Sharing His Yoke
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30, NRSV
I used to read this passage from Matthew and imagine a yoke being passed from Jesus to me, or from Jesus to another weary disciple carrying heavy burdens, that would lighten the load. Yet the thing about a yoke is that it connects two together. Imagine a yoke of oxen pulling a heavy cart. The yoke connects the two oxen together so that they can share the burden between them.
When I was a child, the neighborhood kids would get together and play a game called “Red Rover.” The group would divide up into two sides standing across from each other. Each side would form a line clasping hands. Then one side would chant, "Red Rover, Red Rover, send 'someone’s name' right over." That person would run as fast as he/she could and try to break through the line by running between people. Yet if you stood with your arms across one another’s shoulders, instead of holding hands, it made it almost impossible to break through. By forming a yoke with arms across shoulders, it made each pair stronger and the force of the runner, the burden, was easier to bear.
Now when I read this passage from Matthew’s Gospel, I imagine Jesus, with an arm around my shoulder, helping me to carry the burdens that He has given me to bear. This is different from the burdens others–or we ourselves–have taken on that weigh us down: those ones He calls us to hand over to Him. And Jesus does not leave us to struggle alone, but walks beside us, sharing the weight so we can find rest for our souls.