A couple of Sundays ago, Rev. Brian Grandon referenced one of my favorite Christian Bible scriptures:
Come to me, all of you who 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.Matthew 11:28-30, NRSV
Let me add a preceding verse to this one, where Jesus says,
I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent, and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.Matthew 11:25 NRSV
Let’s metaphysically unpack these verses a bit, and see what lessons in truth they reveal.
The Yoke Of The Rabbi
For me the pivotal phrase is, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” While we might all know about an oxen yoke, biblically, yoke is a rabbinic term that refers to the way that a rabbi taught his students (aka disciples) to obey the Torah. A disciple would come under the yoke of a rabbi and learn from them how to obey it by learning how to think and act, and to essentially be made into a copy or image of their rabbi.
It is helpful to remember, Jesus was a Jewish rabbi, which is why he had disciples. However, he was decidedly a non-traditional teacher, and somewhat of a rabble rouser, which is why he got in trouble with the Jewish and Roman power structure. A lot of his lessons spoke to the idea that blindly following the growing set of religious rules, laid down by the Pharisees and Sadducees, is not the “true” pathway to God.
The Burden Of The Law
I’ve seen a reference that in Jesus’ time, the list of religious rules had grown to over 600. Jesus was simply saying, there are way too many rules, some may not even be spiritually centered. This yoke of 600+ rules is heavy and complicated, and it is subject to continual change. It’ll drive you crazy trying to follow all of them. It’s okay to know the rules, but realize that many of them are man-made and therefore fallible. You can probably think of many legal corollaries in our world today.
Now when Jesus spoke to an easy yoke and light burden he was saying, rather than trying to live by all these changeable, human-made rules, just listen to the thought activity of your own consciousness, the language of love emanating from your own heart, or the instinctive guidance and wisdom of your own gut. He was essentially saying to his followers, just like me, you too are imbued with the same Spirit of Truth that comes from Our Father.
Experiencing The Kingdom Of Heaven
Allow yourself to go within, so that you can feel your own connected oneness with this indwelling Spirit. Allow yourself to know in your heart, discern with your mind, and feel in your gut when something is of God, and aligned with Truth. Likewise, trust your own Divine Instinct to know when it is not. If you take the time to go within, to listen for and follow what you know is “right,” you will be guided to the Truth, guided to your own indwelling Christ-consciousness.
Wisdom, discernment, peace, joy, true unconditional love — all attributes of God — are “the things hidden from the wise and the intelligent and have been revealed to infants.” The practice and suggestion of seeing the world through the “eyes of a child” is peppered throughout the Bible. This renewal of mind and heart, through the practice of gratitude and release, is the straightforward path to experiencing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.
This yoke is easy and the burden is light for each of us. It’s a question of choice as to how we lead our lives. Make the choice, each and every day, to awake as a newborn child. Be open to the creative and spiritual possibilities that each day brings. Look for the gifts and blessings that are ever present, every step along the way. Love yourself and love your neighbor. We are all children of the Universe, and able to align ourselves with the same divine laws that Jesus practiced. Choose to live joyfully in alignment with those laws and indeed, your yoke will be easy and your burden light.