“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 am reading a fascinating book called Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith by Rob Bell. I have always been interested in language and the meaning/interpretation of words. So often, we take the most common words for granted. This kind of questioning started back in my theatre days when we were challenged to investigate, “what does this phrase or word really mean?” The Bible is full of words that are loaded: love, grace, sin, hope, faith, truth… that’s just a few for starters!
Anyway, Rob Bell speaks of this meaning and interpretation of words as one of the responsibilities of a Rabbi. And those disciples who studied under a rabbi understood that he was the one, after much study and prayer, who would make the final determination/interpretation. For instance, if the law said that no work could be done on the Sabbath, it was the Rabbi who interpreted what “work” might mean. Different Rabbis had different interpretations. One might say that walking 3 miles was permissible but walking more was work. While another might say 2 miles, etc. As a result, people would choose or align themselves with a rabbi whose set of interpretations they would follow. This set of interpretations was called the Rabbi’s Yoke!
Of course, you can see where I’m going here: Jesus, the Rabbi, brought a new yoke to the people. He even announced it and invited others to follow because His yoke was easy! This is the way of Jesus even today.