“And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force” Mathew 11:12
This verse of the bible seems difficult to comprehend but the Holy Spirit is the great interpreter. It tells us that the Kingdom of heaven suffereth violence. At first sight, it seems like certain people are violently suppressing the Kingdom of God, and later the violent ones take the Kingdom of God, but it is not so.
Another likewise bible verse can be misinterpreted: “The law and the prophets were until John. Since that time, the Kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is pressing into it” Luke 16:16.
This passage has been quoted several times and interpreted in various ways. People sometimes give it a negative connotation, implying that the Kingdom of heaven is in jeopardy. Isn’t it true, after all, that the Kingdom of heaven is subject to violence? The term “violence” has a negative connotation. According to the negative interpretation, the Kingdom of heaven is at the mercy of violent individuals who seized it by force. If the Kingdom of heaven is in jeopardy, those looking forward to it may lose hope.
According to Matthew 11, after commanding his twelve disciples, Jesus travelled to teach and preach in cities. After hearing of Jesus’ works, John, who had been imprisoned, sent two of his disciples to Jesus. When they arrived at Jesus, they inquired if he was the one who would come or if they should expect someone else.
Jesus’ mission was expanding, and word of His works was swiftly spreading. This information reaches John the Baptist, who is currently imprisoned. John who has been working tirelessly to pave way for messiah. As a result, when he heard about Jesus’ fame, he wanted to know if he was the anticipated Messiah.
In the first century, there were a lot of debate over how the Messiah was going to look like and what he was supposed to do. Although John recognized Jesus as the Messiah, but the test of faith got him confused while in prison. Because of the activities of corrupt religious leaders and sinful rulers, John the Baptist was imprisoned – this got him bewildered, baffled, disoriented, and discouraged. He wondered if his services and mission were all in vain; or wanted to be sure if he made a mistake or if his zeal was towards the wrong direction. Was there anyone else there? Why wasn’t Jesus doing what he had anticipated of Him? He dedicated his life to being the herald, sacrificing everything he knew, including friends, family, status, and comfort, to deliver the word as sent by God. He is now on a dirt floor, awaiting his eventual death for the cause of Christ. He dispatches two of his pupils to ensure that his efforts were not in vain and that what he has done was worthwhile.
The blind regained their sight, the lepers were healed, the deaf could hear, the dead were brought back to life, and the words of hope were preached to the impoverished. Jesus urged them to go and show John what they had heard and seen.
Both John and his disciples needed assurance that Jesus was the Messiah. But He also warned them that His power would often manifest in small acts of kindness, addressing individual needs rather than in grand displays of political deliverance.
Jesus was well aware that the thrust of His ministry was in direct opposition to the Jewish people’s desire for political liberation from Roman dominance. But there were more benefits for those who believe in him.
Jesus confirmed that John was God’s appointed herald of the Messiah, not a man-pleaser or a self-pleaser. He was more than a prophet since he was the only one who could serve as the Messiah’s herald. John was the greatest of prophets and the greatest of men.
We might feel that the doubt that John had about Jesus was un-called-for, but Jesus spoke favourably of him. John, he remarked, was steady, not readily shaken like a reed. John was sober because he led a disciplined life and was not enamored by the world’s luxuries and comforts. John was a servant of God and a prophet. As the Lord’s special envoy, John was dispatched. John was unique in that he may be regarded as the greatest of the Old Covenant prophets.
Despite his greatness, John was not reborn under the New Covenant. He lived and died before Jesus’ work at the cross, and the empty tomb was completed. As a result, he was denied the advantages of the New Covenant.
Jesus referred to the intensity of spiritual warfare around himself and His herald’s mission and the intensity required continuing following God and His kingdom.
With John, Jesus saw an age come to an end; all the prophets and the law foreshadowed John and his role as herald. John spoke for all the prophets who foretold Jesus’ arrival in some way. Jesus was thinking about the nature of His current generation and how picky and unsure people were about receiving God’s word and His messengers. According to theologians, it was said that those who desire to criticize will find something to criticize.
Jesus was thinking about the nature of His time and how picky and unsure people were about receiving God’s word and His messengers. Those who desire to criticize will find something to criticize.
The word of God does not condemn us but rather it hits hard on our sins. Jesus can only be a friend of the sinner only if the sinner is willing and ready to surrender and forsake his or her sins. On the other hand, the wise guy is proven wise by his sensible deeds. The wisdom to embrace both Jesus and John for who they were and what they were called to be was something Jesus had in mind.
Although some may criticize John but let us consider what he accomplished: he brought thousands of people to repentance, paving the path for the Messiah. People may criticize Jesus but let us consider what He accomplished: He taught, worked, loved, and died like no one else.
To be continued……