Father, You have prepared The Way for me to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! May I seek You and understand Your scriptures.
May Your word be a light to guide me and may I run whole-heartedly toward You!
Series Focus: “Thy Kingdom Come”
Have you ever been to a sold-out concert or event without designated seating? Maybe you’ve gone shopping on the day after Thanksgiving, lined up with the multitudes, and waited outside the store for that once in a lifetime deal. When the doors open, WHOOSH—here comes the flood! If you have experienced one of these situations, chances are you have been pressed up against, forced to push your way in (or out), and felt your adrenalin rushing! Did that feeling energize you; did it frighten you? If you had the chance to do it again, would you? Was the final bounty, in this case the seat or the bargain, all it was hyped up to be? I say, let’s make sure the prize is worth our zeal or risk before we go chasing it.
A few weeks ago, Maryann introduced John the Baptist in her post titled, “Against the Grain.” In Malachi 4:5, John, was prophesied to be the prophet that would prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ, The Messiah. John would be, an “Elijah like” prophet, the messenger of the coming Lord.
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.”
This long awaited, deeply desired Savior of Israel would be the sacred reward. Yet, as Maryann shared, He wouldn’t “look” like the Messiah they had been waiting to see. John preached about repentance and forgiveness of sins. He baptized many, even those who none thought would ever repent. Tax collectors, prostitutes, and even Roman soldiers were part of the crowd gathered to hear him preach about the One who was to come. The One who would fulfill the law and bear our transgressions. And John, from the place in the wilderness, would baptize this Messiah, Jesus, right in front of their eyes. Jesus recognized John as a great prophet:
“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence,and the violent take it by force.” For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:11-15 ESV)
What did Jesus mean that ‘the Kingdom of Heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force’? Let’s look at one additional bible translation of this verse:
“I tell you the truth, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John the Baptist. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than he is! And from the time John the Baptist began preaching until now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people are attacking it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 11:11-15 NIV)
Jesus says that until now the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing. Multitudes followed the ministry of John the Baptist, and then multitudes followed the ministry of Jesus. These crowds were so excited, so overwhelmed with desire to be in God’s kingdom that nothing would stop them from rushing in! There were those who defiantly opposed the teachings of John and Jesus, but no matter how they tried to end their ministry—even through force—they could not. Even with all the scriptures of prophecy that came before Jesus, many would not recognize Him as Savior. Every single prophesy was complete including the one where Jesus suffers on the cross. That one was for you.
I am so grateful we don’t have to force our way into the Kingdom. No crowds to fight, no games to play, no pushing, no shoving—just one decision. One decision that adds us to His flock. Only believe. Jesus came to fulfill what His Father had ordained. John prepared the way for Christ, and Christ prepared the way for us. Now He prepares a place in eternity for those who believe and follow Him. This reward is a great reason to get excited and overjoyed. Let’s live the Kingdom of God everyday—as we love and serve Him and others. Sisters, I pray you would run with abandon into His arms!
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Malachi 4:5; Matthew 11:11-15; Luke 5:5, 12:1, 16:16; John 14:2, 6