresented the Law of God to others, when Jesus came and lived the law perfectly, He ended up on the cross as one hated and despised. There is more to this misapprehension of the law than merely bad demonstrations of it. Besides, most can easily spot a hypocrite.

      The main problem is that sinners love sin, being naturally selfish, and get caught up with indulgent ways that numb the senses and blind the sinner to the sinfulness of their sin. The very thought of surrendering the will to a Holy God seems absurd to most. So what has led some sinners to delight in the law? When oppressed by their own guilt, remorse, and sufferings(through the work of the Holy Spirit), they see the peace and Rest in those who have taken Jesus' yoke upon themselves. But this will be a relatively small number compared to the many who will never "sing the song of Moses...and the Lamb". The vast majority "love not the truth", but find "pleasure in unrighteousness"(2 Thess 2:10-12). This is what kept the world off of the ark, after 120 years of Noah's perfect demonstration of God's will in his daily life.

      Demonstrations of peace, joy, an easy yoke and a light burden, will attract those few who realize they "have no rest day or night", yet desire to find peace. It was the prodigal son who returned to the father, while the son who never left actually despised the father and his returning son.

      • And yet the story is left open ended by Jesus on purpose - the older brother might yet choose to accept his father's love. The father actually reached out to him so he could also see how much he loved him. I like to believe it made a difference for him and those people you mention who love sin.

    • Thanks, Phil, for redirecting the focus of the lesson. As a young man, I gave up on religion because I just could not keep the mandates of the church on my own. Years later, I was introduced to the beauty of the Gospel. Yes, obedience is important, but in Christ it becomes as natural as breathing. Because we live in a rebellious world under Satan's domination, we can develop impaired breathing but the Great Physician has the healing remedy and we can trust Him with our souls.

      Thanks for giving us a counterbalance to the failed theology our Study Guide represents. And Paul does have the answer and it is not the Law (see Ephesians 2 and other references in Paul's letters).

      • In reading of your experience Richard I am reminded that two concepts (there are others) that have become incredibly contaminated are the concept of 'love' and the concept of 'God's law'. So much hurt and damage has come to so many people as a result. I wonder who has been behind this contamination and why?

        Praise God indeed for opening our eyes to the beauty of the Gospel where obedience (ie willingly living in harmony with) is as natural and desirable as breathing fresh air.

  3. Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
    Job 38:2

    For My Yoke is Easy”

    'Why is living a life of obedience to God’s law one of more restfulness than one in which we disobey that law?'

    That question can be turn around so many ways. Eg how can one be happy with his own spouse instead of living with someone else spouse?
    Living an obedience life in Christ is always restful than living a live in disobedience. When we live for Christ we join his in his service to work for the good of others. When we live for ourselves we only look out for ourselves, sometimes immediate families or extended families but 'we' always come first. Living like that always lead to bondage. Bondage to the world- yoked to Satan.

    Can one go through suffering while yoked to Christ? Yes. Hope we know whether that suffering is of Christ or being busy body in other people affairs.

  4. Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. Isa 48:12

    "yoke of bondage" that Paul was speaking about is being a part of the 'kingdom of this world.' But what constitutes the 'kingdom of this world? Any thing that goes against the word of the Lord and against his laws. Any thing spiritually, physically, mentally and socially in ones' life.
    Can someone be a part of this world kingdom/yoke to bondage without even knowing it? How do one get to know what we are yoked to, unless the Holy Spirit reveals it to us?

  5. Jesus demonstrated fully the law of God, as it was written concerning Him: “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart”(Ps 40:8). The apostle Paul exhorts all to “let this mind be in YOU”(Phil 2:5). If Jesus' “yoke” of allegieance to God's law was His delight, it is easy to see why He would call it “easy” and “light”. For those who enjoy hiking/backpacking, they find it a delight to carry their gear for miles into the wilderness to enjoy a beautiful location for a few days, and don't think of their packs as too heavy, or the hike as a burden. Rather, on their return home they start planning the next trip! Jesus is inviting us to also delight to do God's will by following His example, which we may do if repenting of pride, selfishness, and love of the world. Otherwise, the yoke will appear galling and too heavy to bear.

    The yoke of bondage is sin. For sinners, there is “no rest day or night”, and “the way of Peace they have not known”(Rev 14:11, Rom 3:17). Peace and Rest = Freedom.

    "Why is living a life of obedience to God’s law one of more restfulness than one in which we disobey that law?"

    The best answer to this question will make no sense to those who have not experienced the promised Rest. Personal experience alone will understand the answer.

  6. Why is living a life of obedience to God’s law one of more restfulness than one in which we disobey that law? That is the question. The Israelites focused on the acts of the law not the spirit of the law. Unfortunately a lot of us SDA's do exactly the same thing. So yes, we can't keep the law in our own strength so the "yoke" of God's law becomes quite grievous. When Jesus walked this earth as a man he kept his father's law because of law not duty. If I'm keeping God's law because I love him, it will be successful in his strength not mine and because the motivation is God centered it will be non grievous. Reflecting back to David and Bathsheba. By one sin David broke at least 5 of the 10 commandments. Said another way. If no one committed adultery, there would be no rape, porn, child molestation, sex trafficking, etc. All just by keeping 1 of the 10 commandments. Imagine adding the 10th commandment, what else that we live with daily would be eliminated from life?

  7. The Israelites were under the yoke of bondage in Egypt for over four hundred years and their taskmasters made things worse for them. Death is better than bondage. God, however, saw the affliction of the Israelites and He came down while Moses was tending the flocks. And the Lord said , I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows, And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians , and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large , unto a land flowing with milk and honey... Exodus 3: 7, 8. God indeed fulfilled His promise and He delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. But that deliverance needed the cooperation of the Israelites when He asked them to kill a lamb and take its blood to strike it on the two door posts and on the upper door post of the houses , wherein they shall eat of it. This the Israelites did and they were saved from the death of the first born of the Egyptians.
    Throughout history when God wanted to save His children from troubles, He asked them to do something, that's to cooperate with Him. Whenever they obeyed, God won the battle for them.

    Jesus' invitation involves a few doing words like come, take and learn. However, what makes His yoke easy is who He is and what He can do for us when it's in our hearts to obey. Someone has said and it's a good quip : When it's in heart to obey God, He sees that, that's all man can do and He gives him all the power and strength to do it. This is like the ten commandments, some people think it cannot be obeyed which is not true. It's one word that makes it easy to obey God's commandments, " LOVE "
    John the beloved disciple of God sums it up when he said : For this is the love of God , that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5 : 3
    Let's come to Jesus and unite with Him in our struggles, sorrows etc. and He will help us to find rest for our souls.

  8. There are a few doing words in Jesus' invitation like come, take and learn. These doing words are summed up in one word " Cooperation " Throughout history when God's children cooperated with Him, He won the battle for them. For me, cooperation can be compared to obedience. Someone has said and it's a good quip : " When it's in the heart to obey God , He sees that, that's all man can do and He ( God ) gives man all the power and strength to do it. It's like marriage which efforts take both the husband and the wife to find success. However, in our cooperation with God we should bear in mind that the end product depends on God who has promised. He is faithful and true who had promised. For me, cooperation may also be prompted by love. Love makes obedience easy. Therefore, when we look at the commandments of God it's love that helps us to obey it. When people think God's commandments cannot be kept , John the beloved disciple of Jesus says we can. He says : For this the love of God, that we keep His commandments : and His commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5 : 3. When we accept to do things God's way, there will be happiness, peace , contentment etc. May God help us!

  9. When Jesus said those words and when we read them a visual comes in. One of a wooden yoke that binds two animals to work together. Or a personal yoke that balances two buckets of heavy content so it's barely comfortable or tolerable. But....
    ... what if the yoke that Jesus spoke about was only a reference to a higher concept. What if the Cross was the wood His yoke is made of and the connections of metal /leather etc represent His arm around the person (close contact). Teaching the person (learning of Him) with His arm around them showing the way. What if... HIS yoke is easy and the burden light simply because HE is the yoke?

  10. Richard Myers shared about his early religious experience. I also have noticed during my time of learning about the Faith of Christ that the organized Church can be heavy-handed, placing their own demands between the believer’s faith in the love of the Redeemer and his Salvation.
    Pharisees, priests, and scribes of the organized Church in Jerusalem attempted to influence/control other synagogues and through them the believers in the Jewish faith throughout Israel. It led to controlling the believer's access to this new Gospel where all are invited to enter the Father’s kingdom of heaven by simple faith.
    They attempted to prevent them from leaving the old religious system in which their power was invested - Matt.5:20KJV; Matt.23:13KJV.
    Even in our time, the organized church leadership’s regulations, requirements, and ordinances are still the burden which the believer in the Faith of Christ needs to navigate before getting to the simple, all-liberating Gospel message given to direct us to, and walking the path through life; His is a childlike Faith – ‘love God with all your heart and love your fellow man as the Father and I love you’ - Matt.22:334-40KJV.

    Christ Jesus’ statement: “For my yoke is easy” is the most prescious and liberating part of the Gospel of Truth, Light and Life. It rejects/eliminates the influence of all who insist to place the by them designed, special yoke on the shoulders of the faithful follower of Christ’s Faith.
    The moment I realized that it is now only between my Savior, my heavenly Father, and me, was the most precious, liberating, exhilarating and at the same time humbling experience of my life – I had come home!

    Christ Jesus undergirds my faith’s efforts as I encounter temptations, doubt, and discouragement. It is a struggle to let go of the old nature, but He remains ever faithful never to forsake me.
    But most important of all, it is He who ‘carries/shoulders/holds’ the authority over my spiritual transformation – thank God!
    Christ Jesus encourages all His followers to be of ‘good cheer’, letting us know that He has overcome the world – John 16:32-33KJV.
    It was not striving and debating with the Pharisees and the learned man of his time that won the victory over evil. The Man Christ Jesus went about doing good, being about the Father’s business and staying strong in His Faith and Trust in Him.

    His life of service to others is the example of His ‘gentle and lowly heart’, a heart who carried His yoke with a meek spirit which folded itself willingly, by faith, into the Will of the heavenly Father where it found rest.

  11. My thought for today is:
    The yoke Jesus offers is the Everlasting Covenant which is a legal contract based on Love and an agreement by the LORD to be our Saviour and our daily choice to abide by His Principles of Life.


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