Matthew 11:29 (New Jerusalem Bible)
A yoke directs an ox’s energy towards an externally identified task, joining its effort to its driver’s direction. The ox contributes the strength; the driver directs that strength to a particular purpose and together they accomplish more than either could on their own.
By asking us to shoulder His yoke, Jesus is asking us to contribute our energy to His purposes. We aren’t simply being asked just to submit to God’s control (although that is an essential part of it), but also to actively work towards, expend our effort on, whatever tasks God has for us. Jesus teaches more than passive submission; He exhorts us to affirmative effort directed at the specific tasks He chooses for each of us.
That has wonderful results. By actively combining our effort with God’s control we achieve much more than we ever could on our own. And although the Kingdom will go forward with or without our effort, it is further ahead because of our own contributions.
Jesus not only taught that dynamic, he modeled it. His total submission to the Father’s will involved strenuous effort on his part. Rather than being a passive expositor, waiting for people to come to Him, He walked miles and miles to spread the gospel, and endured the press of many crowds. And that effort was all expended in accordance with God’s direction; Jesus actively diverted from His immediate plans went to meet folks where they were, and ultimately had to make that hard climb to Jerusalem and Golgotha, all in accordance with the Father’s plan. The result was far more than one man could accomplish on his own, but it could not have occurred without that man’s active contribution.
If we “learn from [Him],” we’ll contribute our effort to what He’s called us to, whatever that may be, and if we are faithful to His direction, we'll see results far beyond our own capabilities.