My Yoke is Easy
The book of Matthew records Jesus' teaching about His rest and how to find it:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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)
When Jesus spoke those words, He illustrated what He meant by drawing on the history and culture of His day and His listeners knew exactly what He meant.
Jeff Benner has extensively researched ancient Hebrew's origins and meanings and documented his findings in original books and translations available on his web site. He found that when a Hebrew farmer wanted to break in an ox to the plow, he yoked the new, young ox with an older, experienced one. Jesus used such a farming example familiar to the Hebrews to declare an eternal truth about Himself!
The yoke was made of wood, fashioned with double hitches, one for each animal. Each ox pulled his fair share of the load, so to speak. They learned to work together to make the job easier.
First, the younger ox had to get used to the weight and feel of the yoke itself. Then it had to learn how to respond to the commands of the farmer. And, he probably had to get used to the personality of the ox he was hitched with. Once those things became familiar to him, the ox could work well with his partner and the job was half as difficult as doing it alone.
Jesus well knew that people trying to serve God on their own would grow tired and bowed beneath the weight of that yoke. Instead of carrying the yoke alone, Jesus said, "I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you..."
Jesus has a double yoke; it has room for Himself and you. He says to let His yoke rest on your shoulders. He will support it, too. Get used to the fact that you aren't alone in your walk to heaven. He is beside you every step that you take.
Then He instructs, "Learn from Me." Jesus is God. He said of Himself that we see God when we look at Jesus. We learn how to walk WITH Him by learning from Him what to do, how to do it and when to do it.
But, a young ox is a young steer: full of energy, untamed, wild and independent. Jesus said of Himself, "for I am gentle and humble in heart..." Wow! How do you tame a steer? By hitching him with a mature, older ox who has learned how to work under the yoke. Jesus is the example: gentleness and humility. Quite the opposite of untamed and independent! But as we submit to His yoke and determine to walk with Him and work according to the actions of our gentle and humble Savior, we take on His character, too. Just as the mature ox heeded the commands of the farmer, so the younger ox learned what the commands meant and how to comply. And when he did, everything went well, for the three worked together in perfect harmony. That is called 'rest.'
Rest does not mean there's a lack of work or something happening. Instead, rest is freedom from turmoil, conflict of wills, clash of temperaments. It is a working together in agreement, accord, oneness of purpose. It is that rest Jesus promises to anyone who will get under His yoke and walk with Him where He is working.