Take my yoke upon you - Strange paradox! that a man already weary and overloaded must take a new weight upon him, in order to be eased and find rest! But this advice is similar to that saying, Psalm 55:22. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain thee; i.e. trust thy soul and concerns to him, and he will carry both thyself and thy load.
I am meek and lowly in heart - Wherever pride and anger dwell, there is nothing but mental labor and agony; but, where the meekness and humility of Christ dwell, all is smooth, even, peaceable, and quiet; for the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever. Isaiah 32:17.
Take my yoke - This is a figure taken from the use of oxen, and hence signifying to labor for one, or in the service of anyone. The “yoke” is used in the Bible as an emblem:
(2)of afflictions or crosses, Lamentations 3:27.
(3)of the punishment of sin, Lamentations 1:14,
(4)of the commandments of God.
It refers here to the religion of the Redeemer; and the idea is, that they should embrace his system of religion and obey him. All virtue and all religion imply “restraint” - the restraint of our bad passions and inclinations - and subjection to laws; and the Saviour here means to say that the restraints and laws of his religion are mild, and gentle, and easy. Let anyone compare them with the burdensome and expensive ceremonies of the Jews (see Acts 15:10), or with the religious rites of the pagan everywhere, or with the requirements of the Popish system, and he will see how true it is that Jesus‘ yoke is easy. And let his laws and requirements be compared with the laws which sin imposes on its votaries - the laws of fashion, and honor, and sensuality - and he will feel that religion is “freedom,” John 8:36. “He is a freeman whom the truth makes free, and all are slaves besides.” It is “easier” to be a Christian than a sinner; and of all the yokes ever imposed on people, that of the Redeemer is the lightest.
For I am meek - See the notes at Matthew 5:5. This was eminently Christ‘s personal character. But this is not its meaning here. He is giving a reason why they should embrace his religion. That was, that he was not harsh, overbearing, and oppressive, like the Pharisees, but meek, mild, and gentle in his government. His laws were reasonable and tender, and it would be easy to obey him.
Today it is still His purpose to sanctify and cleanse His church “... that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” ... (Ephesians 5:26, 27). No greater gift than the character that He revealed, can Christ ask His Father to bestow upon those who believe on Him. What largeness there is in His request! What fullness of grace every follower of Christ has the privilege of receiving!... O that we might more fully appreciate the honor Christ confers upon us! By wearing His yoke and learning of Him, we become like Him in aspiration, in meekness and lowliness, in fragrance of character. AG 322.5Read in context »
The excellence of a genuine connection with Christ comes with obedience to the words, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me....” The worker who has this experience has an intense longing to know the fullness of the love that passes knowledge. His capacity to enjoy the love of God constantly increases. Learning daily in the school of Christ he has a constantly increasing capacity to grasp the meaning of the sublime truths that are as far-reaching as eternity.... HP 28.3Read in context »
Learn of Him who has said, “I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Learning of Him, you will find rest. Day by day you will gain an experience in the things of God, day by day realize the greatness of His salvation and the glory of a union with Him. Constantly you will learn better how to live Christlike, and constantly you will grow more like the Saviour. HP 57.4Read in context »
There are many who testify daily, I am not changed in character, only in theory.... All may through faith gain a conqueror's crown, but many are not willing to engage in hand to hand warfare with their own imperfect dispositions. They retain attributes which make them offensive to God. Daily they are transgressing the principles of His holy law. If all would only learn the simple lesson that they must take and wear the yoke of Christ and learn of the Great Teacher His meekness and lowliness of heart, they would better fulfill their covenant to love God supremely and their neighbor as themselves.... They must begin at the very beginning. Christ says, Take My yoke of restraint and obedience upon you, and learn of Me.... The heart will then be made right with God, through the creative power of Christ. Partakers of the divine nature, they are transformed.... HP 162.3Read in context »