Christ’s comment about violence taking the kingdom refers to violent men who attempt to seize the work of God – Matthew 11:12.

In Matthew, Jesus declares that “violent men are seizing the kingdom of God.” Is he referring to malevolent men outside the church who attempt to seize control of the kingdom? Or does he mean Christians must aggressively pray and otherwise press into it? Are disciples to “forcefully seize” the promises from God, and does his kingdom advance through forceful action?

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Path to the Kingdom

When Jesus of Nazareth first appeared in Galilee, he proclaimed the “Kingdom of God” – “Repent, for the kingdom is at hand.” In his ministry, God’s reign began to invade the earth. But his realm was and is of an entirely different nature than the political systems of the present age.

And on more than one occasion, Jesus refused THAT kind of political power, especially when it was offered by Satan in the wilderness who offered him “all the kingdoms of the world.”

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After his baptism, the Spirit “drove Jesus into the wilderness for forty days and nights.” Like Israel, he was “tested” by Satan, but unlike that nation, he overcame every test and emerged victorious and “full of the Holy Spirit,” and thereby, well-equipped to proclaim the kingdom.

This contest with the Devil determined just what kind of Messiah he was – A mighty conquering hero or the humble Servant of Yahweh. Moreover, his temptation was a vital step in preparing him to become the herald of the kingdom.

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The Greater Lawgiver

In Matthew’s gospel, the life and deeds of Jesus echo key events in the history of Israel, not that he reenacts them, but instead, he brings what God began in the past to fruition in the kingdom of God. The Nazarene is the Greater Lawgiver foreshadowed in the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

This is not done simply for literary effect. By presenting parallels between Moses and Jesus, Matthew sets the stage for the teachings of the “Coming One,” especially in his so-called ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

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At his baptism, the “voice from heaven” called Jesus “my beloved Son,” identifying him as the Messiah and the “Servant of Yahweh” Matthew 3:17.

A key theme in Matthew’s gospel is fulfillment. In Jesus, the promises from the Hebrew Bible find their fulfillment and their correct understanding. Peter, for example, declared Jesus the “Messiah” but he failed to understand that he must fulfill that role as the suffering “Servant of Yahweh,” the one destined to die on behalf of his people.

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