“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, 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.” (Matthew11:28-30, NIV)
When I was a kid, I always thought of eggs when I heard this passage. Easy yolks, just the way I liked them, which was a pretty cool thing for Jesus to talk about, though a bit mystifying. Later I was taught that the yoke here meant a y-o-k-e, like oxen wear, keeping them together, and that we are to be yoked with Jesus. Kind of a ‘Jesus take the wheel’ scenario. Now the principle of that teaching is true, but this past week I learned that the word yoke here has a totally different meaning.
In Jesus’ day, the yoke referred to a rabbi’s particular interpretation and application of the scriptures of the Old Testament. His perception. Therefore, taking on the ‘yoke of the rabbi’ meant that his disciples would willingly take on the views of their master.
In that light, let’s look at the verses again. Jesus said his yoke is easy. It’s simple, not all convoluted and difficult. In fact he says later in Matthew that if we don’t become like little children, we won’t enter the kingdom of heaven at all. (Mt. 18:3) His message, his good news, is so simple that we must be like children to comprehend it. What are children like? Humble, straightforward, trusting, playful, filled with wonder….
So what is Jesus’ perception of the Father? What simple message did his life show us? That the Father loves us so much, he willingly let go of his super powers, took on the form, the limitations, the pain of being human, so that he could reconcile us to himself.
Simply, because he loves us. He delights in us. He wants to hang out with us. Adam and Eve had the joy of experiencing exactly that, hanging out with their Father. And when their sin made that no longer possible, our amazing Creator had a plan to put it back to rights. Think about that for a moment. The God of the universe, who keeps the planets spinning and the atoms together….that guy wants to hang out with you!
This is the time of year to ponder that and celebrate it. It’s good news, isn’t it? Really, really good news. But how many of us instead get caught up in the traditions of men….the shopping, the wrapping, the crafts and baking, the programs and traditions that we just have to make happen or Christmas will be ruined?
How many of us are running around like Martha, so busy doing that we miss all the best bits?
Are we sharing the best bits with our kids this holiday season? Remember, until they are old enough to understand the nature of God and develop their own relationship with him, we are their picture of their Father. What sort of picture are we reflecting? Do they know how crazy we are about them? Do they know that we delight in them? Do they know we want to hang out with them?
Do we want to hang out with them? Hmmm.
My encouragement this week, my friends, is to weed out the extraneous stuff and spend time just hanging out with your kiddos. Play some games without jumping up to check the laundry. Snuggle with some cocoa without checking your phone. Tell them about their Father, who loves them infinitely and how he wants to hang out with them, just like you do. Celebrate the simple message of the gospel.
Remember the important stuff. It’s simple.