by David Folker
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‘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’ (Matthew 11:29).
At first glance, this verse from Jesus appears to be a direct invitation to join him in some form of menial labour. Surely, that’s not an effective way to win followers. I’m almost certain that most social reformists wouldn’t expect too many people to get on board if they went about saying, ‘Here’s my new way of doing things! Be prepared to be burdened!’ It’s easy for us to misunderstand by reading this verse from the lens of our own culture. But people in Jesus’ time knew what he was talking about.
In those days, much of the farming fell upon the sturdy shoulders of the oxen. Oxen usually worked in teams; an older beast and the younger. The younger was yoked to the stronger animal to teach it the ropes. The older oxen bore the burden. The younger followed.
Jesus wants to share your load. He wants to take it on board. He wants to ease your burden, whatever it might be in the current climate. Nothing is too great. He can handle it.
After all, the same strong shoulders bore the weight of the cross. For you.
Jesus, thank you that you are willing to take on my burdens. I’m ready to hand them over to you. Amen.