The kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force.
Matthew 11:7-30 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
As these disciples of John were going away, Jesus began speaking to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! 9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written:
‘Behold, I am sending My messenger ahead
Who will prepare Your way before You.’
11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 15 The one who has ears to hear, let him hear.
16 “But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call out to the other children, 17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a song of mourning, and you did not mourn.’ 18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a heavy drinker, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ And yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
20 Then He began to reprimand the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will be brought down to Hades! For if the miracles that occurred in you had occurred in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment, than for you.”
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants. 26 Yes, Father, for this way was well pleasing in Your sight. 27 All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son determines to reveal Him.
28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 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. 30 For My yoke is comfortable, and My burden is light.”
Today’s text contains one of many paradoxes in scripture regarding the kingdom of heaven. These are not contradictions, but rather they reveal opposite sides of the truth of the kingdom. Jesus says: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force.” We see in our day that surely the kingdom of heaven is treated violently. We see God and His word not only mocked and criticized, but actually canceled by the current “cancel culture.” Evil and immorality are glorified, while righteousness and holiness are condemned. We, as believers have been given all the promises of God. Ephesians 1:3 says: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. We often need though to fight for what we have in the kingdom here on earth. In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.” Evil people, in this evil culture will try to withhold, steal kill and destroy what God has given us. We need to take by force, in the name of Jesus, the abundant life He came to give us.
Conversely, Jesus also says: “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, 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 comfortable, and My burden is light.” Even though we need to fight in the natural realm for all that Jesus has given us, in the spiritual realm, it is already our in Him. In John 19:30, when Jesus was on the cross, He said: “It is finished!” He has fully accomplished all that He came to give us and do for us. It is finished in the eternal heavenly realm. We can rest in Him knowing not only will He do what we ask, but that He has already done all that we need. Jesus taught us to pray saying: ‘Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven…’ The only struggle we have is to see things from heaven’s perspective, to see the eternal realities of heaven manifested here and now on earth. In John 16:33 Jesus says: “These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Yoked to Christ, we can have confidence and rest in the finished work of the cross. We can overcome the world and walk in the realities of heaven here on earth.
Ephesians 6:12-18 says: Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having belted your waist with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having strapped on your feet the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit. Amen.
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.