February 2024 Newsletter – Yoke of Christ

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by Brad Stock

As we continue to consider the meaning of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25, we may well ask what it means to be a sheep in Christ’s flock. In Matthew 11, Jesus tells us:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (v. 29, 30)

What is Christ’s yoke? And why should we want to wear it?

According to the 1913 Webster’s dictionary, a yoke is “a frame of wood fitted to a person’s shoulders for carrying pails, etc., suspended on each side; as, a milkmaid’s yoke.” At first glance, a yoke seems like a heavy thing, something that will burden us or weigh us down. But that can’t be Jesus’ meaning, for he says that his “yoke is easy,” his “burden is light.” He promises that if we wear his yoke, we will “find rest.” We will find peace and harmony for our souls [spiritual sense].

What might this mean? A yoke has two ends and helps us bear twin burdens. In this passage, Jesus tells us that we will learn two things when we wear his yoke: what it means to be meek and what it means to be “lowly in heart” [humble].

Jesus was extraordinarily meek and humble. Mrs. Eddy says he “was the meekest man on earth” (MW 163). She also says that his “humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth”(SH 12), and she quotes his statement: “Whosoever… shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Mis. 337).

Jesus’ beatitudes clarify the relationship between meekness and humility. The third beatitude reads: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” This beatitude clearly pairs with the first, which reads: “Blessed are the poor in spirit [humble]: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Taken together, these beatitudes point the way to the kingdom of heaven on earth.

But if this is true, why would Jesus imply that meekness and humility are a yoke? To mortal thought, meekness and humility are heavy burdens, for they require a denial of mortal self.

What might meekness and humility mean in the example of Jesus’ life? Meekness includes a quality of submission, as can be seen in Jesus’ statement, “Not my will, but Thine be done.” Humility includes a modest assessment of one’s own ability, as can be seen another of Jesus’ statements: “I can of mine own self do nothing.” To this, he later adds: “But with God all things are possible.” These statements suggest a Christlike standard of meekness and humility. In this sense, these qualities are in fact the lightest burden, for they allow us to lay down the heavy burdens of a mortal sense of material ego and self. Christ’s two-sided yoke aligns us fully with God. We then find peace, a lighter sense of being, find rest for our souls.
How does this insight relate to Christian Science nursing? A genuine Christian Science nurse should be, above all things, genuinely meek and humble, willing to walk fully in the Way of Christ, wholly submissive to God’s will. The genuine Christian Science nurse knows she can do nothing without God. In this humility and meekness, the true Christian Science nurse finds peace and brings peace to her patient. The Christian Science nurse finds true rest in active obedience to Christ, and the work then approximates the restful action of God on the seventh day of creation, when He saw everything He had made and knew that it was “very good” — truly good, irrevocably good. A Christian Science nurse who bears witness to God’s creation in this way will have a healing effect on all those around her. The Christian Science nurse who bears Christ’s yoke is blessed and will be a blessing.

This then is Christ’s work. This is Christ’s yoke. This is what it means to be a sheep in Christ’s flock. We thereby receive the blessing Christ bestows on his sheep in Matthew 25, on the sheep who willingly serve Christ’s flock. Meekness and humility signify the complete dominion of heaven here on earth. Meekness and humility set us free.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:29, 30)

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