Sunday, June 01, 2008

Explaining the Yoke of Christ

Matthew 11:29-30 (Young's Literal Translation)
28`Come unto me, all ye labouring and burdened ones, and I will give you rest, 
29take up my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am meek and humble in heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls,
 30for my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.'

Matthew 16:19 (Young's Literal Translation)
 19and I will give to thee the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.'

Matthew 18:18-19 (Young's Literal Translation)
 18`Verily I say to you, Whatever things ye may bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever things ye may loose on the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.
 19`Again, I say to you, that, if two of you may agree on the earth concerning anything, whatever they may ask -- it shall be done to them from my Father who is in the heavens

Its a fact, whether people believe it or not, Scripture was not originally written in English. The message was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, first and foremost for a Jewish audience, and the Jewish culture is very different from our own.

There is a message in God's word for everyone, no matter what culture you come from, but understanding that the words were originally written in Hebrew opens the interpretation to a deeper, more beautiful meaning. The Scriptures written above have a distinct link that is missed by not understanding this fact.

When Christ spoke of his yoke, it was not the type that bound an oxen to a cart. It was a type binding the heart to Scripture.

A rabbi, which is what Jesus was, would teach under another rabbi's tradition, or interpretation. This was called that Rabbi's yoke. When Jesus came along, he was doing something extraordinary in teaching a new interpretation of the Torah, or the first five books of the Bible. When he said his 'yoke was easy and his burden light' he was talking about the interpretation he gave of those scriptures. When a rabbi gave his authority to a disciple to interpret the scriptures and teach under his authority, he was said to be giving them the 'keys to the kingdom of heaven' and with that came the power to 'bind and loose' the moral code of the Torah teaching.

What this is saying is this. God is giving us the authority, to read the Scriptures, make determinations about their meanings, and to live accordingly. This isn't an individual effort though, it is meant to be made in community with others, therefore 'where two or more are gathered together ...' comes into play. 

When Christ said, "I have not come to abolish the Torah but to fulfill it," he was saying, "I have come to show you how to live out the commandments in the Torah completely and fully. All those places where scripture says, "You have heard it said ...., but I tell you ..." was Christ's emphasis that the interpretations had gone askew, but he was there to correct the misunderstandings.

Obviously, all of his interpretations of the Torah are not recorded in the New Testament, but he gave us enough to make determinations of how others should be interpreted, and he gave us the authority to do just that. 

Christ's message was one of Love, not judgement. He didn't tell us to make judgements about people, he said to Love God and Love our neighbors; he also said a lot about social justice -- taking care of the poor and needy. Maybe we should try fulfilling that commandment for a while. 

1 comment:

Shannon said...


I always love reading your post and they always seem to give me a new insight to the Bible and the love of our God. Thanks for sharing these post with all who chose to read them. On another note, if you and Heather will, please pray for our daughter Samantha. She has a rare neuro disease that has left her in a great amount of pain and unable to use her left hand / arm. The disease is called dystonia. Thanks again.