Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11: 28-30)
First, the Lord says, “Take My yoke upon you” (Matt 11: 29). To take His yoke upon us is to enlist under His banner, to make a public profession of His Gospel, to surrender to His lordship. “Learn of Me.” To learn of Him is to take our place at His feet as little children to be instructed by Him. It is to submit ourselves wholly to His will, to obey His precepts, and to pattern our lives after His example. Those are the conditions which must be fulfilled by us if we are to obtain rest unto our souls.
Then, second, He assures us, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” That is the inducement to comply with His terms. By those words, each professing Christian reader should honestly and seriously examine himself. They afford a sure criterion by which we may test ourselves and ascertain whether or not we have really taken His yoke upon us.
Each one may identify himself by his answers to these questions: Am I finding the yoke I am wearing easy or difficult? Is the burden I am carrying light or heavy? As John Newton declared, “This verse alone, if seriously attended to, might convince multitudes that, though they bear the name of Christians and are found among the Lord’s worshipping people, they are as yet entire strangers to the religion of the Gospel. Can it be supposed that our Lord would give a false character of His yoke? If not, how can any dream that they are His followers while they account a life of communion with God and entire devotedness to His service, to be dull and burdensome? Those, however, who have made the happy trial, find it to be such a burden as wings are to a bird. Far from complaining of it, they are convinced that there is no real pleasure attainable in any other way.”
Christ’s commandments are not, in themselves, “grievous” (I Jn 5: 3), but are “holy, and just, and good” (Rom 7: 12). They are given in love, and are to be fulfilled by love. “In keeping of them there is great reward” (Ps 19: 11). For the keeping of them, full assistance is obtainable from Him if we do but seek the same. It is the way of transgressors that is “hard” (Prov 13:15), but strong consolation is to be found in the way of Christian duty, and in Christ’s presence there is fullness of joy. Wisdom’s ways “are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (Prov 3: 17). It must be so, for every part is lighted from above, the whole path is strewn with precious promises, each step is heavenward. The only happiness worth seeking is to be found therein. Yes, it must be so, for there is comfort and contentment in walking with God.
If, then, the way along which the reader is journeying is unpleasant, he is a stranger to Wisdom’s ways and is a fool. Those ways are pleasant only to Wisdom’s children. The yoke of Christ is irksome and distasteful to the unregenerate, for it makes directly against the motions of the carnal nature. The service of Christ is veritable drudgery to those who are in love with the world and who find their delight in gratifying the lusts of the flesh. To the self-willed and self-seeking, the commandments of the Lord cannot but be offensive — for they require the denying of self and the pursuit and cultivation of personal holiness.
But to one whose heart has been captivated by Christ, to be under His yoke is delectable. If he comes to Him daily to be renewed in the inner man, yields himself afresh to His rule, sits at His feet to be taught of Him the loveliness of meekness and lowliness, enjoys communion with Him, then, His will is “good, and acceptable” (Rom 12: 2) to him.
“And my burden is light” (Matt 11: 30). It is so to those who “learned Christ” (Eph 4: 20). No burden is heavy, if it is shouldered by love. “Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her” (Gen 29: 20)! Is it a burden for a father to work and provide for his wife and children? Not if he has real affection for them. Is it a burden for a fond mother to sit through the night tending her little one when it is sick? So far from it, she refuses to entrust the task unto another. Where there is a genuine desire to please Christ, the wheels of Christian duty run smoothly.
Wisdom’s children find their burden light, because they have the assurance that their efforts are acceptable to Christ — not for any excellence in their performances, but because they have been done from a desire to glorify Him. What is heavy to flesh and blood, is light to faith and grace, and because it has to be borne but for a moment (II Cor 4: 17). The burden is light just in proportion as we lay aside every weight (Heb 12: 1), and because He gives strength to bear it.
None can adequately describe the radical contrast there is between the bondage and misery of the service of sin — and the liberty and peace of practical holiness. But anyone who has personally experienced both, need have no difficulty in determining whether he is out of Christ — or yoked to Him. If you have a peace which passes understanding and a joy which the world knows nothing of — you are a godly person. If despite both inward and outward opposition, you find obedience to Christ desirable and agreeable — then, His Spirit must indwell you, and the more you grow in grace, the easier His yoke and the lighter His burden.
(Adapted from Gracegems website)