The Easy Way or the Hard Way?

Matthew 11:29 – “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Jesus expressed thanks to the Father for sharing his wisdom with “babes” rather than the “wise and prudent” (11:25-26).  The contrast, which is strange to our ears, presented Jesus’ preference for humility and trust over pride and self-reliance.  Simply, Jesus prized child-like faith in his people.  What is child-like faith?  It is a faith that is humble and reliant.  Babies are unable to care for themselves, thus they are dependent.  Babies are uneducated, thus they are reliant upon others to know what is best in order to have their needs met.  Those who are professing to be wise and knowledgeable are too proud to receive God’s wisdom.  God illuminates the hearts and minds of those who are “poor in spirit” (5:3) and recognize their neediness for God’s knowledge.  Jesus encountered people who were too childish to seriously examine the ways (11:16-19) and works (20-24) of God.  Therefore, those people would not obtain the blessedness that child-like faith provides: rest.  Those unbelievers would continue to experience the hardship of wearisome toil due to the burden of sin and its consequences.  By joining (yoking) with Jesus, followers become partakers of divine wisdom and learn of his ways, works, and will.  Believers trade in their heavy burdens for a lighter load that is no burden at all.  Jesus his gentle and humble (meek and lowly), and life becomes easy by contrast.

Farmers will use a yoke to join two animals, such as oxen or horses, in order to fully utilize their strengths to cultivate the land.  When placed in the yoke, the two animals will struggle for dominance.  They push, pull, strive, and maneuver until the weary and weaker one submits to the stronger one.  The weary one becomes the follower and the dominant one takes the lead.  Together they contribute their strength to accomplish their task.  Their struggle is over.  They know their roles.  They work together.  They contribute their strength.  The job is easier.  The work gets done. The farmer is pleased.

Now, consider that process with yourself and Jesus.  He encouraged us to follow him in humble, reliant faith.  He calls us to follow as he leads.  There is often a struggle for dominance as we often think we know better or can do better without his leadership.  Our struggle makes us weary, and we submit to him.  The struggled ends, and we see our role clearly as the follower and yield our strength to Jesus.  We enter the fields to do the work of cultivating the world and sowing the seeds of the gospel.  The Father is pleased.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you.”  Once again, we see that Jesus presents us with a choice.  We can take it or leave it.  To leave it is to endure the hard toil of life without the supernatural strength of Jesus.  To take it is to become a learner and follower of Jesus throughout this life.

So you must choose: do you want to do this life the easy way or the hard way?  The choice should be obvious.  There were people in Jesus’ time that took the hard way because they were too foolish to believe his works or to examine his ways.  As a result, they remained burdened by a hard life.  Stop striving against Jesus.  Open your heart to him.  Yield your strength and submit to him.  You will enjoy life the easy way if you can just surrender your pride!  Exercise child-like faith and come to Jesus in dependence and reliance.  He is your only hope to find rest for your soul!


Daily Reading: Matthew 11:25-30
Bible Reading Challenge: 10 Days on Discipleship

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Listen to the “Set Free to Serve” Sermon Podcast
Read more devotionals at Learning the Way of Wisdom

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