Vol.XII No.IX Pg.7
November 1975

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

What is meant by Jesus statement: the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force? Matt. 11:12) Tennessee


My brother and I know everything, but this is one of the things that he knows — I hope. Ill try to help you.

Two other related passages are: Lu. 16:16 . .every man (all, in metaphorical sense) presseth into it or entereth violently into it; and Jn. 6:15 Jesus perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. The relation of the passages has a certain obviousness in English, and in Greek this is enhanced by common terminology.

Johns record shows that Jesus did not approve whatever it was that was taking place — and I believe there are two reasons for this disapproval; the Jews misconception of the nature of the kingdom, and their efforts to establish a kingdom by the wrong tactics. Luke puts the statement in the midst of teachings to covetous, selfish Pharisees. Matthew puts it following an upbraiding of people who refused to see the true significance of the work of John the Baptist; and follows it with Jesus thanks to the Father that although wise and prudent had not understood him, babes (those who loved heavenly things more than earthly power and wealth) understood his teaching.

The Roman occupation of Jewish territory in the time of Christ was but one of many such periods. Leaning on a materialistic interpretation of the O.T. prophecies, the Jews looked for a deliverer or national leader who would arise to restore independence. They foolishly followed false prophets who claimed such a position (Acts 5:35-39 Matt. 24:23-24).

Jn. 6:14 reads Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that Prophet that should come into the world. It was then they sought to take him by force and make him a king. It seems obvious to me that the motives were wrong (loaves and fishes) as well as their understanding of the nature of His kingdom. I am reminded of some today who rush into the kingdom (so far as externals are concerned) under the influence of a big CAMPAIGN FOR CHRIST. They rally to the BIG thing, the SPLASH, the emotional impact of high-pressure salesmanship. But the understanding (Mk. 12:34) and inner change (Jn. 3:3,5) essential to genuine participation in Christs kingdom is missing. The kingdom cometh not with observation but is within you (Lu. 17:20-21).

Take it by force indicates only what. they sought to do, not what actually took place. Jesus was not deceived by the triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Jn. 12:12-f), and though the Pharisees said the world is gone after him (v. 19), Jesus knew he was coming to the cross (v.32-33). Today violent men roar and toot their horns to take the world for Christ: but the Christ of the New Testament slips away from such. He is quietly at work in humble, sincere hearts.