Monday, 13 August 2012
Shoulderings, Part 1 of 3: The Yoke
I thought I would gather together some of the passages in the New Testament which refer to the shouldering of a load. It is not a complete collection, but I thought you might like to see the results. It’s quite long, so I’ve divided it into three instalments.
Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Shoulder My yoke, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden light.”
When we think about it, that is a most astonishing thing for a wandering preacher to say. It pierces to our hearts; what must it have been like for those who heard these words actually spoken by Jesus?
To people in Britain, the idea of the yoke tends to conjure up the solitary yoke of the milkmaid. The older ones among us may remember the large roadside advertisements, showing the Ovaltine milkmaid. I don’t know why it took me so long, but I must have been in my forties when I first began to associate the yoke of Christ with the shared yoke of the oxen.
I have heard it said that the farmer takes an ox that is new to the work and teams it with a more experienced animal. As they go along, the older ox guides and supports his partner. Thus the weaker partner is never left to cope alone; and neither are we.
Another important feature is that the oxen cannot see behind them. Their work is just to go on, ploughing the land. It is the farmer who decides what to plant, sows it, waters it and harvests it. I suppose it never occurs to the oxen that the crops are the fruit of their labours. But perhaps the Lord may grant us a glimpse, one day, of the harvest - whether small or great - that has been gathered from our unseeing efforts.
Picture from mysticalchrist.wordpress.com, via Google Images