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“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the
violent take it by force.”
Matthew 11:12 (ESV)

I was reading the book Jesus The Jewish Theologian by Brad Young the other day and in chapter 5, he gives the best explanation of Matthew 11:12 that I have heard. First, Young noted that most modern translations have the term “suffered violence” in the wrong voice, they translate it as passive voice, but an active form is the better. “Forcefully advancing” is the better translation (the NIV translates it this way). He connects this passage to Micah 2:13, “He who opens the breach goes up before them; they break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king passes on before them, the LORD at their head.” Matthew is linking John the Baptist to the figure in Micah who opens the breach. And then the “violent” are those who break though. The image the first century hearers of this would have is of a sheepfold. At night the shepherd would use brush to enclose the sheep in a cave or other enclosure. In the morning, the shepherd would remove enough for a small opening and the sheep eager to get to food and water would rush that small opening and make it bigger in their eagerness.

That is what I have been reflecting on after reading this book. Jesus’ death and Resurrection opened up the kingdom of God for us. He opened up what is available. Are we pushing forth into what Jesus has made available for us? Certainly, there are those Christians who believe that gifts ceased with the first apostles, I am not asking them. I am asking those of us who believe in the continuation of the gifts. Are we too comfortable, comfortable to the point that we are not expanding the kingdom. Are we happy in our sheep pen and not rushing the opening? It is by rushing the gate and pushing into what Jesus has opened up that we make the opening bigger and easier for those who follow us. When we say that we want our ceiling to be the next generation’s floor, part of that is tied to us actually bumping our heads against that ceiling and making a few dents.

I have been reflecting on what are those areas in my life where have I been content in my sheep pen. What are those things of the kingdom that are available now which I have not pushed into a flimsy barricade of sticks to get? I have my list. I suggest that you all take a moment and think about that area of “breakthrough” that you have been wanting. Have you pushed in to break it?