INI + AMEN.
How are you yoked? What burdens you? What weighs you down? What presses upon you? We’ve all got something, don’t we? It could be family troubles. Families, created by God to be places of love, are often so very burdensome. Estrangement. Abuses. Those in them that are no longer Christians. Maybe it’s friends. No friends, bad friends. Could be work? No work. Not employed. Under employed. Over worked. Money troubles? Health problems for you or others. And then some of these or all of them can come at you at the same time.
But the Lord saves us from all of this, well, He saves us in spite of this. “In the world you will have trouble,” says Jesus. We certainly have lots of that. “But take heart, I have overcome the world.” It can’t get you down….well…it can, but it won’t keep you down—not forever. You will rise on the last day. Then you will be free from all your yokes. Then and for all eternity “there will be no more death nor mourning nor sighing nor pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” This is what the Lord promises to His people because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and what joy we can have in that promise!
(3. We are truly yoked.)
After being gone a week with the Senior Youth at Crucified 2014 in Gainesville, Florida, and a 15 hour drive back, it’d be nice to just say, “Amen,” but Jesus is talking about about a yet another type of yoke all together. It’s one that’s more profound. You’re all like: “Pastor, I’ve got enough with the other yokes.” But there is another yoke. It’s the trifold yoke of sin, death, and the devil, and repent of wanting to get past this. We like to think we have this yoke under control, but we don’t really have these under control like we think we do. We can’t really get out from under this yoke. Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you” because we’re under another yoke as the psalmist says in Psalm 73:22, “I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast of burden before you.”
We’re yoked with sin. We’re burdened and yoked with our past. The things that we’ve done. There’s always one thing that you’ve done or some hidden details about something that is know that no one else knows about—God knows. Then we’re yoked by what we might do in the future. This is like St. Paul in Romans 7. The thing that we do and we’ve recommitted ourselves to stop over and over and over again. Or maybe we don’t care that we’re gossips, busybodies, drunks, road-ragers, obsessed with sex, unforgiving, unloving, unmerciful, or whatever else. And we think we aren’t yoked with sin?!? Repent!
We’re yoked with death. We can’t escape it. Sooner or later we’re all going to die. We’ve all had someone close to us die: friends, family, maybe even schoolmates. We get sick! That’s a sign that you will end up as dust and ashes buried in the ground. Death has us by the neck—we’re yoked. The devil might have us too. For when we sin, we aren’t yoked by God. The devil has taken the reins. The Spirit doesn’t dwell with us and in us when we sin. Repent!
We’ve been yoked this way since infancy. This is exactly where Jesus backs us up to. The Father reveals things to “little children” or really “babes”, “babies”, “infants.” They’re revealed to them because they too are yoked with that threefold yoke of sin, death, and the devil. They are. We shouldn’t fool ourselves. With our eyes we see that they are cute, cuddly, and precious, but infants can die. You only die if you have sin. And infants are selfish—they only worry about their own needs and no one else’s. Even in them the eternal command to “love your neighbor as yourself” stands unfulfilled and broken. As it does in us all even to this day. No one is exempted from God’s Law and “all”—regardless of age—“have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That means they’ve broken His Law.
(2. Jesus is yoked in our place.)
We shouldn’t scoff at this truth. “God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” If there is no sin at conception, then Jesus didn’t need to be conceived. If there is no sin in newborns or infants, Jesus didn’t need to be that either. If sin began at some older age of accountability, then the Lord Jesus would’ve appeared at that age. People are accountable to God and His Law from the beginning of Life. But Jesus was sent in the fulness of time from the Father. He was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary. From the day the angel Gabriel visited Mary, when He was conceived, the Son had received our yoke from the Father. He bore our sins (our in utero ones, our infant ones, our toddler ones, our teenage ones, and our adult ones).
He bore our death. He was yoked with the cross, being yoked also with our death, and His death breaks the yoke and bands of death forever, and His resurrection dissolves them. He was never yoked with the devil like us, but with His life, ministry, death, and resurrection Jesus was yoking the devil, chaining Him, keeping Him in subjection.
When Jesus does all of this, He reveals the Father. “These things” from verse 25 are Jesus’ saving acts: His healing and bearing diseases, His casting out demons, His bearing sins, His coming to die and rise for sinners. When Jesus does these things, being yoked with our yokes and yoking the devil, this reveals the Father, and the Father also reveals them by the Spirit, that is, He gives faith which trusts that these things have been done for you.
(1. Jesus gives us a new yoke—His yoke of salvation.)
It’s all fine and good what Jesus did, but unless Jesus, in the here and now, in my own life, breaks the unholy yokes and gives me another yoke, I’m doomed. So Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you.” This isn’t a call for us to do something. Does a farmer hand the yoke to his beast of burden to put on? Wouldn’t that be a funny sight! No, the Lord Jesus gives it. He puts it on us. The beast receives the yoke from his master, and so we receive the yoke from Jesus. He puts it on us.
Jesus doesn’t yoke the wise and intelligent. Jesus only yokes those who’ve received revelation from the Father. Those who think that they can get their sins under control or that they have them under control, are worldly-wise fools. Those who would turn faith into learning facts, knowing things, and doing things, certainly seem intelligent, but they aren’t. They too are fools. And those who would discount the clear words of Jesus are in danger of being ridden by someone other than Jesus.
Jesus yokes infants, first of all. Young children receive Jesus’ yoke. If what Jesus has done has been revealed to them, they receive Jesus’ yoke. That receiving of the yoke, or trusting in the Yoke-giver, is called faith. Faith is nothing other than trust. When do they receive such trust, such faith? They receive it when they are yoked and clothed with Christ’s own righteousness in the waters of Holy Baptism. A newborn who is baptized, even in emergencies minutes after birth, is so yoked that they have trust and faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection. They’ve received Jesus’ light and easy yoke. They have the same faith in Jesus that we do…well, actually…we have the same faith in Jesus they do. If anyone thinks or says otherwise, they’re calling Jesus a liar. How wise or smart is that?
You and I are also yoked by Jesus. He breaks our old yokes, and gives us His yoke of salvation. We’re baptized just like infants. What joy it is when people even in their old age have such childlike faith that they can rest easy and sleep the moment they’ve received Jesus’ gifts. So also we, with childlike, infant-like, newborn-like, baptized-child-of-God faith receive Jesus’s yoke from His yoked-ones, His pastors.
It’s been a year or so since I was yoked by Jesus, and recently I’ve had the opportunity to see two ordinations: my brother-in-law’s a couple weeks ago and Pastor Rosse’s last week down at Christ the King in Nachitoches. I was reminded that, when a Pastor wears his stole for the first time, he doesn’t put it on himself. It’s placed on him by another yoked-one who puts it there in Jesus’ stead. The new pastor might even kiss it to show he receives it willingly and joyfully. Jesus’ yoked-ones break off your old yokes and give you Jesus’ salvation yoke by forgiving your sins, preaching Him to you, and teaching you about what He’s done for you. They give you Jesus’ yoke. They don’t say, like Jesus, take and receive this yoke, but they say, “Take, eat the true body of Christ given for you; take, drink the true blood of Christ shed for you.”
Whether we are baptized, preached to, forgiven, receiving His body and blood, or even that we “learn from Him”, it doesn’t matter. Jesus is being revealed and revealing the Father to and for you, and you are receiving His yoke of salvation from His yoked ones.
ALTHOUGH WE ARE BORN WITH AN ALTOGETHER UNHOLY THREEFOLD YOKE, JESUS GIVES US HIS EASY AND LIGHT YOKE OF SALVATION.
INI + AMEN.