Law & Grace
The Free Gift
My Yoke Is Easy

Do you remember reading where Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light?"  So, why does following the Lord feel so heavy sometimes?What is the root in Christianity that sometimes makes us feel the struggle and not the joy?I would like to put forth a few thoughts for your consideration. I hope this commentary will shed some light on the subject.

The reason Jesus had such a hard time with the religious teachers of his time was because they deeply believed the way back to God was by the keeping the Law of God that Moses had given them.  I can imagine them saying something like this behind the back of Jesus,"How dare he tell us not to keep the Law of Moses!  "But we understand that Jesus was far from teaching them not to obey the law.  In fact, Jesus was a teacher of the law.  He was pointing to the deeper meanings of the law that they had twisted and bent to fit there own life styles and customs of their time.  Jesus was trying to show them where they had missed what God had been telling them all along.  Let me show you.

I want to look at two stories, one in the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.  The message of Jesus is no more difficult to understand than this.  Moses delivered unto the people of Israel what God required.  Jesus on the other hand, delivered to the people the "Way" to meet what the Law of Moses required.  The "Way" of Jesus is not finding some "way" in the law.  The "Way" is not going to be established in our lives by trying to find a "way" by achievement.

In this first story, from Genesis, chapter 4, we find the two brothers, Cain and Able.  Please allow me for the sake of discussion, to assign the word LAW for Cain and the word GRACE for the word Able.  So we don't interpret or understand the word LAW as something evil, which it is not, let us say that law here is the feeling of measuring up to God so he will accept us.  The term LAW carries the load of believing that God expects me to "Do" something before I can experience the righteousness, peace and joy of his Kingdom.

Cain and Able
"In the course of time Cain (LAW) brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.  But Abel (GRACE) brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel (GRACE) and his offering, but on Cain (LAW) and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain (LAW) was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain (LAW), "Why are you angry?Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

I can see Cain (LAW) running around picking berries, nuts, and grain.  Sweating from all his labor to please God and very angry with his brother.  Cain (LAW) was working extremely hard being careful to do everything just right.  And all the while watching his brother Abel (GRACE) doing nothing but to kill the first animal he saw.  Then Abel (GRACE) in just a few minutes has his offering finished ready to be offered.

Here is why Cain's (LAW) yoke was so hard to bear.  It is not what was given that displeased God but it was in the unseen.  We must worship God in spirit and truth.  God will never receive our worship in good deeds and kindness.  The Spirit of God gave the offering of Abel (GRACE) but Satan in the unseen gave the offering of Cain (LAW). God can only accept what is given by Christ.  Abel (GRACE) lived in the "my yoke is easy" realm."  He lived in the Spirit-consciousness of his life. Cain (LAW) lived in the self-consciousness of his life.(Eph 2.1-3) As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.

It is little wonder why Cain found it so hard to walk with God.  He was trying to live by self-effort and not by God's grace.
I would like to illustrate this thought of LAW and GRACE again only this time from the New Testament.  I will use the story of two women who lived at the time of Jesus.  As in the first story with Cain and Able, let us assign to their names the attachment of LAW and GRACE.  The story is about Mary and Martha from Luke 10.38.

Mary and Martha

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha (LAW) opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary (GRACE), who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha (LAW) was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister, Mary (GRACE) has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!  "Martha (LAW), Martha (LAW)," the Lord answered, "you are
worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary (GRACE) has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

I can see Martha (LAW) in the kitchen sweating over the turkey, potatoes and ham.  Well, maybe not ham. She was worrying about not wanting to burn the food by over cooking it. She was trying so hard to make all things just right for her most honored guest.  She was doing all she could do.  Without question, all she did was from a heart of love for her family and her special guest.  So, why was she so angry with her sister, Mary (GRACE)?

Mary (GRACE) on the other hand sat at the feet of Jesus.  She listened intently and hung on every word. In fact, Mary (GRACE) did nothing to help her sister, she just sat and listened and received from Jesus.
Mary (GRACE) had found the answers to all her problems.
Mary (GRACE) had found the "Way".

Nothing to Mary (GRACE) was as important as the words of Jesus.  How she must have thought to herself, "His words are Spirit and they give life; the flesh must count for nothing.  She remembered Jesus saying something like this days before.  This had to be what he meant.

Jesus said, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they toil not, neither do they spin." (Mat. 6:28)
Did you see that?Jesus said they "toil not."  So too, just like the lily we will grow if we toil not.  Mary listened to Jesus and when we listen to Jesus the work is automatic and effortless - it is wonderful. Nothing is hard for Spirit - the work is as easy and effortless as breathing.  Everything we "do" for God is effortless because he is doing the work.

(Gal. 2.20) I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Resting in His grace,
Bob Coker