Ok. I am not one to talk about Bible texts as being troublesome, but here is my exception. What is Jesus talking about in Matthew 11:11-12? He says “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has been treated violently, and violent men take it by force.” How is the Kingdom of Heaven treated violently and who are these “violent ones” who take it? I did a rough translation from the Greek and I was not helped much. My little UBS lexicon said the work BIOS (violence) could be translated “eagerness”. Is that translation helpful by this text or noted in light of this text? I don’t know which. So I look for an answer within the text itself.
Jesus refers to a change that has taken place within a limited scope of time- since the preaching of John until now. Matthew records the details of that time period. It seem he would refer back to what he has already written, not make an obscure offhand reference. So the questions the reader must ask are
- What conditions changed beginning with the preaching of John and continuing in the preaching of Jesus
- What are the results of those changed conditions.
The changed condition is that Jesus and John have been preaching 1. the nearness of the Kingdom 2. the need for repentance to enter the Kingdom.
The result is amazing. There is an influx of desperate people who make the discovery that by humble repentance and/or total trust that they can experience God. Who comes into the Kingdom?
Matthew 8:1 A Leper
Matthew 8:5 A Centurian
Matthew 8:14 Peter’s sick mother
Matthew 8:19 A Scribe
Matthew 8:26 His own disciples
Matthew 8:28 Demon possessed gentiles
Matthew 9:2 A Paralytic
Matthew 9:9 A Tax Collector
Matthew 9:19 A Hemorrhaging woman
Matthew 9:25 A synagogue ruler
Matthew 9:27 Two blind men
Matthew 9:32 A man unable to speak
Matthew 9:36 The harrassed and helpless multitudes
Then Jesus empowers the 12 to go and preach the good news that the Kingdom is near. Get the picture? Some of these people are those you might expect to enter. Most of them would not even be allowed to access the Temple, but Jesus offers them direct access to the King of the Kingdom. How can that be? Because the Kingdom of Heaven is not taken hold of by the qualified, but by the desperate.