Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Take My Yoke

Do you not know or have you not heard? The LORD is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary, and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting; for the weak he makes vigor abound. Isaiah 40:28-29

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Bless The Lord (Schwartz Stephen from Godspell)
Oh bless the Lord my soul
His praise to thee proclaimed
And all that is within me join
To bless His holy name

These verses are peculiar to Matthew and are similar to the Book of Sirach where we are invited to learn wisdom and submit to her yoke (Sir 51:23, 26).  While the Lord wants to make our lives easier, those who are “burdened” in his day are feeling the pressure from the demands of Jewish law as expounded by and handed down from the scribes and Pharisees. In place of the yoke of the law (complicated by misguided scribal interpretation), Jesus invites the burdened to take the yoke of obedience to his Word, under which they will find Psalm 23 like rest beside still waters. Or as Jeremiah promised:

Thus says the LORD: Stand by the earliest roads, ask the pathways of old, “Which is the way to good?” and walk it; thus you will find rest for yourselves. But they said, “We will not walk it.” (Jeremiah 6:16)

Jesus builds upon the promises of the prophet Isaiah in the Hebrew Bible in
order to fulfill the promises of old. But he delivers promises with a twist. He claims that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  However, did you ever notice the similarities between a yoke designed to use farm animals for heavy work and the cross-beam of the cross?

Jesus trades in the yoke of the Pharisees for the yoke of the cross.  The yoke’s on us, now.

The Duluth Benedictines posted a quote yesterday on social media:  "Advent is a winter training camp for those who desire peace. Make our hearts a place where the Prince of Peace might be born."  Knowing what we know about the call Jesus has for each of us, how are you preparing to take up his yoke and carry peace into the world?

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