The Life Jacket Yoke

Several summers back I helped out at Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center as the chaplain to the summer camp staff for the summer and so you can bet that these devos might be influenced by some of the work with the summer staff.  During that summer I used Matthew 11:28-30 as a theme verse for my work with the staff this summer. Here’s what that passage says:

“28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  29 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.  30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

When Jesus talks about a yoke here he’s not talking about a physical yoke like this:


Jesus was talking about of his teachings.  Jesus is a Rabbi and in His day a Rabbi’s yoke referred to the teachings of the Rabbi.  Each Rabbi had a unique way of interpreting the Scriptures and so the followers of different Rabbi’s would subscribe to different “yokes”.  

A friend of mine compared the yoke in this passage to a life jacket.  I really like this analogy.  If you’ve ever spent time on a lake (and this friend is from Minnesota, so we can assume that she has spent time on 10,000 different lakes) you know that you always have to put on your life jacket.  Even if you are an expert swimmer, or even if you’re just sitting in the boat with no intention of going in the water, you wear a life jacket. 

And if you’ve ever worn a life jacket, you know how awkward and cumbersome they are.  But despite all these inconveniences, you wear a life jacket because it can save your life.  

It’s much the same with the yoke of Jesus.  We follow Jesus and listen to his teachings because it saves our life.  At times Jesus’ yoke might seem awkward, or out of place.  At times following Jesus certainly won’t be the popular or easy choice.  But, the truth is that following Jesus is the way we were meant to live, it is the yoke that saves us from ourselves and guides us away from our own dumb decisions. 

It’s interesting that in this passage Jesus says that his yoke is easy.  Personally, I don’t think the message of Jesus is always easy.  For example (and there are many examples), Jesus tells his followers to sell everything they own and follow him.   Not easy.  

But when Jesus says that His yoke is easy and burden light He is inviting us to understand His ways as blessings.  He is inviting us to find rest in His teachings; to discover that His way of life is the best way to live, it’s the way we were created to live. 

So, yeah, the teachings of Jesus are kinda like a life jacket. Maybe they seem a little awkward and cumbersome at first, but you get used to it. And not only that, but these teachings they can save your life.

May we find rest and blessing in The Way of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Nate Preisinger