“Take My Yoke upon You, and Learn of Me”
Lesson 10 – Matthew 11:28-30; 12:1-13; Luke 7:36-50; 13:10-17
If you were called forward today in class and we progressively filled your arms with a larger and larger stack of books until your carrying capacity was reached, how far could you carry that burden before stopping to rest? What arrangements would you have to make to carry the burden a great distance? There are many kinds of loads, or burdens. Some are physical, while others are spiritual or emotional and therefore, they are not as easily seen. Many unseen burdens can exceed our strength to bear them alone, and we become weary.
This lesson discusses how the Lord can lighten our burdens and bring us rest. We are promised that as we take the Savior’s yoke upon us and do his will, we will find the peace and joy that he has promised.
Matt. 11:28 The Savior invites those who “labour and are heavy laden” to come unto Him. This applies to those who bear physical, emotional, or spiritual burdens. The Lord can “give [us] rest” from these burdens by giving us comfort, guidance, forgiveness, and inspiration as we let him direct our lives.
A yoke is a frame or bar that can be placed on one or two people or animals pulling or carrying a heavy load. The yoke balances the burden and makes it easier to manage. In addition to its literal meaning, the concept of a yoke also appears in many scriptures as a metaphor for bondage or servitude (see Jeremiah 28:2; Alma 44:2). To take Christ’s yoke upon us means that we will humbly do his will and allow him to guide and direct our lives.
Matt. 11:30 The Lord states, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light”. The Savior’s yoke is easy in the sense that it is shared with the Lord and he can compensate for our lack of capacity and inability. Some people think that the Lord’s teachings are too restrictive and that that is in itself a burden, but when we realize that obeying and serving the Lord makes our burdens light by avoiding the consequences of sin and the associated guilt, the yoke is truly easy.
Matt. 12:1-2 The Pharisees condemned their actions when they saw Jesus’ disciples pick corn on the Sabbath. The Pharisees’ interpretation of the Mosaic law ignored the true spirit and purpose of the Sabbath and instead focused on traditions that greatly restricted Sabbath activities.
Matt. 12:3-8 The Lord taught from a different perspective as he responded to their accusations.
Matt. 12:7 What Jesus meant when he said, “I will have mercy, and not sacrifice” was that He wanted the people to focus on loving others, not merely on performing public religious ceremonies. This principle should guide our Sabbath activities.
Matt. 12:10-13; Luke 13:10-17 Jesus taught about the purpose of the Sabbath when he healed the man with the withered hand and the woman bound by an infirmity—teaching that doing well and doing godly service to others is acceptable on the Sabbath.
The Savior also taught about the Sabbath in Mark 2:27-28 (The Joseph Smith Translation of Mark 2:26 explains that the Sabbath was given as a “day of rest” and a day to “glorify God.”)
Think about what you can do on the Sabbath day to glorify God.
Consider how keeping the Sabbath day holy can make our burdens light and bring us rest.
Luke 7:37 The woman who entered the house of Simon the Pharisee carried the burden of sin. Luke 7:36; 7:44-50 The woman did that which allowed Jesus to take away her burden by showing love and having faith.
Consider what you can do so that the Savior can remove the burden of sin from our lives.
The sinful woman and Simon the Pharisee differed in their attitudes toward Jesus:
§ The woman demonstrated repentance, respect, humility, and love.
§ Simon attitude reflected pride, lack of courtesy, and a judgmental attitude.
Elder James E. Talmage taught: “It was a custom of the times to treat a distinguished guest with marked attention; to receive him with a kiss of welcome, to provide water for washing the dust from his feet, and oil for anointing the hair of the head and the beard. All these courteous attentions were omitted by Simon” (Jesus the Christ, 3rd ed. , 261).
The qualities that the woman possessed are important as we repent and seek forgiveness, so they lighten our burden.
The qualities that Simon possessed keep us from repenting and thereby increase our burden. Simon’s attitude toward the woman would have made her burden seem heavier. We can learn from the Savior’s response to the woman.
Luke 7:37 Even though she had not been invited and would risk being treated unkindly by Simon and his household, the woman came directly to Christ as soon as she knew where to find him.
We can learn from her example that we need to seek Christ regardless of the obstacles that might keep us from repenting and coming unto Christ.
Luke 7:41-50 We learn from the parable of the two debtors who were forgiven their debts.
Luke 7:44-50 (with emphasis on verse 47-48) Sin is comparable to debt. Having Christ as our “creditor” makes our burdens light because he is willing to forgive as we repent and change our lives to be more worthy.
We can choose to take upon ourselves the burdens of the world or the yoke of Jesus. Christ’s teachings are true and we will find rest when we follow him. Learn of Christ and obey his teachings so that you can find rest and peace.
The importance of unity
Matt. 12:22-30 We are sometimes divided against ourselves in our families, homes, or wards. The Savior’s counsels us here to eliminate division and become more united.
Matt. 12:30 Jesus told the Pharisees, “He that is not with me is against me”. This is so because this life is a test involving choices—and we must choose the Lord’s way or the way of the world—we cannot avoid a choice. A choice not to choose is a choice against the Lord’s way.
“Every idle word” (Matt. 12:36)
Matt. 12:33-37 The words we speak reveal a great deal about us. Jesus placed high importance on the words we speak. When He referred to “idle words”, that may include sarcasm, gossip, lies, profanity, and rudeness.
Consider how you might strengthen your commitment to speak only in good ways.
These lessons are posted in the Internet at http://www.neumanninstitute.org