Sunday, March 28, 2021
One of the most challenging verses to be found in the New Testament is in Matthew 11:12: “And from the day of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.” Here Jesus asserts the violence of the kingdom.
The unique grammatical construction of the text does not make clear if the kingdom of God is the victim of violence or if, as the kingdom advances in victory, it does so through violent spiritual conflict and warfare. But the context does!
Jesus references to the nonreligious style of John and the confrontive, miraculous ministry of Elijah teaches that the kingdom of God makes its penetration by a kind of violent entry opposing the human status quo. This refuses to dance to the music of society’s expectation that the religious community provide either through entertainment or dead traditionalism.
Jesus defines the violence of His kingdom’s expansion by defining the sword and fire He has brought as different from the battle techniques of political or military warfare. The upheaval caused by the kingdom of God is not caused by political provocation or armed advance. It is the result of God’s order shaking relationships, households, cities, and actions by the entry of the Holy Spirit’s power working in people. Which Zechariah 4:6 brings to our attention? “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord of host.'”
You are loved, Pastor Don