Matt. 11:12, “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.”
I hear saints quote the above scriptures most times to buttress the reclaiming of what the enemy must have stolen from us and to be violet in the spirit in prayers in order to be able to get results. To most of us this speaks of an aggressive spirit in order to possess our possessions.
And to achieve this sometimes we must always get to the point of “cutting ourselves” like the prophets of Baal. But what exactly was Jesus talking about? Who was He addressing and why?
To answer these questions, let us quickly take a look at how Luke rendered this same thought. Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”
In Luke’s version the word “Violent” in Matthew is seen as “PRESSETH into it;” i.e., into the kingdom. Meaning the violent taking over the kingdom right from the days of John the Baptist means people pressing into the kingdom.
It has nothing to do with spiritual warfare of reclaiming lost properties from the devil.
In the real sense what Jesus meant when saying, “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence,” was that the down trodden as the tax-gatherers and Gentiles, whom the scribes and Pharisees think have no right to the kingdom of God as revealed by the Messiah.
These people having seen and understood the true nature of the kingdom now filled with holy zeal and earnest desire, seize at once on the wonderful message of the kingdom and the mercies revealed therein.
Therefore, in a way taking the kingdom by force from those learned doctors who claimed for themselves the chiefest places in that kingdom of God.
This is why Jesus gave the parable of a man with two sons whom he sent on an errand to work in his farm. The first said he wouldn’t go and yet went later; whereas the second said I will go but went not.
So Jesus asked the Pharisees,
“Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.”
Then Jesus explained His meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. 32 For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins,” Matt. 21:28-32 NLT.
Jesus then was simply alluding to the fact that the despised publicans and sinners are pressing into the kingdom of heaven, while the proud Pharisees reject it.
Now what it means to be violent into the kingdom is a clear understanding of what the kingdom represents and the benefits therein.
Those who have this understanding don’t wait to be pushed before they invest into the kingdom. Example of such persons is the like of Joseph of Arimathaea who gave his grave for the burial of Jesus after requesting for His dead body. It is only because he saw value and glory in what the Body represented in the kingdom that he gave out his grave.
So to be “VIOLENT- PRESS” is like when a shepherd opens the door to the sheep to graze in the morning, the force with which they are coming to the field is what it looks like for those moving into the kingdom because of what they have seen.
This has nothing to do with violent prayers or a fight. It is simply a thing of understanding of the joy of and in the kingdom.