Paul encouraged us to not stray from the simplicity that is found in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
His thought was, well… we tend to make things infinitely more complex. We tend to move towards complex religious systems.
Jesus, on the other hand, came to make things easy.
Moses received the Law- ten commandments which, in Hebrew, were expressed using only ten words (they have a far more economical language than we do).
613 more laws were then added to explain what those ten words meant. They had moral laws, civil laws, and religious laws.
You’d think that would be enough, but no… well intended leaders created the Mishnah, the oral tradition built around the laws, to explain what each one meant…
That wasn’t enough, either. Enter, the Talmud.
Then the legal comments added by scribes and lawyers (and their “fences” and “hedges” around the law).
People went from—
👉 10 words
👉 to 613 laws to explain those 10 words
👉 to the Talmud, an oral tradition AROUND those laws
👉 to the Mishnah, written legal comments to explain the traditions
👉 to rabbinical explanations of “binding” (forbidding) and “loosing” (allowing) things
Jesus drops into this tradition of the rabbis, and picks up some of their practices- So, we see Jesus do things like:
✅ Binding and loosing (and passing the same power to His disciples)
✅ “You’ve heard it said… but I say…” (the “go to” formula rabbis used to compare and contrast their positions on matters
✅ Fulfilling Torah, that is, showing the essence / heart of it (Matthew 5:17-20)
A rabbi’s system of thought was known as a “yoke.”
Jesus came with a simple, though (read Matthew 11:28-30) NOT a yoke that bound people with a heavy burden (see Matthew 23:4).
(He told them that whatever they bound would be bound and whatever they loosed would be loosed— in Matthew 16:19.)
We see His disciples make the yoke lighter in Acts 15 (see 15:8-11,28-29) and in Galatians (see 5:1).
Even during one of His first miracle stints, the people used the “Sabbath” to keep people away from God, who— oddly enough— stood right before them.
This is why, even after He healed Peter’s mother-in-law, the people stayed in their homes until sundown (Matthew 8:16).
Obviously, from His story, the Sabbath— then word they turned into 613 which morphed into so much more— wasn’t a barrier for Jesus…
If religion is weighing you down, it’s not the yoke of Jesus, for sure… because Jesus came to make it simple, easy (Matthew 11:28-30)…
Life is tough.
We’re promised that in this world we’ll have trouble (John 16:33).
That’s why we need to bear one another’s burdens and make it easier….
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