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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Unbearable Yoke

A while back I was talking with someone who was very ill.  They have a terminal illness and have been given less than a year to live.  In the course of the conversation I asked how they were handling their situation spiritually.
You ever wonder if religion works?  Thoughts at DTTB.
This individual shared that their belief structure was not aligned with Christianity and then began to share why.  The reasons were ones that I have heard before.  The Bible has been manipulated by men to say what church leaders want people to believe, and that religions do not help people.  I shared data that refuted the first objection.  I heartily agree with the second.

So did Peter.  Look at Acts 15:10 – 11.  As you know this is after Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary journey.  Many gentiles have come to faith.  There is a debate in Jerusalem about whether they should be required to follow the Law and be circumcised.

In the midst of this debate Peter arises and says, “why…place a yoke upon their neck which neither our father nor we have been able to bear?”  The Law, the religion of the Jews, even though given by God, did not – well they could not follow it.  Fact is, that is the case with any set of rules, religion, they cannot be followed.  Quick simple example, all sports have rules.  All sports have referees to penalize the players, when, not if, the rules are broken.  People, us, we, are not really good at keeping rules, laws, commandments.  So the notion that we can follow some sort of structure that will get us in good graces with God is essentially a non-starter.  To translate that into Texan, “That dog won’t hunt.”

As a matter of fact, God knew that when He gave Israel the Law in the first place.  Galatians 3:18 – 29 outlines this for us.  The purpose of the Law was not to make Israel “right” with God, it was to reveal to them that they could not follow it.  To show them that they needed a redeemer, a messiah, to lead them to faith in the Messiah.

That is what the person I was talking to did not understand.  Frankly, it is what a lot of people do not understand about Christianity.  Christianity is not a yoke of rules and processes to follow.  It dispenses with all of that through a personal relationship with Christ through faith.  We acknowledge our helplessness to follow the rules, essentially we agree that we miss the mark, which is what the Greek word for sin means.  So we accept that Christ paid the price for us missing the mark and trust Him to make us right through relationship with Him to the Father.

It is that simple.  We cannot bear the yoke.  We have to trust Christ.


  1. Powerful words. I am amazed at myself because how easily I try to don another yoke than the one Jesus provides and live by it. They are always ill-fitting and oppressive. Any one who has or does run a team of horses where even one side of the yoke doesn't fit correctly knows that it will soon ruin the horse and the team.

    And it will do so to me. "His yoke is easy, and HIs burden is light...."

    1. Yeah, the problem is that too many people think that the yoke is what this Christian thing is all about. We don't help when we pile on things that "have to be done" to be spiritual.

      I wonder how many people have been turned away from the Lord by looking at the yokes that we have created for ourselves and others.