12.09.2009

What's on your shoulders?

Matthew 11:28-30

This is one of my favorite promises from Jesus, especially the way Eugene Peterson renders it in The Message. "Get away with me and you'll recover your life. ... Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." This sounds like a relationship that I want to be in!

The traditional reading says that those of us who are "carrying heavy burdens" -- our challenges, our worries, our wants, our striving -- can exchange that for Jesus' "yoke." If we know that at all we know it as linking two farm animals to get more work out of them. I've generally thought of this as something Jesus puts on me.

Peterson's version suggests another reading: That Jesus asks me to join him in the same yoke. Christ invites us to join him in his "easy" task of preaching good news and bringing healing. Scholars say that "easy" here does not mean "less strenuous" but rather "well suited to the task" and "producing beneficial results." Jesus says his yoke is easy not because it allows us to goof off but engages us in holy work here and now.

In other words, he suggests his yoke is the one that best fits our human condition, with our failings, our desire to do good and make a difference, and all the "humanity" that we experience.

What yoke is on your shoulders? Christ's yoke? Or ones of individualism, taking it easy, consumerism? Another?

How does it fit?

What would a yoke that fit you well be like?

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