What is the yoke of Christ?

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The yoke, in ancient times, was an instrument of service designed to make cooperative effort possible for animals of burden, such as cows, bulls, and horses. While the term “yoke” often denotes heavy or harder, the purpose of a yoke was to make the burdens of draft animals lighter and easier to bear.

Also, the “yoke” was a sign of submission, especially to a conqueror in war. A victorious general set a yoke on two spears and made the defeated army march under it in token of submission. To “pass under the yoke” was a common expression designating submission and service (Jeremiah 27:1–11, 17; 28:1–14).

For the rabbis, the yoke referred to the Torah but not in the sense of its being a burden, but rather a discipline, a way of life to which men were to submit (Mishnah Aboth 3. 5, Soncino ed. of the Talmud, pp. 29, 30; Berakoth 2. 2, Soncino ed. of the Talmud, p. 75).

By His invitation, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me” (Matthew 11:29,) Christ invited the believers to adopt His way of life. The “yoke” of Christ is His will expressed in His law of liberty (Isaiah 42:21; Matthew 5:17–22). Jesus was explaining that we are to submit to being trained in His way of life.

Christ continues His message by saying, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). He who truly loves Christ will delight to do His will (Psalms 40:8). The heavy burden of trying to gain salvation by one’s own works is rolled away by the promise of God helping us and giving us power to do so.

Jesus will give us a new nature and the good works will come naturally, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Redemption is thus depicted as a cooperative work between God and man, with God furnishing all the needful strength to triumph.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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