24. The Kingdom of Heaven Which Suffers Violence

(Matthew11:12, 24-30)
“From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it (v. 12 NIV).” "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force (v. 12 NASB).”
24. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you. 25. At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned and revealed them to little children. 26. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. 27. “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28. “Come to me, all you 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 easy and my burden is light.”

The Kingdom of Heaven Which Suffers Violence

In Chapter 10, Jesus chose twelve disciples and gave them the power to do what He had been doing. Then, as He sent them out into the world to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, Jesus warned His disciples that they would be hated and persecuted because of Him when they preach in this world (10:16-23). He told them to be afraid of God, rather than of men, and to take their own cross and follow Him. He also said that whoever loses his life for His sake would find it (10:28-39).

In Chapter 11, John the Baptist asked who Jesus was (vv. 2-6) and Jesus spoke to the crowd about who John the Baptist was (vv. 7-15). While discussing John’s imprisonment, He said, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force (v. 12 NASB)”

The dictionary definition of “violence” in Korean is “forceful and unlawful invasion into another country.” (The legal definition is “the unlawful exercise of physical force or intimidation by the exhibition of such force.”) In other words, the Kingdom of Heaven had suffered violence by the force of the world. John asked Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” He did because the world was still powerful, and Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven seemed so insignificant.

Some interpreted this remark of Jesus as “The Kingdom of Heaven is for those who actively sought after it.” However, this interpretation only reinforced the legalistic idea that man’s will power is a key factor to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven is the Kingdom of the Poor. However, people misunderstood Jesus and thought they could take the Kingdom of Heaven by force. The Kingdom of God is “Not (a country) by might nor by power” (Zech. 4:6). Since they thought it can be taken by might and power, violence was exercised even inside Christianity.

Violent Men

Who are the violent men and the ones who want to take the Kingdom of Heaven by force? Jesus spoke about John the Baptist and asked, “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?.... A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings' palaces.” Primarily, His description seemed to indicate King Herod. However, it is a common nature of all human beings who left God to try to take the Kingdom of Heaven by force.

One characteristic of man who wants to become godlike after eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is that he always tries to get what he wants by his power. This is why people wish to become giants—the Nephilim. Power enables man to fulfill his desires in his own way. Anything taken by force is not God’s Kingdom but my kingdom. Ismael, the son by Abraham’s strength couldn’t become the heir but Isaac, the son by God’s grace alone, could.

Revealing to Little Children

Jesus is the descendant of a woman. Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and the wife of Uriah---these women couldn’t live before the judgment of good and evil. In Matthew, Jesus cherished and showed compassion toward “the poor in spirit (5:3)”, “little ones (10:42)”, and “little children (11:25)”. In answering John the Baptist’s question, Jesus said, “The good news is preached to the poor.” These people are powerless and weak before the world, yet the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.

The poor and the little ones have been ignored and persecuted in the world. John the Baptist was imprisoned. Those who were called after him were also warned of sufferings and death. People were not interested in this heaven (ref. 11:17) and didn’t repent even though they had experienced His power and listened to His words (ref. 11:20-24). The Kingdom of Heaven was ruled by “the lamb who was slain” (Rev. 5:6). The people of the Kingdom of Heaven are easily ignored and stepped on by the world. Yet, Jesus said, the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven was revealed to little children, people like them (v. 25). The blessing of man’s true being which is manifesting the righteousness, life and nature of God can be revealed through the poor.

Taking Away Our Trouble and Heavy Burden

The gospel brings us back to the original position where God created us and put us on. There, we can give up old habits of trying to do things by our own power and for our own sake. The yoke of the Lord is easy and light. If we carry the yoke of Jesus, we won’t try to have our own way. Rather, we will leave everything with the Lord and be led by Him. In Jesus who was crucified, all our wearies will disappear and we will find rest.

The Lord called us who are the poor, the little ones, the lambs, and the little children. Since we are little ones, we can’t harm anyone. Since we are poor, we can’t judge anyone. We are grateful to the Lord for leaving only His Kingdom and His righteousness in us.