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We have a rather dull way of identifying our years. We assign them numbers. This is year number 2020. The Chinese not only assign numbers to the years, but they give the years names that will characterize them. For instance, the year may be the year of the tiger or the year of the dog.

While we identify our years by numbers, maybe we could also give them special designations. Maybe we could call this year “The year of the Yoke.” Jesus said, “Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). When you step into the yoke with Jesus, He shares your load. You don’t have to bear it by yourself.

In addition to that, the figure of taking someone’s yoke upon you was a widely used figure of speech in Jesus’s day. It was used of a person who came to be a student of a teacher. It was said that the student took upon himself the yoke of the teacher. Jesus reinforced that meaning when He added, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me.” For us, this year can be a year of growth and learning about Christ. Make a resolution to read a passage of Scripture every day. Read a book that challenges you to learn new things about your faith. This year can be “The Year of the Yoke.”

When Jesus was sharing the Passover meal and Last Supper with His disciples, He took upon Himself the role of a servant. “He took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that he had wrapped around him” (John 13:4-5). Maybe we could make this “The Year of the Towel.” We could find fresh ways to serve others. Instead of wanting to be served, we could be servants to people around us.

Jesus ended His life by dying upon a cross. Before He got to that cross, He challenged His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Crosses are found all around us. They often are mounted on church steeples and hang on necklaces. In Jesus’s day, they were reminders of death and self-denial. We are challenged in this new year to be identified with Christ – to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him. As we begin the new year, “2020,” we can also make it “The Year of the Cross.”

Lynn Jones is a retired pastor, supply preacher and author who lives in Oxford. He can be reached at kljones45@yahoo.com.

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