Take my yoke upon you
Jesus taught in Matthew 11:28-30:
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.
What is a “yoke”?
It is a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.
Jesus said we should come to Him, take His Yoke upon us and learn of Him.
When Jesus says “Give you rest,” for further understanding, look at the Book of Exodus, a conversation between Moses and God, in which Moses asks for instruction from God.
Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.
Moses asked God to teach him “thy ways”, and God replied that His Presence shall go with Moses and He will give thee (Moses) rest.
Jesus tells his disciples to follow him and learn from him.
“Rest for your souls” comes from Jeremiah –
(Jeremiah 6:16) Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
The “old paths” are found in the Law of Moses. God is calling the people back to obedience to the Law.
Therefore, when Jesus promises his listeners to find “rest for your souls” and to “give you rest,” he’s saying that he will show them the “old paths” and the ways of God Himself, His Presence shall go with thee when we choose to live in obedience.
Living in obedience to scripture is where His Yoke is easy and His Burden is light.
It is a place of humility and meekness.
(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) Numbers 12:3
Matthew 12:1-13, illustrates the yoke of Jesus and why it is easy and light:
At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day. But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him; How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests? Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless? But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple. But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day. And when he was departed thence, he went into their synagogue: And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days. Then saith he to the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it forth; and it was restored whole, like as the other.
This passage is often interpreted as saying only that Jesus repealed the Sabbath or wasn’t subject to the Sabbath. But that misses the larger point. Why doesn’t the Sabbath apply? What is the interpretive rule?
Jesus could have pointed out that the accusations made against him were inaccurate interpretations of the Law of Moses. Modern commentators pretty much agree that Jesus and his apostles were not in fact violating the Law in either case. But Jesus doesn’t take this approach – not directly.
Jesus healed the man because it was more important to do good – to heal – to obey the Will of The Father - than to satisfy the Law.
You can’t know the Law until you first know the Lawgiver. The Lawgiver loves his people and made the Law to benefit his people as an act of compassion. Therefore, whenever you interpret the Law in a way that contradicts the Perfect Law of Love, you have misunderstood the Law, because you’ve misunderstood the Lawgiver’s Heart.
Jesus (as part of the Godhead) wrote the Law. He is the author of these rules. Therefore, his mission to teach the gospel and heal the sick cannot contradict the Law. Rather, he is the fulfillment of the Law. He is the Law perfectly interpreted.