Jesus not only invites us to come to Him, but He also tells us to “take His yoke upon us so that we may learn of Him.” (Matthew 11:29)
Our first act of becoming a complete disciple of Jesus Christ is to “deny ourselves and take up His cross.” (Mark 8:34) This means to so surrender our will to the Lord Jesus that we obey Him and follow Him in everything. It means to say no to ourselves. Saying no to our own desires, ambitions, and pleasures. It isn’t easy is it? To say no to self is never easy. It is contrary to our very nature. We all want our own way.
A former president of Indonesia once said, “I love my country, I love women, but most of all I love myself.” You might insert something else in the place of his first two loves, but if you are honest you probably would have to say along with him, “most of all I love myself.” Seriously, we can choose to deny ourselves or we can choose to defy ourselves. We can become our own gods. We can govern our own lives. Or we can abdicate the thrones of our lives and let Jesus be Lord. If we are going to be disciples of Jesus, we must begin by denying ourselves.
HIS YOKE - What does it mean to take Christ’s yoke upon us? The picture of a yoke is that of a harness used over the necks of two animals to train them how to pull together to be successful. The yoke illustrates submission. Submission to Christ’s yoke is never easy because it costs the yielding up of your will to Christ’s will. It is only as we submit to Christ, and learn of Christ that we receive from Christ the rest that He promises in Matthew 11:29. “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.” Verse 30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Jesus did not say that His yoke is heavy. It only becomes heavy when we resist it. It is when we, like Saul of Tarsus, kick against the goads and resist submitting to God’s way that our walk with God becomes a toil and labor.
How does the yoke of Christ work? The more fully committed we are to follow Christ, the more we will have rest and peace. Peace and rest are by-products of unreserved surrender to Jesus Christ. When we are pulling with Christ by submitting ourselves in obedience, our burdens will be lightened and our joys and victories will be complete. We are designed for obedience. We were created to do His will. When we follow Him in obedience it brings refreshing renewal to our minds. (Romans 12:1, 2)