In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.
And, I would add, wearing a yoke.
If you missed out on being present for our Sunday morning services, then you did not hear me share about wearing a yoke (and if you tried to stream and could not because our computer was down, I am so sorry…it was us and not you).
Life can feel a little shaky, and the contemporary culture is no help in relieving this.
With it’s ever-changing expectations, rules and definitions, it can be burdensome.
As humans, we like predictability and things that we can rely on.
The contemporary culture changes routinely.
It was no different for Jesus and His followers.
Mix Roman rule with pharisaical Jewish spirituality, both clamoring for power, and you were left to try to figure out what you were required to do and what people would find acceptable.
Jesus speaks to this in the Gospel reading from last week:
John the Baptizer came with a message of repentance and pious spirituality. He was anti Rome. He should have been acceptable to the pharisees and scribes.
They said he had a demon.
Jesus came celebrating God’s blessings and sharing the joy of these things with everyone.
They said He was a glutton and drunkard.
They just couldn’t win.
Which is burdensome if you think about it.
Especially if you wanted to be a part of the “in” crowd.
Neither Jesus nor John did,
but the disciples would have felt the burden.
Which is why Jesus shares these words with them,
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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.”
Jesus’ answer to the burdens that His disciples would have felt?
A collar made for beasts of burden.
That sounds chill.
Except that they (and we) would do well to remember a few things.
We don’t get to choose whether we will wear a yoke or not.
We only get to choose which yoke we will wear.
And so the offer of Jesus seems a little more legit.
Like it might be the right thing.
The many yokes the world offers come with a high price and are subject to the whims of the culture.
The yoke of Jesus is “light and easy.”
It is meant to give rest to the soul of wearer.
The world offers to steal, kill and destroy.
Jesus offers life and that in abundance.
So what is the “catch” to the offer of Jesus?
There has got to be a downside to all of this.
Forgiveness when we fail to carry the yoke well.
Grace and mercy when we trip up.
Empowerment to carry the yoke through the power of the Holy Spirit when we are crippled under the weight of life.
An expectation of our life to be lived
in the way in which we were created.
A community of other like-minded yoke wearers.
To lighten the light and easy load even more.
It does require us to give up on those things we have relied on in the past or the things we are drawn to that have been our coping mechanisms during this life.
It requires us to stop the insanity of thinking that we can change ourselves by doing the same things, the same way for the same reasons.
In the epistle reading from Sunday, Paul speaks to the conundrum and solution of this issue when he writes,
The conundrum is that we do the things we don’t want to do and do not do the things we are wanting to do. To which Paul calls himself a wretched man in need of saving.
The relief is that our salvation comes through the one whose yoke we are invited to wear.
The one who calls us to this long obedience in the same direction also is the one who makes it possible for us to overcome ourselves.
And to live life fully.
In blessed community.
The only question then is will we choose to wear the yoke of Him who has called us to this life?