1a: The Yoke of Christ

Yoke of Oxen

Use with Video 1 / ​Learning to Depend on King Jesus 

Read: Matthew 11:25-30
25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;


26 Yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.
27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me,
30 For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Let’s study this passage of scripture.

Aim: In this passage, King Jesus gives an invitation to follow him as a disciples and he gives us a picture of what this relationship looks like.

Background Information: In this passage, Jesus uses the picture of oxen who are “yoked” behind a plow or wagon. The yoke was a wooden frame joining two animals (usually oxen) for pulling heavy loads. This was a metaphor for one person’s subjection to another person. This was also a common metaphor in the Old Testament for the law of God’s love. However, the teachers of the law, twisted God’s law into something other than love and then turned into a crushing burden (see John 23:4) where God’s people were expected to keep these laws in their own strength. Jesus’ yoke of discipleship, on the other hand, gives us a different picture of God’s law of love and our relationship to the law of love (see 1 John 5:3).

Yoke and Plow
The plough is drawn by a yoke of oxen. 11th or 12th Dynasty, circa 2025-1850 BE. From Egypt, precise provenance of excavation is unknown. (The British Museum, London).

Questions:

1) The word “Disciple”​ literally means “Learner”. This is emphasized when King Jesus says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” In that sentence, Jesus says that his disciples (or “learners”) are called to take “his yoke” on themselves.

So, a disciple of Jesus is called to “learn” in their relationship with Him. What does this tell us about those who follow King Jesus? Why is it difficult to be a “learner?”

2) What does it tell us about King Jesus that he begins this passage with prayer? What kind of prayer is it? (v. 25)

3) From whom does God the Father hide the identity and work of King Jesus? To whom does God the Father reveal Jesus to be Savior and King? (v. 25)

4) Who chooses the disciples of King Jesus (v. 27)? Who gave Jesus this authority (v. 26).

5) In his invitation to his people, Jesus utilizes an agrarian “farming” comparison. The comparison centers on a yoke. In this picture, there would be a field or garden, a man holding a plow, a plow tied to a yoke, and two oxen tied into the yoke, pulling the plow. In this analogy, King Jesus alludes to two pictures. Let’s discern the two pictures so that we can compare them.

a) How does King Jesus describe those who come to learn of Him (v. 28)? What does he promise to give them?

b) What does King Jesus invite them to do? Whose yoke does he invite them into? What is the significance of the phrase “learn from me(v. 29)?”

c) How does King Jesus describe himself in this relationship? How does he describe His yoke (v.30)?

Consider: In keeping with the entire passage, is King Jesus the man behind the plow or is he an ox, tied inside the yoke, with another ox?

This is an extremely important picture in understanding discipleship. Consider this – God the Father is the man behind the plow. The plow and the garden are the Law of Love. There are two oxen in the yoke – one is King Jesus and the other is his disciple. The yoke is symbolic of the Cross of Christ, which puts Jesus into Union with His people. Before they enter the yoke, the people of Christ are tired and weary because they have been laboring and carrying the Law of Love by themselves, with no help from those who taught and distorted the Law of Love (generally referred to as “Pharisees” – pronounced: fare-rah-sees).

King Jesus is not a wild and arrogant ox. He is a servant – meek, gentle, and lowly. Unlike the evil teachers of the law – Jesus serves, loves, teaches, and carries those who are yoked together with him.  Therefore, in Union with Christ, the yoke that carries the Law of Love is easy and light for His disciples.

For further study:  Matthew 23:1-4
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”

Bible - King Jesus

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