Bread – Yokes

June 13, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, June 13 designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Eccles. 9:11-18; Gal. 5:1-15; Matt. 16:1-12; Psalms 72, 119:73-96

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A “yoke” is something which burdens us, which limits our action, which symbolizes our bondage and servitude.

Today’s reading from Galatians begins with “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Gal. 5:1

We understand the “yoke of slavery” or at least we can pretty much imagine it. If we are bitter, we are slaves to bitterness and in bondage to it. If we are in jail, we are limited in our movement and activities, in bondage – yoked by the jailhouse doors. If we live like fools, we are yoked to foolish things, slaves to the lusts of the heart or the false hope of society. If we are “well educated,” we may be yoked to a particular philosophy or system of thought, which we may not even be aware of, slaves then to that thinking. If we earning our way into heaven, we are slaves to man-made rules and regulations and the prisons of our own minds and reason.

In reading this passage simply, one might be drawn to a conclusion that we are either slave or free, yoked or unyoked. One might be inclined to conclude that being yoked is slavery and, therefore, being unyoked is freedom.

However, Christ said elsewhere “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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt. 11:29-30.

So, how do we reconcile these passages? I think it is by realizing that we are always yoked. We are always bound, we are always burdened, we are always servants of something or someone. Our choice is whether we are yoked to slavery or we are yoked to freedom. And true freedom is found in Christ (“For freedom Christ has set us free”). Therefore, the choice is whether we are yoked to slavery (bondage to the mind, to ourselves, to the world, to Satan) or we are yoked to God (bondage to Christ, to love, to hope, to joy).

Oxen are yoked for tasks; we are yoked for tasks. The question is whether we are yoked to the task of death (yoked to slavery to our sin, our world, our own desires) or yoked to the task of life (abiding in Christ, salvation, love to our neighbors). The question is whether we are yoked to the task of bringing darkness and death into the world or whether we are yoked to the task of bringing light and life into the world. The question is whether we are yoked to the task of bringing lies into the world or the task of bringing truth into the world. The question is whether we are yoked to man or to God.

We are yoked in any event. Freedom carries with it a burden. The burden is light, but it still exists.

Actually, the burden of freedom is not so light, because with great freedom goes great responsibility to use that freedom wisely. The difference is that we bear the burden of slavery alone. In Christ, He has done the heavy lifting on the cross. In the freedom which comes from Christ, our abilities to do the tasks we are bound to as Christ-followers are enabled by the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

The yoke of slavery or the yoke of freedom. Which one do you put on today? If you are Christ’s disciple, you know what the answer should be. If you are not, the yoke of slavery is your only real option.

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One Response to “Bread – Yokes”

  1. KathyK Says:

    Another thing to consider is that many times oxen or other beasts of burden were yoked together in pairs. An older, more experienced ox was yoked with a younger one to help the training process. I believe that if we are willing to accept the yoke of Christ that he will be in the traces along with us to help us learn his ways and do his work.


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