At this point, we ought to have firmly in our vision the image of Israel - specifically of the priests and of the sons of Kohath - yoked with the burdens of holy and human things on their shoulders, the way that Gershon and Merari and all the rest of the tribes of Israel yoked their burdens to their ox carts. We ought to see men called by God to carry these burdens on their own shoulders as they sojourn toward the Promised Land.
With this image, another word draws into mind and all of a sudden, it makes more sense than ever before. Christ Himself said, "Take my yoke upon you....for my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
It is this burden, this weight of the holy and heavy things, that Jesus wants to help us carry in the way that He carried it.
And He says in this passage what we have said earlier in this week, that what enables Him to carry the burdens the way that He does is His humility of spirit. It's a humbleness thing. It's always been a humbleness thing.
But what we have to notice about the way that Jesus carries the burden of holy and human things is that His humility does not come from His burdens; His humility rests in His spirit, which means that Jesus humbles Himself before the weight of this world does. He humbles Himself before His humanity gets to Him. He humbles Himself in preparation for the burden, not in response to it. Whereas the priests and the sons of Kohath carried these burdens on their shoulders as reminders to be humble, Jesus needs no reminder; He starts there. And then, even the burdens can't shake Him.
That's the difference between the forced humbleness of the labor of being human and a chosen, faithful humility of the spirit, which recognizes from the very beginning its place in God's tapestry and is content to take it.
This is not just good-sounding theology. It's not just highly-quotable Jesus. It's not something He said because it sounds good, but we need look no further than His actual life to see that it is lived well, too. For who among us has ever carried their burdens with as much ease and grace as Christ Himself? Who among us has borne the holy and the human things so beautifully?
Look at the way that He carried His Father's blessing through the world. It was neither loud nor proud, but with humility of spirit, He used it as confirmation, as affirmation, as justification and sanctification. He did not scream, "I am my Father's Son!" Rather, He spoke softly and confidently and bore His Father into this world in a way that was undeniable, yet so natural for Him.
Look at the way that He carried His humanity, and ours, through the world. He took upon Him the iniquity of men, but even more than that - He welcomed their troubles. He took into His heart their ills, their afflictions, their diseases, their questions. He reached out in tenderness and touched every one of them. He could do this only through the humility of spirit that knew how to bear such burdens in the world.
Look at the way that He carried His cross....
Most of us don't think about what it's like to be yoked. We don't think about carrying things on our shoulders, but the Scriptures tell us again and again that this is precisely what we are supposed to do. Human and holy things, they have to be carried this way because we must - we must - feel the full weight of them to understand what God is doing here, to understand what we're doing here. The images of the priests and the Kohathites are our reminders of this, and if we are not humbled by that thought, we will be humbled by that weight as soon as we take it upon us.
But Jesus says, and shows, there is a better way. For He beautifully and graciously and wonderfully says, Take My yoke upon you...for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. And then He shows us how to carry it well.