‘Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’
In the world of first-century Palestinian Judaism, young men achieved status and fame by becoming 'yoked' to the best rabbis. Only the best were accepted, the rest rejected to the lowly vocation of their fathers. Jesus of Nazareth subverted the rules by himself pursuing a small group left behind by society: the marginalized and scandalized, the fishermen, tax-collectors and zealots. These 'disciples' left their nets behind to fish for others who risked social non-conformity to an alternative lifestyle of unarmed truth and unconditional love. They yoked themselves to Master Jesus, whose life, service, teaching, death and resurrection became the paradigm for small clusters of men and women all over the Roman Empire. To take on Jesus' yoke was to pledge allegiance to a morally courageous, thought provoking and prophetic denunciation of the status quo of empire. After all, they were convinced that Jesus was Lord...and Caesar was not.