Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)
There is not better commentary for this verse than the Message:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
Jesus effectively says what Eugene Peterson is suggesting in the above: “I will teach you to live freely and lightly.”
The introspective question from this is obvious: what expectation have you put on yourself that you need to take off? Jesus makes one of the most remarkable statements ever made right here. He says that you should put His yoke on you because it’s lighter.
With His yoke on you’ll find rest! Why? Because He does the heavy pulling. Incredibly, if you put yourself under His yoke your burdens will be lifted. It’s one of the beautiful paradoxes we live in.
Let’s go one step further. A few years ago I studied the fruit of the Spirit, “kindness.” I learned the Greek word is “chrestos,” which actually means “useful [without harshness].” I was shocked. I had previous equated kindness to niceness, and now I realized that kindness involved a lot more than smiling at people and opening the door for them. To be kind, you have to be useful.
A Lesson in Greek
Imagine my surprise, then, when I stumbled upon Matthew 11:30’s Greek word for “easy.” You guessed it: chrestos. Jesus tells us that His yoke is USEFUL to us. Here is what these verses look like without a lot more Greek interspersed:
Come to me, all who kopiao (grow weary from exhausting labor until they are depleted)
and are phortizo (literally: weighed down),
and I will give you anapauo (the rest after a task or process is completed).
Take my zugos (yoke, balance, two scales, or anything that unites two things to work together) upon you,
for I am praos (meek – power under control)
and tapeinos (humble / low – being God-reliant rather than self-reliant);
and you will heurisko (discover, especially after searching) anapausis (the same rest as above)
for your psuche (where we get English psyche from, which means self or soul; meaning in Greek was breath of life or seat of affections and will).
For my zugos is chrestos (KIND – well-fitted, useful, benevolent, beneficial, suitable – usefully kind)
and my phortion (a burden that must be carried by an individual and is not transferrable, lit: the load or cargo of a ship)
is elaphros (not burdensome, easy to bear, lit: least / little).
It might not be restful to read that, but it sure is restful to live in it! Many people came to OPEN Connect this year tired, feeling burnt out and on their last leg, wondering if they should hang up the towel. I believe we saw Jesus show up and put His easy yoke over so many of us as we left refreshed and ready to get back in the game.
My prayer is that we meditate on these verses using the important Greek words, and find the useful yoke of Jesus once again.
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.