Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 25, 1968

On Yokes

R. B. Rasmussen

"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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:29-30) In these precious words, the Lord used the idea expressed by the word yoke to describe some things about his divine purposes. It will be to our benefit, therefore, to learn what the New Testament teaches about the yoke of Christ.

In this passage there are two things said about the Lord's yoke which lead immediately to certain inferences. First note the identification Jesus made of which yoke he was speaking. He said that it was "my yoke." The specification of which yoke implies the existence of other yokes and necessitates a choice. The second thing said of the Lord's yoke provides the motivation for choosing his yoke over all other yokes. He said his yoke was easy. But not easy in the ordinary sense of the word. The word easy comes from the greek word (chrestos) meaning beneficial, profitable, or gracious. We find the same greek word occurring in I Pet. 2:2,3 where the identity of the Christian's motivation to grow unto salvation is based on his confidence that the Lord is gracious. (chrestos) The Lord is gracious in that he both can and will deliver men from the condemnation of sin unto their souls' salvation. The meaning is the same for his yoke. It is easy (gracious) in that with it salvation is obtainable. Peter made a speech to his Jewish brethren in Acts 15:10,11 which contrasted the unbearable yoke of the Jews under the law of Moses with the grace (charts) of the Lord Jesus. The contrast shows how the Lord's yoke is easy in that salvation distinguishes it from all other yokes.

Because the uniqueness of Christ's yoke is salvation, we do not err in examining the gospel about salvation to broaden our insight into this yoke. With this motivation, special meaning is found in Peter's words as recorded in Jno. 6:6-8 "to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." Recognize, with Peter, that what Jesus has and gives are the "words of eternal life." The Lord meant exactly this when he said, "take my yoke upon you and learn of me." To learn of Christ is to learn from Christ the words of eternal life. Herein is the axiom of yokes, that the learning defines the yoke.

Paul testified to the existence of things "contrary to the doctrine which ye learned." (Rom. 16:17) Such things, by the axiom of yokes, mark the existence of other and contrary yokes. His language is plain enough. Christians should shun contrary doctrines, and not put on foreign yokes. The law of Moses was seen to define another yoke. It was unbearable because it could not justify from sin. Likewise, all other yokes are impossible to bear when salvation is desired because of their ineffectuality.

Ephesians 4:17 through 5:17 is a discussion of the relationship between Christ's yoke and foreign yokes. The foreign yokes show the works of the flesh and alienated from the life of God. Paul compares the yoke of Christ where he says, "ye did not so learn Christ." The children of God have a different yoke. To have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness is to be partakers of the wrath of God with the sons of disobedience. In this yoking together of two different kinds of animals, the yoke is never Christ's yoke, and the result is the alienation of the child of God.

This is the unequal yoking spoken of in II Cor. 6:14. Note that Paul asks, "what fellowship have righteousness and iniquity? or what communion hath light with darkness?" This fellowship is not the marriage relationship of a christian and an unbeliever, as some have wrongfully supposed. Instead, it is the fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness which Paul spoke of in Eph. 5:11. Participation in unrighteousness is condemned here and not the association with unbelievers.

Christians are equally yoked with all christians when they abide in the things learned of Christ. The yoke of Christ is easy and the benefits for the people of God are great beyond measure. "Wherefore come ye out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord." (II Cor. 6:17)

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