Yoke upon You, and Learn of Me”
Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us and learn of him.
Jesus declares that he is Lord of the Sabbath.
Jesus forgives a woman in house of Simon the Pharisee.
A study of this lesson will help us understand that as we take the Savior’s
yoke upon us and do his will, we will find the peace and joy that he has
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 10 Handout (PDF
Take My Yoke Upon You
MATTHEW 11:28-30. Come unto the Lord and he
will give you rest.
- The Lord has issued an invitation to those who labor and are carrying great
- WHO HAS THE LORD ISSUED AN INVITATION TO?
- Once again we see that the Lord has painted a mental image for those whom
he is teaching. Years ago I worked for a large grocery store that had a
huge Independence Day sale. I worked in the produce department. Among the
fantastic bargains were watermelons at two cents per pound. The manager
brought in three semi-trailers full of watermelons. During the weeklong
sale, I worked double shifts and spent much of that time hauling
watermelons from the trailer to the store. At times, I wondered if those
trailers would ever be empty. I longed for the end of the sale and a
resumption of normal hours. It was a difficult week. In a physical sense,
I was "heavy laden" and "labored" hard during that week. I longed for
- As we go back to ancient times, I visualize those that were required
to physically labor in order to survive and feed their families. My six
day challenge pales in comparison to those ancient workers. We can imagine
the farmers who worked hard, scratching an existence from the soil,
without the benefit of modern machinery. The stone masons who chiseled
stone for decades. Those who hauled water from wells far from
their homes. I am sure these people could see no end to their labor. I
wonder if they ever gave up hope for a more restful existence. So when
they heard the Savior speak of rest, I am sure that the working people
listened. In part, this may explain why the scribes and Pharisees were not
as attentive to the Savior's messages. They simply could not comprehend
the life of the common person.
- Since none of us are perfect, we go through life making mistakes. The
burden of sin often becomes heavy and bearing that burden becomes great.
Like the ancient laborer, at times, there seems to be no hope. And there
are other burdens in this life: the loss of loved ones, the challenges of
family, or the many worries we face throughout a lifetime.
- WHAT KIND OF REST IS THE LORD SPEAKING ABOUT?
- It is clear that the Lord is not talking about rest from hauling
watermelons or working the soil or any other kind of physical labor. So
what is this rest?
- President Joseph F. Smith: "The ancient
prophets speak of 'entering into God's rest'; what does it mean? To my
mind, it means entering into the knowledge and love of God, having faith
in his purpose and in his plan, to such an extent that we know we are
right, and that we are not hunting for something else, we are not
disturbed by every wind of doctrine, or by the cunning and craftiness of
men who lie in wait to deceive." (Gospel Doctrine, p58)
- HOW DOES THIS "REST" AFFECT THE BURDENS WE CARRY IN THIS LIFE?
WHAT IS A YOKE?
- Dictionary definitions:
- "A device for joining together a pair of
draft animals, esp. oxen, usu. consisting of a crosspiece with two
bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal."
(Webster's College Dictionary, p1547)
- "A frame fitting a person's neck and
shoulders, for carrying a pair of buckets or the like, one at each end."
- Gerald Lund's Work and Glory series contains many wonderful
stories from Church history. Volume 9 covers the period when the Saints moved west,
including the Mormon Battalion. Brother Lund also tells the story of the ill
fated Donner party. All of these pioneers primarily used a yoke of oxen to pull
their wagons west. When crossing streams or difficult passes, the burden was
so great at times that several yoke of oxen were required to pull the wagon
past the obstacle. Even more than these great obstacles was the daily,
ongoing toil of pulling the wagons across the plains, streams, and
WHAT DOES THE SAVIOR MEAN WHEN HE ASKS US TO TAKE HIS YOKE UPON US?
- As we consider the yoke used by the pioneers, we are challenged by this
comparison. The people of Jesus' time understood the great burden that was
undertaken when one harnessed animals to a yoke. Why would the Savior
suggest such a comparison?
- When we are baptized, we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We
covenant that we will keep his commandments. We promise that we will always
remember him. This is the "yoke" of the Lord. President Joseph Fielding
Smith said that "Membership in the Church is not
for the idler. He who seeks an easy road to salvation must go elsewhere, it
is not to be obtained in the Church." (The Way to Perfection,
IN WHAT WAY IS THE SAVIOR'S YOKE EASY AND HIS BURDEN LIGHT? WHY DO SOME
PEOPLE THINK THE LORD'S TEACHINGS ARE TOO RESTRICTIVE? HOW DOES OBEYING AND
SERVING THE LORD MAKE OUR BURDENS LIGHT?
- President Joseph Fielding Smith: "When a man
confesses that it is hard to keep the commandments of the Lord, he is making
a sad confession—that he is a violator of the Gospel law. Habits are easily
formed. It is just as easy to form good habits as it is to form evil ones.
Of course it is not easy to tell the truth, if you have been a confirmed
liar. It is not easy to be honest, if you have formed habits of dishonesty.
A man finds it very difficult to pray, if he has never prayed. On the other
side, when a man has always been truthful, it is a hard thing for him to
lie. If he has always been honest and he does some dishonest thing, his
conscience protests very loudly. He will find no peace, except in
repentance. If a man has the spirit of prayer, he delights in prayer. It is
easy for him to approach the Lord with assurance that his petition will be
answered. The paying of tithing is not hard for the man, fully converted to
the Gospel, who pays his tenth on all that he receives. So we see the Lord
has given us a great truth—his yoke is easy, his burden is light if we love
to do his will!" (The Way to Perfection, p150)
- President Smith teaches great truth in this statement. When we love the
Lord, doing his will is not a chore or burden. It is a yoke that we
accept gratefully. A yoke was used for joining two animals, usually
for the purpose of pulling a loaded wagon. When we take upon us the yoke of
the Lord, we are not alone. The Lord joins us in that yoke and as we strive
to do our part, the Lord helps us to accomplish his will.
Jesus Declares That He Is Lord Of The Sabbath
"At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through
the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears
of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him,
Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath
day." (Matthew 12:1-2)
WHAT DID THE PHARISEES DO WHEN THEY SAW JESUS' DISCIPLES PICK CORN ON THE
They accused the disciples of breaking the law of Moses. They focused
on the letter of the law and ignored the true spirit and purpose of the
Bruce R. McConkie: "By this one Sabbath-performed act, our Lord's fellow
travelers were guilty of two violations, not of biblical, but of Rabbinic
law. They had both reaped and harvested. The plucking of the ears of corn
constituted reaping, and the rubbing off of the husks fell under the sabbatical
prohibition against sifting in a sieve, threshing, sifting out fruit, grinding,
or fanning. Each of these sins merited punishment and required a sin offering
on the great altar in the house of the Lord in Jerusalem." (Mortal
HOW DID JESUS RESPOND TO THIS ACCUSATION?
MATTHEW 12:3-8. The Son of man is Lord of the
Alfred Edersheim, quoted by Elder McConkie: "The priests worked on
the Sabbath, because this service was the object of the Sabbath; and David
was allowed to eat of the shewbread, not because there was danger to life
from starvation, but because he pleaded that he was on the service of the
Lord and needed this provision. The disciples, when following the Lord,
were similarly on the service of the Lord; ministering to Him was more
than ministering in the Temple, for He was greater than the Temple."
(Mortal Messiah, 2:87)
The Sabbath is a day to serve God, not to be caught up in a ritualistic,
legal observance. Elder McConkie said: "We have seen how
they turned a day of freedom and worship and rejoicing into one of Rabbinical
rules and restrictions. No longer were the Jews free to worship the Lord
their God with a clear conscience on this holy day. Rather, the restrictions
were so rigid, the controls so complete, the prohibitions so profuse, that
it was as though man had been made for the Sabbath. Their failures on that
day—for no man could keep all of the restrictions involved—created a great
guilt complex over the whole nation." (Mortal Messiah, 2:398)
MATTHEW 12:9-13. Jesus restores a withered hand
on the Sabbath.
LUKE 13:10-17. A woman healed of her infirmity.
WHAT DID JESUS TEACH ABOUT THE PURPOSE OF THE SABBATH IN THESE TWO INCIDENTS?
The following statement by the Savior sums up proper observance of the
Sabbath: "Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days."
CAN WE, LIKE THE PHARISEES, GET SO CAUGHT UP IN LIVING THE LETTER OF THE
LAW THAT WE LOSE THE TRUE SPIRIT OF THIS HOLY DAY? HOW?
Consider the story of the Martin handcart company. As they approached Salt
Lake City late in November, after their tragic incident in Wyoming, Brigham
Young was preaching in the "Old Tabernacle." It was the Sabbath. When he
learned of their approach, President Young said: "When those persons
arrive I do not want to see them put into houses by themselves. I want
to have them distributed in this city among the families that have good,
comfortable houses; and I wish the sisters now before me, and all who know
how and can, to nurse and wait upon the newcomers, and prudently administer
medicine and food to them. * * * The afternoon meeting will be omitted,
for I wish the sisters to go home and prepare to give those who have just
arrived a mouthful of something to eat, and to wash them, and nurse them
up. * * * Prayer is good, but when (as on this occasion) baked potatoes,
and pudding, and milk are needed, prayer will not supply their place. Give
every duty its proper time and place." (Comprehensive History of the
If President Young had continued to abide by the Pharisaic law of the Sabbath,
the Saints would have continued with their normal Sabbath duties and would
have taken care of the Martin company on the following day. This is not
what the Savior taught and this is not what his prophet taught.
"Wherefore the Sabbath was given unto man for a day of
rest; and also that man should glorify God, and not that man should not
eat." (JST Mark 2:26)
WHAT CAN WE DO ON THE SABBATH DAY TO GLORIFY GOD? WHAT IS PROPER SABBATH
In 1980, when the Church made the change to the consolidated meeting schedule,
the First Presidency stated, "A greater responsibility
will be placed upon the individual members and families for properly observing
the Sabbath day." They suggested that each family participate in a Sunday gospel
study hour and in "other appropriate Sabbath activities, such as strengthening
family ties, visiting the sick and homebound, giving service to others,
writing personal and family histories, genealogical work, and missionary
work." (Church News, Feb 2, 1980, p3)
Jesus Forgives A Woman In The House Of Simon The Pharisee
It is autumn and Jesus has been ministering for nearly two years.
Only a year and a half remains in his ministry.
There is a rising tide of opposition.
Jesus is invited to eat at the home of Simon the Pharisee.
Guests entering Palestinian homes often removed their sandals, because they were
concerned that pollution from the streets might contaminate the mats and rugs on which family
prayers were offered.
At the dining table they reclined on couches with their feet outward from
Evidently the dining hall was accessible to others than those bidden to
partake of the meal. According to the social customs of the day one could
speak to the guests without being bidden to depart by the master of the
Review Luke 7:36-50.
"And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew
that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box
of ointment" (Luke 7:37).
This women carried a heavy burden of sin.
WHAT DID SHE DO THAT ALLOWED JESUS TO TAKE AWAY HER BURDEN?
She approached the Master in faith and humility.
WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO SO THAT THE SAVIOR WILL REMOVE THE BURDEN OF SIN
IN OUR LIVES?
The Savior has taught all of us, through this incident, what needs to be
done on our part in order to receive this great blessing. We must approach
the Lord in an attitude of humility and faith.
Consider again the actions of the Nephites after having heard the stirring
word of King Benjamin:
"And they had viewed
themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth.
And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply
the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins,
and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and
all things; who shall come down among the children of men. And it came to pass that after they had
spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were
filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having
peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus
Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had
spoken unto them." (Mosiah 4:2-3)
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ATTITUDES OF THE SINFUL WOMAN AND SIMON
The Sinful Woman
Simon the Pharisee
No desire to change
Lack of courtesy
HOW DO THE QUALITIES THAT SIMON POSSESSED KEEP US FROM REPENTING?
HOW WOULD SIMON'S ATTITUDE TOWARD THE WOMAN HAVE MADE HER BURDEN SEEM HEAVIER?
HOW MIGHT WE MAKE ANOTHER PERSON'S BURDEN OF SIN SEEM HEAVIER?
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE SAVIOR'S RESPONSE TO THE WOMAN?
The woman risked mistreatment by coming into the home of Simon, a Pharisee.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE WOMAN ABOUT OVERCOMING OBSTACLES THAT MAY KEEP
US FROM REPENTING?
WHAT OBSTACLES MIGHT KEEP US FROM REPENTING AND COMING UNTO CHRIST? HOW
CAN WE OVERCOME THEM?
HOW DO YOU THINK THE WOMAN FELT WHEN THE SAVIOR SAID, "THY FAITH HATH
SAVED THEE; GO IN PEACE"?
She learned in reality what the Master previously taught in
She was laden with a heavy burden, the burden of sin. She had labored with
the consequences of that sin. I am sure she felt darkness of soul. She had a reputation
that was common knowledge throughout the village. She came to the Master in
humility and faith. She found the "rest" of which he had spoken. Like Alma,
she probably felt to exclaim, "Yea, I say unto you...that there could
be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again
I say unto you...that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite
and sweet as was my joy" (Alma 36:21).
We, too, no matter the size of our sins, can feel this joy if we will humble
ourselves and come to the Lord in a spirit of sincere repentance.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
We have a choice: We may carry the burdens of the world or we can take
upon us the yoke of Christ. Will we be like Simon and remain under the heavy
burden of sin or will we be like the sinful woman and repent of our sins and
take on the yoke of Christ? How we choose determines our happiness in this
life and our destiny in the next.
Record your thoughts on the yoke which the Lord has asked us to bear. What
does it mean in your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts.
Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith.
The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Volume
2, by Bruce R. McConkie.
The Way To Perfection by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
28 January 2015