on Matthew 11 :30
For my yoke is easy - My Gospel imposes nothing that is difficult; on the contrary, it provides for the complete removal of all that which oppresses and renders man miserable, viz. sin. The commandments of Christ are not grievous. Hear the whole: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself. Can any thing be more congenial to the nature of man than love? - such a love as is inspired by God, and in which the soul rests supremely satisfied and infinitely happy? Taste, and know, by experience, how good the Lord is, and how worthy his yoke is to be taken, borne, and loved. This most tender invitation of the compassionate Jesus is sufficient to inspire the most diffident soul with confidence. See on Mark 8:34 (note).
Creeshna, the incarnate God of the Hindoos, is represented in the Geeta addressing one of his beloved disciples thus: "I am the creator of all things, and all things proceed from me. Those who are endued with spiritual wisdom, believe this, and worship me: their very hearts and minds are in me; they rejoice among themselves, and delight in speaking of my name, and teaching one another my doctrine. I gladly inspire those who are constantly employed in my service with that use of reason by which they come unto me; and, in compassion, I stand in my own nature, and dissipate the darkness of their ignorance with the light of the lamp of wisdom." Bhagvat Geeta, p. 84.
The word עול aval, among the Jews, which we properly enough translate yoke, signified not only that sort of neck-harness by which bullocks drew in wagons, carts, or in the plough; but also any kind of bond, or obligation, to do some particular thing, or to do some particular work. By them it is applied to the following things: -
1. The yoke of the Kingdom of heaven, עול מלכות השמים obedience to the revealed will of God.
2. The yoke of the Law, עול הורה the necessity of obeying all the rites, ceremonies, etc., of the Mosaic institution.
3. The yoke of the Precept, עול מצוה the necessity of performing that particular obligation by which any person had bound himself, such as that of the Nazarite, etc.
4. The yoke of Repentance, עול של השוכה without which, they knew, they could not enter into the kingdom of heaven. With the Jews, repentance not only implied forsaking sin, but fasting, mortification, etc.
5. The yoke of Faith, עול אמונה the necessity of believing in the promised Messiah.
6. The Divine yoke, עול רלעילא the obligation to live a spiritual life; a life of thanksgiving and gratitude unto God.
In Shemoth Rabba it is said: "Because the ten tribes did not take the yoke of the holy and blessed God upon them, therefore Sennacherib led them into captivity."
Christ's yoke means, the obligation to receive him as the Messiah, to believe his doctrine, and to be in all things conformed to his Word and to his Spirit.
on Matthew 11 :30
My yoke is easy ... - That is, the services that I shall require are easily rendered. They are not burdensome, like all other systems of religion. So the Christian always finds them. In coming to him there is "a peace which passeth all understanding;" in believing in him, "joy;" in following him "through evil and good report," a comfort "which the world giveth not;" in bearing trials and in persecution, "the hope of glory;" and in keeping his commandments, great reward.
Remarks On Matthew 11
1. A spirit of inquiry about the person and works of Christ is especially proper, Matthew 11:2-3. John was solicitous to ascertain his true character, and nothing is of more importance for all than to understand his true character. Upon him depends all the hope that man has of happiness beyond the grave. He saves, or man must perish. "He" will save, or we must die forever. With what earnestness, therefore, should the old and the young inquire into his character. Our eternal all demands it; and while this is delayed, we are endangering our everlasting felicity.
2. Clear proof has been furnished that Jesus is the Christ and can save us, Matthew 11:4-5. If his miracles did not prove that he came from God, nothing can prove it. If he could open the eyes of the blind, then he can enlighten the sinner; if he could unstop the ears of the deaf, then he can cause us to hear and live; if he could heal the sick, and make the lame walk, then he can heal our spiritual maladies, and make us walk in the way of life; if he could raise the dead, then he can raise those dead in sin, and breathe into us the breath of eternal life. If he was willing to do all this for the body which is soon to perish, then he will be much more willing to do it for the soul, that never dies. Then the poor, lost sinner may come and live.
3. We see in this chapter Christ's manner of praising or complimenting men, Matthew 11:7-15. He gave, in no measured terms, his exalted opinion of John - gave him praise which had been bestowed on no other mortal ranked him far above the purest and sublimest of the prophets. But this was not done in the presence of John, "nor was it done in the presence of those who would inform John of it." It was when the disciples of John had "departed," and his commendation of John was spoken to "the multitude," Matthew 11:7. He waited until his disciples were gone, apprehending, doubtless, that they would be likely to report what he said in praise of their master, and then expressed his high opinion of his character. The practice of the world is to praise others to their faces, or in the presence of those who will be sure to inform them of it, and to speak evil of them when absent. Jesus delivered his unfavorable opinions of others to the people themselves; their excellences he took pains to commend where they would not be likely to hear of them. He did good to both, and in both prevented the existence of pride.
4. The wicked take much pains, and are often fickle and inconsistent, for the sake of abusing and calumniating religious people, Matthew 11:18-19. They found much fault with the Saviour for doing the very same thing which they blamed John for not doing. So it is commonly with people who slander professors of religion. They risk their own characters, to prove that others are hypocrites or sinners. The object is not truth, but calumny and opposition to religion; and hitherto no means have been too base or too wicked to pour contempt on the followers of Christ.
5. The purest characters may expect the shaft of calumny and malice, and often in proportion to their purity, Matthew 11:19. Even the Saviour of the world was accused of being intemperate and a glutton. If the only perfectly pure being that ever trod the earth was thus accused, let not his followers think that any strange thing has happened to them if they are falsely accused.
6. Judgments will overtake guilty people, and cities, and nations, Matthew 11:21-22. They fell on Sodom, Tyre, Sidon, and Capernaum. They may long linger; but in due time the hand of God will fall on the wicked, and they will die - forever die.
7. The wicked will suffer in proportion to their privileges, Matthew 11:23-24. So it was with Capernaum. And if they of ancient days suffered thus; if more tremendous judgments fell on them than even on guilty Sodom, what shall be the doom of those who go down to hell from this day of light? The Saviour was indeed there a few days; he worked a few miracles; but they had not, as we have, all his instructions; they had not Sunday schools, and Bible classes, and the stated preaching of the gospel, nor was the world blessed then, as now, with extensive and powerful revivals of religion. How awful must be the doom of those who are educated in the ways of religion - who are instructed from Sabbath to Sabbath - who grow up amid the means of grace - and then are lost!
8. The poor and needy; the weary and heavy-ladened; the soul sick of sin and of the world; the sinner conscious of guilt and afraid to die, may come to Jesus Christ and live, Matthew 11:28-30. The invitation is wide as the world. The child and the old man may seek and find salvation at the feet of the same Saviour. No child is too young; no man is too old: no one is too great a sinner. Christ is "full" of mercy, and all who come shall find peace. O how should we, in this sinful and miserable world, borne down with sin, and exposed each moment to death - how should we come and find the peace which he has promised to all, and take the yoke which all have found to be light!
on Matthew 11 :30
11:30 For my yoke is easy - Or rather gracious, sweet, benign, delightful: and my burden - Contrary to those of men, is ease, liberty, and honour.