Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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. Matt.11:28-30
Easy? Light? Does that describe your walk with God? A yoke is pretty heavy, last time I checked. It constrains movement. It is uncomfortable. What about the animals? They call them Beasts of Burden! Rest? Not much of what Jesus speaks outwardly is easily reconcilable. Still, for those listening to the words of Jesus they would have understood Jesus seemingly paradoxical statement in a different context. What is the yoke that Jesus is speaking of? In Acts 15, Peter addresses a group of Pharisees who, in true Pharisaic form, respond to the teachings of Grace by pointing Peter back to the Law: The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses (v. 5). Peter responds by saying,
God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us… Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are. Acts 15:8-11
Paul elaborates . . .
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace (Gal. 5:1-4).
In light of these two passages we have a better context for interpreting Jesus saying: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened (by the law), and I will give you rest. Take my yoke (of grace) and learn from (or imitate) me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (freedom and/or fulfillment) for your souls. So what about the Law? How much of it is really necessary? Was the Law simply a bad idea to start with given Peters conviction that neither he, the Jews or their ancestors could bear it? In this context No! Jesus himself is very clear that he did not come to abolish the law (Matt. 5:17), but to fulfill it! Still, in its fulfillment through Christ, we must discern and filter through each Old Testament Law to see how its application may have changed (ie, literal sacrifices, dietary laws, circumcision, ritual cleansing, etc) through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That’s 613 Laws from the Old Testament. Honestly, I feel heavy just thinking about it! Here’s a radical solution:
Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. Matt. 22:37-40
Love keeps us in the Law ALL of it! Jesus did not come to get rid of the Law because it was a flawed concept, but to give us the freedom to walk in it because it is good! Without Grace and a radical solution to all the Law and the Prophets the yoke would be too heavy… and I would be a Beast of Burden! But there’s more. Something else happens when in our response to the Grace of God we respond back to Him and others in Love: the byproduct is that we become more like Jesus! True grace is not the license to practice lawlessness; it is the entry point for change! Grace is the empowerment to Love God and to live like Jesus, and the Law can show us how. Rest? Rest is found in the continual revelation and experience of becoming like Christ! It is the intersection of Gods Grace and Obedience to His commands. Cultivating a love for Gods commands is paramount in our walk with Christ. Its fruit is Obedience to His word, and it is an expression of having Gods heart. Do not let the enemy deceive you. Do not abandon the Law in favor of Grace, but let Grace be a catalyst for loving the Law!
Despite his personal sin and failings with his children, King David was a man after Gods own heart (Acts 13:22) because he loved the law of the Lord. Ps. 19:7-10
Psalm 19:7-10 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.