Sermon session

Good Yoke

Session #083 Good Yoke

Scripture Matthew 11:25-30

Summary Matthew 11:25-30 closes the entire episode surrounding John and Baptist and Jesus. The chapter began with the messenger but rightly ends with the Messiah. Jesus emphasizes again the place of divine revelation and the expectation of personal responsibility. When we accept the invitation of Jesus to take up His yoke and to learn from Him, we find rest even as we fulfil our responsibilities.


At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 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.” Matthew 11:25–30

When we accept the invitation of Jesus to take up His yoke and to learn from Him, we find rest even as we fulfil our responsibilities.

Revelation & Response (Matthew 11:25–27)

This is the concluding passage in Matthew 11 which had given a strong warning to those who did not repent and believe the message of Jesus just verses before. Why was there no response when Jesus demonstrated His authority in the healing miracles?

The Father’s ‘Strategy’ of Revelation

Jesus thanked the Father, acknowledging Him as Lord of heaven and earth (Matthew 11:25). It is a Hebraic idiom acknowledging God as the Creator of all things. Jesus identified Himself with the Creator, calling Him Father. It was Jesus’ open confession and agreement with the Father’s strategy.

The Father’s Strategy

“You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes”

Babes in Greek is nepios which means that one who cannot speak; or little children, those who wholly depend on others for help. “Wise and prudent” refers to those who depend on themselves in intellect and strengths (1 Corinthians 1:26-39).

God has hidden these things, the spiritual truth, from the people who think they know it all and revealed them to those who humbly trust in Him. God intends to reveal Himself to everyone but how the revelation is to be received depends on those who acknowledge their need for Him. The message is for all to hear but the way that we respond matters.

It is from the revelation of the Father to the revelation of the Son (Matthew 11:27) who has been given all things and knows all things. They are One, Jesus is God.

In John 8:19 and 14:5-9, Jesus told the people and His disciples that if they know Him, they would know the Father also. John 1:18 also declares that no one has seen God but Jesus, and Hebrews 1:1–4 establishes Jesus’ position and authority as God. As such, no one else can know God except through the Son.

The condition of “this generation” was hard, they sought position and power, filled with pride. They had rituals, rules, and regulations that became legalistic and burdensome to follow. It was easier to tell others than to keep it themselves which Jesus called hypocrisy. Their tradition and function became more precious than the law itself, missing the heart of what God was after.

John preached against the above, calling them to repent, to bear fruits worthy of repentance.

John cautioned them to prepare for the Messiah who would save them and show them the right way.

Jesus also preached against the above; revealing the true heart of the Father. There was nothing wrong with the law but the way that it was approached is wrong.

Rest and Responsibility (Matthew 11:28-30)

The tendency is to notice rest first but the correct focus should be “come to Me”, “take My yoke” and “learn from Me”. If you do not respond rightly to these, you will not have the rest.

Come to Me – the right response to the revelation
“All you who labour and are heavy laden” does not refer to a tough day at the office but to the heaviness of religiosity, institutionalism and legalism. Jesus addressed the way religious leaders had been teaching people wrongly. The law became burdensome and many were being weighed down and killed by the demands of the law.

However much you do or try, there always seems to be more to do and achieve. Jesus offers rest.

Are you tired of the demands of religious leaders? Are you tired of trying to be better, not sin? Jesus promises a better way.

What is Christianity to you? Jesus did not say “Come to church or cell group” but “Come to Me”. Real rest is not found in a religion or a system or a method. It is found in God, in the Person of Jesus. It explains why so many are disappointed with the church and churchy stuff. It may distract you for a while but in the end, you are still empty without Jesus. If you are not careful, all these can even replace Jesus, giving you a false sense of rest.

Take My yoke upon you – after coming to Jesus
The yoke is a wooden bar or beam attached to two or more animals for them to work together; it can refer to a single animal too. Symbolically, it refers to work or servitude or bondage (Genesis 27:40).

Usually, the yoke is used negatively, under the yoke of kings and foreign oppressors like Egypt, Midian, and Babylon. Hence, the cry for God “to break the yoke”.

Under the yoke of transgression and sin, Jeremiah explained why Israel was subjected to the yoke of their enemies (Lamentations 1:14).

The yoke of the kingdom of God is seen in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 when Israel was delivered from Egypt, but now became servants of YHWH. They were no longer under the yoke of the kingdom of Egypt, but now under “the yoke of the kingdom of God”. To be yoked to God and His kingdom is to be yoked to His laws.

When they read the Shema they commit to being under the yoke of God and His law. This is contrasted against “the yoke of the kingdom of man”. “Whoever takes upon himself the yoke of the Torah, they remove from him the yoke of government and the yoke of worldly concerns, and whoever breaks off the yoke of the Torah, they place on him the yoke of government and the yoke of worldly concerns” (Avot 3:5).

Jesus’ yoke is the King’s yoke which is the yoke of the kingdom of God, and this is the good yoke. “I will give you rest, for My yoke is easy, and the burden is light.” Jesus is still in the business of removing wrong and bad yokes, to be replaced with His good yoke.

The yoke of sin vs the yoke of Jesus
Jesus is the only one who can set you free from the power and penalty of sin, and later from the presence of sin by dying with Him and being raised a new creation in Him. Sin has no hold over you. You are set free from the yoke and bondage of sin. Do not serve sin, serve Jesus.

The yoke of legalism and a religion of works vs the yoke of Jesus
The law makes you try and try only to fail and fail. On one extreme, condemnation. On the other extreme, pride. Jesus sets you free from this so “do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Do not abuse this freedom but redirect this freedom to “serve one another” through love (Galatians 5:13). The Law seems to say, “Serve me. Then I will love you.” Jesus says, “Come to Me. I love you. Love Me back. Out of that love, serve Me.” (1 John 5:2). Do not serve as slaves to the Law. Serve as bondservants (love slaves) of Jesus.

The yoke of man and the world
Do not serve the systems of this world or men. Do not be “unequally yoked” with unbelievers and pagan or spiritual practices (2 Corinthians 7:14). Our only concern is Jesus, what He says and thinks. He has the final word. Do not serve man and institutions. Serve Jesus and His kingdom.

Learn from Me – how to take up the yoke (Matthew 11:28-30)

Manthano is to learn with the root word of a disciple, learner. It is about discipleship and it carries responsibilities. There is work (yoke) to be done.

Two pictures can be seen, one is Jesus as the one directing and steering the yoke, or Jesus as the other one under the yoke. Both are applicable, yoked or paired. A younger animal is often paired with an older, stronger, and more experienced animal to work the field.

In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “imitate me as I imitate Christ”  telling them to observe and follow as he is an imitator of Christ. Jesus keeps us aligned with Him, not just working for Jesus, but working with Christ. We are working from a posture of rest which is not always smooth but we rest in Christ.

Jesus mentioned two aspects that set Him apart from others, gentle (meek) as opposed to harsh, angry, demanding, controlling, and manipulative; and lowly in heart (humble) as opposed to proud, haughty, arrogant, seeking prominence and entitlement-mentality. What does being gentle and humble mean? It is a healthy balance of grace and truth; love and tough love. His yoke is easy and the burden is light means that He is a good and loving king. He is worthy to be served and worthy of all our heart, our mind, and our strength.

Discipleship means responsibility, obedience, and service. Obedience is out of love, joyful service

is from a posture of rest.


Revelation requires a response. God reveals. We respond. We are to be like babes, little children who trust completely; not spoilt children who demand their way.

To know the Father is to know the Son. The Son reveals the Father adequately and accurately. It is all about Jesus. Know the King. Embrace His kingdom. This is the right response – Come to Me.

When we accept the invitation of Jesus to take up His yoke and to learn from Him, we find rest even as we fulfil our responsibilities.