Yoked with Jesus
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Mt 11:25-30
25 At that time Jesus said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned.
26 Yes, Father, this was how you wanted it to happen.
27 My Father has given me all things. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.
30 For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.”
Other readings: Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145:1-2, 8-11, 13-14; Romans 8:9, 11-13
Short as it is, this passage contains three separate parts: verses 25-26, 27 and 28-30. No one knows for sure but it is likely that Matthew brought these words of Jesus together in one place to highlight a single idea. He wanted us to see Jesus’s deep relationship with God the Father and with believers.
The first part (verses 25-26) is Jesus’s prayer of thanksgiving to his Father, “Lord of heaven and earth”. The phrase “heaven and earth” is used to encapsulate the whole of creation. So God’s lordship is absolute and extends throughout the whole universe.
This description of God serves Jesus’s purpose very neatly. It comes soon after he has spoken about the sceptics who refuse to believe in him or his ministry (verses 20-24). He says they cannot lift themselves up to heaven. In other words, people can only enter heaven by believing in him.
Belief in God is a gift revealed by God himself. It is not based on our education or ability to learn. Unlearned people can believe in God while people the world considers wise or clever can be completely ignorant about God.
The next verse expresses the unique relationship between God the Father and God the Son, Jesus. Each knows the other completely. The Father has given all things to Jesus. In the first section it was the Father who revealed things. In this section it is Jesus who is revealing the Father. Jesus declares that knowledge of the Father depends entirely on the Son. Jesus chooses who shares this knowledge; it is his gift to give. And no one can pretend to have this knowledge without Jesus’s help to understand or know the Father.
In the third section (verses 28-30) Jesus invites all who “are tired from carrying heavy loads” to come to him because he offers rest. He invites them to put on his yoke.
The yoke represents the teaching a teacher gives to his students. Physical yokes were, of course, used to ensure that two animals worked together under the direction of the master. The image conveys that Jesus is in charge and his disciples need to follow his instructions. But Jesus promises he will lead us gently and humbly and the load will be light.
Which things strike you most from these verses? Have you accepted the “yoke” of following Jesus? Do you find this yoke easy and light? Have you found rest in following Jesus? What examples can you think of that demonstrate the gentleness and humility of Jesus?
Consider the awesome power of God, Lord of heaven and earth. How do you respond to this?
Use the words of Psalm 145 to thank and praise God for his compassion, mercy and faithfulness.
You may have gained insight into the Father through your meditation. But perhaps you can also see an area where you would like to understand more. Ask God to help you understand and give you the grace to draw closer to him.
“But you do not live as your human nature tells you to; instead you live as the Spirit tells you to…” (Romans 8:9).
If we follow Jesus he gives us the Holy Spirit to help us live in obedience to Jesus’s yoke. Meditate further on Matthew 11:27-30. Let the words sink into your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you and guide you.
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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