Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Double Yoke.
I began my first regular paying job in the seventh grade. I was hired by a farmer in our church to work at one of the chicken houses his farm operated and pick up eggs. This farm produced eggs for consumption and the particular chicken house I was assigned to was one of the oldest the farm had and was not automated. That meant that the eggs the chickens laid were not deposited on a conveyor belt as in the newer houses, but instead, had to be gathered by hand. That was my job. I and three other young boys were employed to push a wooden cart down the long rows and pick up the eggs that had rolled down from the cages where they had been deposited by the hens. There were four tiers of cages on either side of the row, four chickens to a cage. This meant that on any given day I would collect approximately 1400 eggs after school. My pay for this task was the grandiose figure of a penny a dozen. Most Fridays this would provide me with a paycheck of about $8.25 or $8.50. In the seventh grade in 1978, I believed I had hit the jackpot. If I worked hard all year and saved my money I could have well over $400.00…I would be rich! I didn’t save, and I didn’t get rich either.
Money wasn’t the only reason to leave school and go to that job every day. There were other perks as well. Chickens lay eggs in several sizes and there are anomalies too, like soft-shelled eggs. These were prized because they couldn’t be sold for their lack of a hard shell…but they could be hidden to throw at each other after work. Their thick leathery shell would sting as it made impact and then rip open spilling their contents down the back of a shirt if aimed correctly. The second kind of an egg to be set aside was a double-yolker. These were usually so large the machinery that sized the eggs as small, medium, large, extra-large, or jumbo, would reject them. They were larger than a jumbo egg and usually contained two small yolks within. These we held onto because we were permitted to take them home. It made a seventh grade boy proud if he could present his mother with one or maybe even two double-yolkers! A double-yolker is worth getting excited about. I even found one in the bible, and I set it aside to present it to you today.
Matthew 11:28-30 in the New Living Translation says; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I hope most of you know me well enough by now to know that I know there is a difference between a y-o-l-k and a y-o-k-e, but I try to never let a good pun go to waste. This is a cool double-yolker…so let’s look at it together.
In this scripture Jesus is doing much more than using an analogy to make a point. He is making a comparison. I have heard many sermons on this scripture and the point is always made that two oxen have exponentially more power than one alone. This is true…but I don’t think it the main point Jesus was insinuating. I have also heard it taught that an inexperienced ox joined with an experienced one will learn from the older and be able to bear even more weight. Also true…but again I think it misses Jesus point. The analogy was important…the comparison was crucial. Looking at what He said we can read that he began with the statement “Come to Me”. This is important with the comparison in mind. Before Jesus began His ministry the vast majority of religious instruction the people received was from the leaders of their time, the Pharisees. These men had replaced many of God’s laws intended to bless His people with their own traditions, intended to further empower and enrich the Pharisees. Jesus was offering a stark alternative. He was saying to people that if they felt heavily burdened by all of the weight being placed on them by the Pharisees intended to bless the Pharisees but burden the people in their care, they should instead come to Him, (believe in) Him (Jesus) and He would treat them differently. He was saying that walking with Him would not be a burden but would instead actually bring rest. Where the Pharisees had wanted to leave the people in bondage, Jesus wanted to set them free. The Pharisees wanted to weigh the people down; Jesus was saying He wanted to carry their load. Jesus wanted to help the people in the ways the Pharisees should have wanted to do if they had not been so selfish. Jesus does want us to join ourselves with Him so He can teach us, but again He made the comparison that He will teach in a gentle and loving way, not the harsh and overbearing way the Pharisees had been doing. Jesus wants us to join Him in the yoke to teach us to be like Him. This is His desire because He knows this is how we can experience the easiest and best life possible. He knows following His example will not produce a trouble free life but it will ensure we never have to bear those difficulties alone.
The second yoke comes from Jeremiah 5:5,6 …But with one accord they too had broken off the yoke and torn off the bonds. Therefore a lion from the forest will attack them, a wolf from the desert will ravage them, a leopard will lie in wait near their town to tear to pieces any who venture out, for their rebellion is great and their backslidings many.
As we can see from the former statement of Christ, the yoke is a place of gentleness and learning to be more like Him. From these verses we also see that the yoke is intended to be our place of safety. In the context of this scripture God was asking Jeremiah how He could pardon His people if no one could be found to be righteous. It soon becomes apparent even to Jeremiah that there is no one in the entire city of Jerusalem who can claim to be following after God. So he says in one accord they have broken off the yoke. In other words, they have all pulled away from God. In so doing they have removed themselves from the only place they could have been safe. As a result there is no place they can go where they will be safe. Jeremiah writes that if they go to the forest, a lion will attack them. If they go to the desert, a wolf will get them. Even if they go into their towns seeking refuge a leopard will be waiting to strike when necessity causes them to venture outside. All of this to indicate that in leaving the safety of the yoke, in pulling away from our loving God’s protection, there is no place we can be safe from our enemy.
Double yolkers are unique and special, they are worth setting aside to share with someone else. I found this double reason for being yoked to our Lord and Savior to be interesting as well and I wanted to share it with you today. Our God is a good, good God. He wants us to rest in Him. He wants us to realize that His yoke is easy, His burden is light. He wants to teach us to be more like Him and He wants to keep us safe so that we can walk alongside Him every day free of fear and danger. So link yourself up with Him gratefully. Yoke yourself together with Him and His great love for you. Don’t struggle to be free of the yoke, it is the instrument God uses to share with you your best life.
So now, allowing Christ to take the lead, learn, rest, and enjoy His close company as you walk alongside Him each and every day…and Go Be Awesome!