Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. Luke 16:14-18 and Mt. 11:12 Jim I was reading you sermon on the mount stuff...what i hear you saying is that the pharisees were jumping on the kingdom bandwagon and trying to do things their own way....by "forcing his own way." Could you expound on this a little more. I've always found this particular scripture difficult...cause the teachings i've read in the past are all about the believer having to do something to exercise their faith and get what they believe is God's will. I've always struggled in my faith...is it real...if my faith is from God I don't have to do anything but believe....Jesus is enough...But being one of those double minded types, falling into sin, not understanding the work of the HS, etc....who wants to be sure I'm really saved and doing God's will I've gone down this road thinking I've got to do something to please God or prove my faith....what a vicious never ending cycle that is. In the last few years I'm just believing that Jesus is enough....I don't have to do anything to please God or prove my faith...It is very scary at times, especially when you run into those with their seven confessions of faith type...but I do see some very positive changes in my life...by just believing in Jesus. I've also been reading a lot of your stuff lately and it's been very encouraging...although not easily remembered....I've not been very good at understanding things in context or remembering much of anything...so believing in Jesus is my only hope and the only thing I remember in times of trouble. Cris
Hello Cris! Good to hear from you. :) Yes, I understand the sense of difficulty in these verses, for I can remember my own past confusion regarding many of the verses in the Gospel accounts. Years ago, I began referring to the systems of beliefs created by individual verses as Versitis, and it is exactly stuff like the interpretations of verses like these that highlight what I mean. We get hung up on every little word, especially to the exclusion of the whole ... and then we wonder why Jesus was so confusing! ;) It is only by having surgically approached the writings in the Bible that we have come to some of the crazy conclusions and speculations that we have. Anyhow, you asked me expound some more regarding the phrase "everyone is forcing his own way". First, consider the word or phrase here. Strong's translates it:
to force, that is, (reflexively) to crowd oneself (into), or (passively) to be seized: - press, suffer violence.
A couple translations, especially a couple literal ones, also translate the word as "press". The LITV translates:
The Law and the Prophets were until John; from then the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is pressing into it.
Now, consider the word picture in this crowding into, pressing into, forcing one's way into ... then simply imagine an ancient scene where multitudes were gathered so closely together and many were forcing their way through. Sure, some came in faith, but there were many who came because Jesus and John had become so popular. John even rebuked some of the religious leaders who came to be baptized.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? "Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham." Matthew 3:7-9
The question is: Why were they coming to John for baptism? It obviously had nothing whatsoever to do with the real message of the kingdom of heaven as preached by John. No, they came to reassert themselves into favor with the people. They were doing whatever they had to in order to regain control, and they hoped that by gaining favor with John that he might endorse them in front of the people. Why else did Nicodemus approach Jesus? Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Him by night, and
said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him." John 3:1-2
Yeah, Nicodemus was sent to check up on Jesus to see if he was going to be for them or against them. Jesus could have been a great asset to their own leadership had they been able to control him. They simply could not deny the power of God that worked in him. Of course, as with John, Jesus also attracted many religious leaders as he spoke to Israel, and they had obviously pushed, pressed or forced their way in through the crowd. After all, they always seemed to be right there, often badgering and scoffing at Jesus' words. That's where they were when Jesus addressed the following comments in their direction:
Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. And He said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God. The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail. Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery." Luke 16:14-18
Notice how this phenomenon is connected to "those who justify themselves in the sight of men", and here it is specifically directed at the Pharisees. See, they were there in an attempt to justify themselves in the eyes of the people. Since the coming of John, this was the new strategy. Keep in mind that it was not just the religious leaders, for there were many who were doing the same thing. Just consider the incident in John 6 with the feeding of the 5,000 where Jesus ended up driving them all away, except for the twelve, once the thin veneer of their faith was pulled back. And even the disciples found themselves wavering ... and yet when they realized they had no where else to go, they stayed.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man. John 2:23-25
Jesus knew all men, and he knew what was in man. He was not impressed by the attempts and the confessions of man. And is this not exactly what most interpretations of his words attempting to pull over on us? Those who have been forcing their way in have been telling us how to approach and impress God. Don't listen to those voices. Jim