Taking the Yoke of Jesus

By Jim Allen

What does it mean to make Jesus Lord of your life?

You've heard it said a person who is born-again is given a new heart with new desires. It is true. We are new creations in Christ with new longings. We love God and we love people (Luke 10:27). But added to the longings is the call to walk with the Son of God (Matthew 16:24). What does the calling require?

A book written by Neil T Anderson brings forward this virtuous calling in the form of an easy to grasp analogy. In his book, entitled Renewing Your Mind, Anderson unfurls a thought rarely mentioned anymore. He writes:
God could have chosen to bypass the Church, but He has chosen to work through us. It is His intention that we walk together, and Jesus has provided the perfect example of how that works.

Jesus was a carpenter during His youth, and His handiwork later became useful metaphors for His ministry. Carpenters didn't frame houses in those days; they fashioned doors and yokes out of wood. A yoke is a heavy wooden beam that fits over the shoulders of two oxen. The yoke can only work if two oxen are in it and are pulling together.

For the purpose of training, a young ox is yoked to an older ox that has "learned obedience from what he suffered" (Hebrews 5: 8). The young ox will be tempted to stray off to the left or to the right, but the old ox stays on the right path. The young ox may think the pace is too slow and try running ahead, but all he gets is a sore neck. Slowly, the young ox begins to realize the old ox knows how to walk. The pace is right and the course is true, so he decides to learn from him. [1]
This is an important analogy. It shows what Jesus meant when He said, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).

Jesus did the heavy pull at Calvary (John 10:28). The Messiah's yoke was hard and he suffered greatly to obey the Father's will (Matthew 26:39). It was a heavy burden; it was a burden that only the Messiah could bear up (John 18:37). Our calling is to share the yoke with the Lord Jesus Christ. When we do, the yoke will be easy and light because the course will be true and right (John 6:29).

Anderson continues by saying:
What would we learn from Jesus if we walked with Him? ...Matthew 11:28-30 is the only place in the Bible where Jesus describes Himself, and He says, "I am gentle and humble in heart" (verse 29). With all the harshness and vulgarity surrounding us in this fallen world, we have been invited to walk with the gentle Jesus. Imagine that! [2]
So, back to the question: What does it mean to make Jesus Lord of your life? Think about it. The older ox is lord of the yoke and resisting (by trying to go our way) will only produce a sore neck (Acts 26:14). The older ox moves forward; any pain we feel will be from our unwillingness to follow. Because it's our will against His will, we eventually learn obedience.

When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the Father spoke from heaven: "This is my beloved Son, hear Him" (Luke 9:35). The message to you and me from the Father is simple: Obey My Son and learn to do His will.

What does being yoked to Jesus mean? The Apostle Paul knew. He said as much when he wrote, "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me..." (Galatians 2:20).

Paul was yoked to Christ on the cross as one dead to the world — buried, but then resurrected to give himself to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). The apostle was joined to Christ by the yoke of faith, as every true believer eventually learns. Paul no longer sought his will. He was walking steady on the path of righteousness set before him, yoked by faith in the One who loved him and knew the way (John 10:27).

So then, Jesus becomes Lord of our life when He becomes our life (Philippians 1:21). We make it personal. He makes it permanent. To this end we are called. To this end we are yoked to the One whose burden is most assuredly easy and light (Matthew 11:29-30).

1. Anderson, Neil T.; Renewing Your Mind (Victory Series Book No. 4): Become More Like Christ; Baker Publishing Group; Kindle Edition; Kindle Locations 563-573.

2. Ibid.; Kindle Locations 576-581.

Image Credit: 2211438; untitled; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Jesus-Christ

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Published 3-6-17