Sharing the yoke pt.2

‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.’ Matthew 11:29 (a)

You may recall in part 1 of this blog that Jesus has given us an invitation to relationship. ‘Come to me..’

This relationship is explained in the preceding few verses. ‘You have entrusted me with all that you are and all that you have. No one fully and intimately knows the Son except the Father. And no one fully and intimately knows the Father except the Son. But the Son is able to unveil the Father to anyone who he chooses.’ (Matthew 11:27)…

This intimate knowing that Jesus shares with the Father, and vice versa, is the kind of relationship Jesus invites us into with the words ‘take my yoke upon you.’

A yoke joined two animals together – usually oxen or horses – to pull farm machinery. The two, yoked together, are able to work as one to pull the load expected of them. The Moravians mentioned in part 1, worked with a fellow slave to pull their load as one. (They took Jesus’ words quite literally!).

So, we can begin to unpack a bit more what Jesus is saying to us here. ‘Yoke yourself to me and we become one.’ This is the language of covenant.

A covenant in the ancient world united two parties – not always of equal proportions – to become one. This relationship offered protection, provision and friendship between tribes and clans. The two parties became ONE. A union of lives. (For an example read the covenant development between Abraham and God in Genesis starting at chapter 12).

So when Jesus says ‘take my yoke upon you,’ or, ‘yoke yourself to me and we become one,’ it is an invitation to covenant relationship. My life becomes Jesus’ life and His life becomes mine. As it says in the Passion Translation … ‘Simply join your life to mine…’ (v.29).

Simply put, Jesus offers to come alongside us, be one with us, and allows His life to refresh and transform our weary, burn out shells, to become a co-labourers and Ambassadors with Christ, sharing His life.

It’s less about doing and more about being. As we learn our new way of being with Jesus, we bear fruit. And quite often we don’t realise we are doing it because it’s not the focus of our attention. Jesus is.

Remember Jesus’ words at the beginning… The Son intimately knows the Father and the Father intimately knows the Son. But the Son can unveil the Father. This way of being with Jesus allows Him to unveil the Father to us and to know Him intimately too.

That’s why Jesus came… To show us the Father. To show us that God is not a religious tyrant demanding heavy and unbearable traditions and rules of us but a Father, who calls us by name, into a covenant of love, perfected ultimately by the blood of His Son.

It’s a covenant of grace… A wide open field of knowing and growing, in the ways of the Father, revealed to us by the Son.

Part 3 coming soon…

God bless you Oliver

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Sharing the yoke part 1.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NLT

There is a story of some Moravian missionaries who went to the Caribbean, sold themselves into slavery, just so that they could preach the gospel.

What was their method? Signs and wonders? Hiring a stadium and preaching to thousands?

No. As slaves they were yoked to fellow slaves like cattle, and as they pulled the plough together, the Moravians would share their faith and disciple the one next to them.

Hardcore isn’t it?!

In the passage above Jesus teaches us 1) to come to Him 2) to take on His yoke and 3) learn from Him.

You may recall in a previous blog I talked about ‘invitation and challenge.’ Here Jesus is addressing the disciples with an invitation.

Come to me… And find rest.

Jesus’s rest is found in relationship. And his invitation to ‘come to me’ is an invitation to relationship. “Be a part of my life. Live with me, watch me, listen to me.”

The only thing required of us to access this rest is faith… “The work that God requires is this: believe in the One he has sent.” (John 6:29). When we take Jesus at His Word and have an assurance that what he said will happen … We find rest. Rest is a release from striving. It’s a release from anxiety, worry, and tension. And it’s only found in relationship with Jesus.

At the time Jesus spoke these words to his disciples, the Pharisees had people bound by the traditions of man. They were groaning under the religious burdens of the law and tradition.

I like what it says in the Message translation of the passage … “Are you tired? Worn out? Are you burnt out on religion? Come to me…”

Jesus’ invitation is not about religion or tradition or law demands but an invitation to relationship. And it’s in Him, the righteous demands of the law are satisfied, so that our focus can simply be Him… not sin issues or law issues but Him. The Author and Perfector of our faith.

When we learn to live where the sole (or soul) focus of our being is Jesus by coming to Him, we learn to live freely – at rest with God and ourselves – no longer sin or law obsessed – but relationally contented in Jesus.

Part 2 coming soon …

Blessings

Oliver

Water is Life

‘Whoever has the water, has life’ – Simon Reeve

The above is a quote from Simon Reeve’s travel series ‘Australia.’ Travelling through the outback, stopping off at some vineyards, he recognised the necessity of water to live, to make wine, to tend to the harvest of grapes… Whilst the grapes thrive in warmth, they also need the all essential water to truly thrive. When the water is not readily available, farming the vineyard becomes a difficult task. Those who can harness the water well, and use it well, can bring life to their Vineyards.

We can kind of relate a bit more to the experience of the Australian Vineyard owners. Having gone through 2-3 months of hot weather, with very little rain, we have felt the pinch of drought in the UK. It’s relative of course, and is in no way similar to the experiences of hot/dry/arid countries.

(Having visited Israel and experienced the intense dry heat you realise why water and rain were talked about so much in the Bible.)

Jesus, addressing the crowds at the Festival of Tabernacles, stood up and announced that whoever believed in Him would have streams of living water coming from within them.

Living water. Water contains oxygen, zinc, calcium, magnesium… All essential minerals for the survival of life. But Jesus wasn’t referring to good old British tap water. He was referring to the essence of life itself: the Holy Spirit.

On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says…”
(John 7:37‭-‬39 MSG)

Those who believe in Jesus would contain wells of the life-giving Holy Spirit. This well is for the life of those who contain it but also for those whom they come into contact.

If you are in Jesus today, you contain life-giving springs that are for the blessing of the nations. You contain the very essence of life itself… The Holy Spirit.

Where are the vineyards you are tending to at this present time? Are you channelling the water well?

Life without the Spirit is dry, arid, barren and fruitless.

He/she who has the water (of the Spirit) has life…

God bless you

Oliver