"The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it." - Jesus, Luke 16:16 NIV
I've been doing some prelimary studying for a retreat I'm writing for the fall on how can attain Sabbath rest. Faithful readers, you will be hearing a lot about this in the future! :) In the process of my studying out the passage in Matthew where Jesus tells all who are weary to come to him for rest, Matthew Henry's commentary pointed out the above passage in Luke as a parallel one.
Matthew Henry's point was, and we can clearly see from scripture, that people were so very anxious at the time of John the Baptist to enter into God's kingdom, i.e. they were "forcing" themselves into it. In Matthew 11:7-15 we see that multitudes of people followed John around, even through the wilderness to hear him speak. Here's what Mr. Henry in his classic bible commentary has to say about that multitude:
This violence denotes a strength, and vigour, and earnestness of desire and endeavour, in those who followed John's ministry, else they would not have come so far to attend upon it. It shows us also, what fervency and zeal are required of all those who design to make heaven of their religion. Note, They who would enter into the kingdom of heaven must strive to enter; that kingdom suffers a holy violence; self must be denied, the bent and bias, the frame and temper, of the mind must be altered; there are hard sufferings to be undergone, a force to be put upon the corrupt nature; we must run, and wrestle, and fight, and be in an agony, and all little enough to win such a prize and to get over such opposition from without and from within. The violent take it by force.
They who will have an interest in the great salvation are carried out towards it with a strong desire, will have it upon any terms, and not think them hard, nor quit their hold without a blessing, Gen 32:26. They who will make their calling and election sure must give diligence. The kingdom of heaven was never intended to indulge the ease of triflers, but to be the rest of them that labour. It is a blessed sight; Oh that we could see a greater number, not with an angry contention thrusting others out of the kingdom of heaven, but with a holy contention thrusting themselves into it!
What powerful words these are. How "far" will you go to attain the wonderful promises of God?
Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them. For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.