September 25, 2020

Partnered with Jesus

Matthew 11:28-30

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me . . . and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

—  Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus’ invitation to be yoked with him may seem puzzling. A yoke pairs two oxen side by side so that they can pull together to get hard work done. That raises a couple of questions: (1) How can we possibly fit into a yoke designed to fit Jesus? and (2) What does this work have to do with “rest,” being “easy,” and a “burden [that] is light?” What kind of invitation calls people who are “weary and burdened” and offers them a yoke that puts them to work?

Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of this passage in The Message may help: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

The yoke fits easily on us, because it fits Jesus perfectly, and he’s shaping us to become like him. Inside the “unforced rhythms of grace,” even the line between work and rest is blurred.

Are you weary? Take on the partner-yoke and let the one who is “gentle and humble in heart” be your yoke-teacher.

Dear Jesus, yes, I am weary. Place your grace-shaped yoke on me, that I may find rest in working alongside you. Amen.

About the author — Syd Hielema

Syd Hielema serves the Christian Reformed Church in North America as director of a ministry project called Connections II. He has also served with Faith Formation Ministries, as a professor of theology and youth ministry at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa, and as a chaplain and professor at Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ontario. Syd has been married to Evelyn for 43 years, and they enjoy bird watching near their home in Ancaster.

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