My Yoke Is Easy, My Burden is Light - Mat. 11:30

A Powerful Phrase

This phrase taken from the end of the 11^th^ Chapter of Matthew is a great promise to all who are “weary and heavy-laden” (Mat. 11:28, NASU). This phrase, however, has been greatly misunderstood and taken out of context by many Bible readers. Some have taken this phrase to imply that the Christian life will be “light” and free from labor – this is not the intention of Jesus’ words.

An Important Consideration

To promise a “perfect” life in Christ is to completely misunderstand the Christian life and to ignore many of Christ’s own warnings (cf. John 15:18; Mat. 10:16ff; et al.) To understand Jesus’ words more clearly, it is first important to remember His audience.

The Jewish burden

In the 11th Chapter of Matthew (as is true throughout His whole ministry) Jesus is addressing a group of Jews. These Jews lived under the Law of Moses as their source of guidance in spiritual matters and the pleasing of God. This Law contained within it over 600 separate commands, directions, admonitions, and warnings. On top of the Law of Moses (which was inspired), one has to consider the literally hundreds of other traditions which the Pharisees sought to bind upon the public (which were not inspired). In truth, a Jew seeking to be right with His God had many specific commands and requirements to remember and to seek and follow. It is not the purpose of this lesson to describe in detail the relationship of the Law to Jesus’ sacrifice and other important points, so it is sufficient to explain that the Jew had quite a burden to bear spiritually.

The greatest burden

Next, it is also important to remember man’s greatest burden. The Law of Moses was given in order to teach man concerning sin, never to remove sin (cf. Rom. 2:12). The reality was that despite man’s best effort to keep all God commanded in the Law, it was impossible. All men and women carry the great burden of sin – a burden which cannot be lifted by our own power.

Something Truly Easy

So enters Jesus Christ who promises an “easy yoke” and a “light burden.” What is Jesus promising? Freedom from the burden of sin and, for the Jew, freedom from the burden of the Law. Does this mean that the Christian is without law or burden? Note that the burden is “light” not nonexistent, the yoke is “easy” not “removed.” When the burden of sin is removed from one’s life, the command of Christ to love God and love one’s neighbor should seem easy in comparison. The command to worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) should be easy in comparison. The truth is there is nothing this life can burden us with which has the weight of the sin we have been freed from. So take joy – His yoke is indeed easy, His burden light. Have you found it to be so?

More Reading
Older// A Great New Day
comments powered by Disqus