Pastor Ron Musch
Lighthouse Regional Church
Matthew 11:12-13 And from the time John the Baptist began preaching and baptizing until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it. For before John came, all the teachings of the Scriptures looked forward to this present time.
Bible translators have difficulty with the unusual grammatical ambiguity of this passage. It is hard to know if the violence is happening to the Kingdom, or if the Kingdom is the one being violent. Thus this passage has tragically been misunderstood in history to advocate human force. However, the contexts of this passage and of its parallel in Luke 16:16 make it clear that human force will never advance the Kingdom. So what did Jesus mean?
While Jesus DOES call His people to transform every realm of society, including the military and government, the Kingdom does NOT advance through military violence or political force. The Kingdom of Heaven is a supernatural force that has overcome the demonic realm, disease, the disorder of our world, and even death. The Kingdom of Heaven is forcibly breaking into our decaying world in an ever-increasing, ever-advancing, life-giving way. Jesus is consistent with this perspective when He said greater works than these shall you do (John 14:12). The Kingdom and the people of the Kingdom are always advancing and increasing in the good purposes of the King. The Kingdom cannot be contained, tamed, trained or stopped.
This leads us to the human response to the Kingdom. Throughout history there has always been human opposition to the Kingdom. However, the translation “violent people are attacking it” is better translated as “the strong are eagerly claiming it as their own.” This agrees with Luke 16:16 which says “everyone is forcefully pressing into it.” Jesus calls us to respond to the advance of His Kingdom. That call is not one in which we can remain neutral or passive. It requires that we respond with passion, with sacrifice, with commitment. When you do, then you will encounter the King and His Kingdom…and you and your world will be changed forever.
Prayer: Jesus, root out any passivity and increase in me a passionate pursuit of you. I eagerly desire and need the advance of Your Kingdom in and through my life. Thank you.