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Reveal to Infants | Matthew 11

Take by force in a positive way all the things of Christ

This week, we study Matthew chapter 11. Let’s dig in!

Listen along to the episode here or on your favorite podcast app

This chapter of Matthew is hard.  I had to get out ALL the translations, commentaries, and text all my pastors and smart friends.  Each avenue taught me something new.  I love a productive rabbit hole. 

John the Baptist makes a reappearance.  I missed the reassuring nugget here.  Glad for commentaries that pointed it out.  John is in prison and he has some doubts and he wants some affirmation about who Jesus is.  If John the Baptist had some questions then I should feel perfectly okay about having my own.  Look, even prophets have doubts!  He asks his followers to go ask Jesus if he is who John thought he was.  Remember, he was convinced when he was baptizing him.  He saw the dove and heard God’s voice from heaven.  Clearly, things weren’t as John was expecting them to be.  Doesn’t it feel good to know that it isn’t just us when things get tough or don’t go as planned or imagined-especially if we are trusting God- that thinks maybe I heard wrong or have gotten confused along the way. 

Jesus doesn’t get mad either.  He isn’t irritated or disappointed to have to confirm who he is.  In fact, as John’s friends leave he turns to the crowd and says there is no one like John.  And this is where my confusion began. It is so hard to know what Jesus is talking about in the next chunk of verses.  Jesus is bragging on John.  Then he says in verse 12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” What is Jesus talking about?  Have y’all seen any violence or taking of the kingdom of heaven since we read about John in chapter 3?  I happened to see a note in the Passion Translation that mentioned the Greek word used here.  Then I smacked my forehead and muttered of course I need to do a word study. Off to BibleHub.com to see what I can learn.

  • suffers violence e-biazó- to use power to forcibly seize, laying hold of something with positive aggressiveness, a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought for with the most ardent zeal and the intense exertion (this word is only used in the New Testament here and in Luke 16:16)

 

Well, that makes a difference. Positive aggressiveness.  Folks going after the kingdom of heaven like this is a good thing. 

  • violent men-biastés-positive assertiveness; used of the believer living in faith (God’s inworked persuasions) guiding and empowering them to act forcefully- i.e. ‘’fired up’ by God to act by his revelation

who strive to obtain its (heaven) privileges with the utmost eagerness and effort (this word is only used here)

The plot thickens.  Using positive aggressiveness to go after heaven because you are fired up by God.

  • take by force-harpazó-seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively-like someone seizing bounty; to take by an open display of force, to seize on, claim for oneself eagerly

Using positive aggressiveness to go after heaven because you are fired up by God and you are claiming it eagerly.  Snatching heaven and all its glories for all to see.  Now this passage reads a bit different.  This reminds me of what Paul says in Philippians 3:12-16:

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of Christ Jesus.  Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, god will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

Paul was telling the Philippians to take by force in a positive way all the things of Christ.  To keep working at it.  I love that he explains that this isn’t an easy journey to make.  That you have to stick to it. 

Jesus says all this then he says that people are like fussy children.  They aren’t happy with anything.  It’s like begging for something and then not liking it when you get it.  Tony Evans sums it up like this, “Your ability to apply spiritual truth will be demonstrated by what you do.”

The folks that had seen all the miracles weren’t changing their lives.  They weren’t going after the kingdom.  They saw for themselves what Jesus could do, a taste of who he was, and they might have been awed at the time, but it didn’t move them to make permanent change.  Especially the religious leaders.  He then prays and thanks God for revealing these mysteries not to the intelligent and the wise (like the leaders), but to those like infants.  And he tells the crowd to “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-ladden”.  That’s the bit we know from Matthew 11, right?  Just the last 3 verses.  But doesn’t it really fit with all that he has said? 

Studying the Bible can be hard and confusing sometimes.  I had to fight for this understanding of Matthew 11.  I kept at it though.  Each person/place I tried led me somewhere else until I finally was able to draw a connection and make it make sense.  I had to take it by force.  I could have skipped on over to the last 3 verses.  I knew what that part meant.  I have heard it before.  I have never heard the rest of the chapter preached about…and I get why.  All this to say, if you are eager, if you are seeking revelation will come.

You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

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