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Matthew 11:30 Meaning

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What does it mean when Jesus says, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)?

The saying “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” is part of a larger passage (Matthew 11:28–30), in which Jesus tells all who are weary and burdened to come to Him for rest. He isn’t speaking here of physical burdens. Rather, it was the heavy burden of the system of works that the Pharisees laid on the backs of the people that Jesus was offering to relieve. Later on in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus will rebuke the Pharisees for laying heavy burdens on the shoulders of the people (Matthew 23:4).

The “yoke of the Pharisees” is the burdensome yoke of self-righteousness and legalistic law-keeping. It has been said by biblical scholars that the Pharisees had added over 600 regulations regarding what qualified as “working” on the Sabbath. That is a heavy burden! Recall the story of the lawyer who asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment of the Law (Matthew 22:36). You can almost read between the lines of the man’s question: “What law, of all the laws we have, do I absolutely have to keep?”

Jesus was saying that any kind of law-keeping is burdensome and amounts to a “heavy yoke” of oppression because no amount of law-keeping can bridge the gap between our sinfulness and God’s holiness. God says through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah that all of our righteous deeds are like a “polluted garment,” and Paul reiterated to the Romans that “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20). The good news is that Jesus promises to all who come to Him that He will give them rest from the heavy burden of trying to earn our way into heaven and rest from the oppressive yoke of self-righteousness and legalism. Jesus encourages those who are “heavy laden” to take His yoke upon them, and in so doing they will find rest for their souls. The yoke of Jesus is light and easy to carry because it is the yoke of repentance and faith followed by a singular commitment to follow Him. As the apostle John says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

This is what Jesus says in Matthew 11:30. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Now, we might think that there is really no difference between the commandments of Jesus and the Jewish Law. Isn’t the same God responsible for both? Technically speaking, yes. If anything, one might argue that the commands of Jesus are even more burdensome because His reformulation of the Mosaic Law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7) actually goes above and beyond a mere outward conformity to the Law and deals instead with the inner person.

What makes Jesus’ yoke easy and His burden light is that in Jesus’ own active obedience (i.e., His perfect fulfillment of the Law of God), He carried the burden that we were meant to carry. His perfect obedience is applied (imputed) to us through faith, just as His righteousness was exchanged for our sin at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our obedience to Jesus then becomes our “spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Furthermore, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who works in our lives to mold us into the image of Christ, thereby making the yoke of Jesus easy and His burden light. The life lived by faith is a much lighter yoke and a much easier burden to carry than the heavy and burdensome yoke of self-righteousness under which some continually strive to make themselves acceptable to God through works.

original source: What does it mean when Jesus says, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)?

John Gill's Commentary...

Christ calls a profession of faith in him, and subjection to his ordinances, a yoke, in allusion to the law of Moses, and in distinction from it; and a "burden", with respect to the very heavy ones the Scribes and Pharisees laid upon the shoulders of the people, obliging them to a strict observance of them; though of a different nature from either of them; "for his commandments are not grievous", hard and heavy to be borne, as their's were, but "easy and light": not that they are so to unregenerate men, or are easily performed by the strength of nature, and power of men's free will: but they are good and amiable, and lovely in their own nature, and are cheerfully complied with, and abundance of spiritual pleasure and delight is enjoyed in them by believers, when they have the presence of God, the assistance of his Spirit, and the discoveries of his love. Moreover, the commands of Christ, and the ordinances of the Gospel, are so in comparison of the law of Moses; which required perfect obedience, but gave no strength to perform, and threatened with condemnation and death, in case of the least failure; and of the numerous, and some very severe rites and usages of the ceremonial law; and of the bulky and heavy traditions of the elders, and ordinances of men.
 
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What does it mean when Jesus says, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)?

The saying “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” is part of a larger passage (Matthew 11:28–30), in which Jesus tells all who are weary and burdened to come to Him for rest. He isn’t speaking here of physical burdens. Rather, it was the heavy burden of the system of works that the Pharisees laid on the backs of the people that Jesus was offering to relieve. Later on in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus will rebuke the Pharisees for laying heavy burdens on the shoulders of the people (Matthew 23:4).

The “yoke of the Pharisees” is the burdensome yoke of self-righteousness and legalistic law-keeping. It has been said by biblical scholars that the Pharisees had added over 600 regulations regarding what qualified as “working” on the Sabbath. That is a heavy burden! Recall the story of the lawyer who asked Jesus what was the greatest commandment of the Law (Matthew 22:36). You can almost read between the lines of the man’s question: “What law, of all the laws we have, do I absolutely have to keep?”

Jesus was saying that any kind of law-keeping is burdensome and amounts to a “heavy yoke” of oppression because no amount of law-keeping can bridge the gap between our sinfulness and God’s holiness. God says through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah that all of our righteous deeds are like a “polluted garment,” and Paul reiterated to the Romans that “no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20). The good news is that Jesus promises to all who come to Him that He will give them rest from the heavy burden of trying to earn our way into heaven and rest from the oppressive yoke of self-righteousness and legalism. Jesus encourages those who are “heavy laden” to take His yoke upon them, and in so doing they will find rest for their souls. The yoke of Jesus is light and easy to carry because it is the yoke of repentance and faith followed by a singular commitment to follow Him. As the apostle John says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

This is what Jesus says in Matthew 11:30. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Now, we might think that there is really no difference between the commandments of Jesus and the Jewish Law. Isn’t the same God responsible for both? Technically speaking, yes. If anything, one might argue that the commands of Jesus are even more burdensome because His reformulation of the Mosaic Law in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7) actually goes above and beyond a mere outward conformity to the Law and deals instead with the inner person.

What makes Jesus’ yoke easy and His burden light is that in Jesus’ own active obedience (i.e., His perfect fulfillment of the Law of God), He carried the burden that we were meant to carry. His perfect obedience is applied (imputed) to us through faith, just as His righteousness was exchanged for our sin at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). Our obedience to Jesus then becomes our “spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Furthermore, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who works in our lives to mold us into the image of Christ, thereby making the yoke of Jesus easy and His burden light. The life lived by faith is a much lighter yoke and a much easier burden to carry than the heavy and burdensome yoke of self-righteousness under which some continually strive to make themselves acceptable to God through works.

original source: What does it mean when Jesus says, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)?

John Gill's Commentary...

Christ calls a profession of faith in him, and subjection to his ordinances, a yoke, in allusion to the law of Moses, and in distinction from it; and a "burden", with respect to the very heavy ones the Scribes and Pharisees laid upon the shoulders of the people, obliging them to a strict observance of them; though of a different nature from either of them; "for his commandments are not grievous", hard and heavy to be borne, as their's were, but "easy and light": not that they are so to unregenerate men, or are easily performed by the strength of nature, and power of men's free will: but they are good and amiable, and lovely in their own nature, and are cheerfully complied with, and abundance of spiritual pleasure and delight is enjoyed in them by believers, when they have the presence of God, the assistance of his Spirit, and the discoveries of his love. Moreover, the commands of Christ, and the ordinances of the Gospel, are so in comparison of the law of Moses; which required perfect obedience, but gave no strength to perform, and threatened with condemnation and death, in case of the least failure; and of the numerous, and some very severe rites and usages of the ceremonial law; and of the bulky and heavy traditions of the elders, and ordinances of men.
I have to agree Chad. Thank you....Have you noticed btw, that the word 'light' often translates to "A revelation of God"? As in "Let there be light." Let there be a revelation of God...and His glory burst forth....
 

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