In Jesus’ opinion the kingdom of heaven is a dynamic, life changing, ever growing reality.
In the previous post we started talking about Matthew 11:12 which states, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”
We’re trying to understand better what that verse means.
We discussed Micah 2:12-13 and how Jesus is likely referencing those verses (See previous post). We’re learning that a better translation of Jesus word’s would probably be “… the Kingdom of heaven breaks forth…”
Now let’s move on to the second half of Jesus’ words, “violent men take it by force.”
If we keep in mind the picture of sheep breaking out of a sheep pen in their early morning excitement and hunger, we might get a better idea of the intensity of Jesus’ words. The sheep have likely eaten all the grass in their little pen. There is nothing left. They’ve slept and been refreshed. Now, they’re hungry and looking around at all the food outside their pen. Not to mention they’re thirsty and want water. They don’t want to wait and they definitely don’t line up in an orderly manner to leave the pen. They’re pushing, jostling, and running into each other as they actively push to get out of their pen and get to food.
A better translation to give the right picture would probably be – “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven breaks forth, and those breaking forth are pursuing it.” Because, the ones breaking out “are actively pursuing the divine purpose in life with all their strength.”(1) Like sheep actively pushing to get out of the sheep pen.
Mankind was still locked up in the kingdom of darkness. God had blessed Israel by giving them the Torah – His teaching and instructions, telling them how to live, how to find life. But they were unable to follow it completely – as God already knew. Failures were constant, both as a nation and as individuals. The people still belonged to the kingdom of darkness, although part of the people of God.
Sin and death still reigned over God’s beloved nation.
But starting with John the Baptist, God began to set His people free. To take them out of the Kingdom of sin and death, and bring them into His kingdom, the Kingdom of His Beloved Son.
And some people responded explosively. They were like sheep exploding out of their make-shift pen, as these men and women exploded out of the kingdom of darkness, away from the sin and death that had bound them. These people repented of their sins and chose to walk faithful before their God.
They were finally free.
And nothing was going to hold them back from following after their King.
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven breaks forth, and those breaking forth are pursuing it.”
“The ones breaking forth with the kingdom of heaven pursue the principles of God’s reign with all their might. They possess an intensity for the work of the Lord. The rule of God is sought in every part of their lives. They become subjects of the King, accepting the yoke of the kingdom of heaven and seeking to see the redeeming power of healing love penetrate a world full of people in need of God.”(2)
The kingdom of heaven is powerful, exciting, dynamic and unstoppable. Like a little yeast in an enormous amount of dough, like a little seed being planted that becomes a huge tree.
This is what Jesus is talking about, not violence but the explosive power of the kingdom of God.
He’s naming John the Baptist as the Breaker, the one who came before and opened the breach.
He’s acknowledging His own Kingship and the intensity of His disciples in pursuing the Kingdom.
Believer, your whole life is to be wrapped up in this, like a merchant looking for fine pearls and when he finds the one he wants, sells everything he owns to buy it. Or the man who finds a treasure in a field and again sells everything he has to buy that field.
Everything you are and have belongs to the King who has set you free.
1 – Young, Brad. Jesus the Jewish Theologian, 55.
2 – Young, Brad. Jesus the Jewish Theologian, 55.