November 7, 2021 Don't Be Offended, But Be Violent!

Don’t Be Offended but Be Violent!

November 7, 2021



Read Matthew 11:1-15.


Jesus continues to teach and preach. He does this in the cities of the disciples. It is as if he is continuing to model for them the kind of ministry that they will have. We have this same ministry. Not many can preach. It can be daunting to speak before a crowd. But all can teach. Teaching, often, can be done one-on-one and in comfortable settings.


Verses 2 and 3 have perplexed many because John is expressing doubt whether Jesus is the Messiah. How can this be since he seemed completely certain of it when he baptized Jesus?


John did not doubt Jesus was the Messiah at all. He knew he was. If so, why did he ask? It may have been because this was John’s gentlemanly way of asking Jesus to deliver him from prison. If he was sure that Jesus was the Messiah then he was also sure that he had the power to deliver John from prison. It was John’s way of saying, “Are you really the Messiah? Then get me out of here!” But John was not so crude. He was being tactful.


If this is the dynamic behind John’s question then we can learn several things. First our will is not always the Lord’s will, even in seemingly good things. Certainly, it would have been a good thing for John to get out of prison. But the Lord had other designs for him. He would be beheaded. The result of his beheading would end in great things. John would become an example for millions of followers of Christ to speak boldly in the face of sin. Even unto death. John himself will receive rewards beyond our imagination. When the judgment of his own occurs, John will be magnified astoundingly for his great faithfulness.


Second, the Lord does not always answer our requests affirmatively. Even the good ones. He always has a good reason though.


Third, he does not always tell us why. Jesus answered John’s question by simply affirming fulfilled prophecy, as if he was answering John’s question as it was stated and not answering what he really wanted to know. If John was being subtle and tactful in his question, Jesus was being even more subtle and tactful in his answer. It’s as if Jesus were saying, “Yes, I am the One. But I choose to leave you in prison.”


Jesus’ words in verse 6 show that this understanding is correct. Jesus said, “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” Why would Jesus doing miracles to help people offend John? It wouldn’t. But leaving him in prison might. How would you feel if you were in jail and you asked your relative to post bail for you and this relative was rich, so that the bail was no problem? But, they left you in jail. I think you might be offended. “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” There are many so-called Christians who get angry at God for not answering their prayer requests. Never be that person!


Our understanding of our own circumstances is so limited. We cannot see the big picture. We do not know what God is doing nor how he uses the negative things to transform us. Neither do we know what awaits us. We know so little! God’s ways are mysterious. But we do know this: He is always using every circumstance, even prison, to bring us into something better than we have. It is so!


Isn’t John the Baptist the greatest of the prophets? He is! Jesus said he was. Yet, he was tempted to be offended and he was offended. That means we have the same temptation. Do not be offended by the Lord when he does not answer your prayers. Of course, he will answer many of your prayers. He likes to answer them! This is a divine fact! But, it is also true that he has a good reason for those He does not answer. Trust him and do not be offended.


“Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”


You are blessed already. Would you like to receive more blessing? I would!  If so, then do not be offended when the Lord does not answer your prayer affirmatively. Rather, simply say, “Lord, you give and you take away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21b) When you fully trust in his dealings with you then you will experience even more blessing!


Then Jesus builds John up in the hearing of the people.


When the disciples of John left then Jesus turned to the crowd. Thus, the crowd had heard this whole conversation. When John would hear the reply of Jesus, he knew what Jesus was really saying. The crowd heard it too. But they would have understood JesusαΎ½ at face value. To John, Jesus was saying, “Don’t be weak. Don’t be offended.” To the crowd he says that John is both a strong man and a great man:


“What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? [1]


A reed is a weak plant susceptible to the wind. It’s as if Jesus were telling the crowd, “John is not a weak man. He is not moved by the winds of change.”


He tells them that he did not wear fine clothes (like the religious leaders of their day). He wore camel’s hair. He was radical.


He tells them that they went out into the wilderness to see a prophet and that, not only is John a prophet, but he is more than a prophet. He is the greatest of all the prophets!


After claiming to be the Messiah (verse 10), he then tells them:


Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.[2]


What did Jesus mean by “the kingdom of heaven”?


When one considers the Sermon on the Mount, which we did, we see that when Jesus uses the phrase, “kingdom of heaven,” he means the kingdom that comes from heaven and which he will establish on the earth when he returns. It is what we commonly call the Millennial Kingdom. Even though John is the greatest of all the prophets, those who take part in the first resurrection and enter into the kingdom will be greater than John. Of course, John himself will take part in this kingdom. But Jesus is comparing John now, in his earthly ministry, to those who will enter the kingdom.


Yet, there is a real sense in which even those who are in the present phase of the kingdom are greater than John.


There are many truths revealed in Scripture that have an “already and not yet” aspect. That is, there are some truths that are a present reality but await a fuller manifestation or a greater fulfillment in the future. The kingdom of God is one of those truths that have this characteristic. When we believe in Christ and repent of our sins, we are transferred into the kingdom of Christ (Col. 1:13). But the kingdom in the present age is hidden in a way. Those looking at the church from the outside do not see God’s kingdom. But it is here. Its fullness will come when Jesus comes again. Then all will see and know.


There is a real sense in which those in the kingdom now are greater than John the Baptist.


John the Baptist was close to Christ. John’s mother, Elizabeth, is described by Luke (1:36) as a “kinswomen” of Mary. This means that she was either Mary’s aunt or Mary’s cousin. Thus, Jesus and John were second cousins. John was close to Christ, but he was not as close to Christ as we are. We have Christ within us! He is in us and we are in him. Because Christ’s spirit is mingled with our spirit, our relationship with him is intimate. We are even joined to him!


he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. [3]


What could be closer than this? This close relationship to Christ makes us greater than all those who preceded us. What a great blessing this is!


Oh! We must see that the truth of Christ indwelling us is not merely a fanciful way of saying that we have a close relationship with him. When the Scriptures testify that Christ is in us they mean to declare that he is within us in reality!


It is because his spirit is mingled with ours that we have this close and intimate relationship with him! This makes us greater than John!


Then our Lord says something quite perplexing to many:


From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.[4]


What did Jesus mean by this? The first part of the verse is easily explained.


“The days of John the Baptist,” when Jesus was speaking these words, was now past. He spoke boldly, he confronted sin and, as a result, violent men put him in prison. Soon, violent men would behead him. Of course, Jesus would soon experience violence against himself.  There has been a suffering of violence. But, how do the violent take the kingdom by force? Actually, the kingdom (the coming age) cannot be taken by force. Only those whom God allows in can enter. The second part of the verse is understood by its sister passage in Luke:


The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it.[5]


The one word which translates “forces his way” is the exact same word (biazatai) as in Matthew 11:12. And so:


The law and the prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and every one enters it violently. (RSV)


The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the gospel of the kingdom of God is preached, and every man entereth violently into it. (ASV)


The law of Moses and the revelation of the prophets have prepared you for the arrival of the kingdom announced by John. Since that time, the wonderful news of God’s kingdom is being preached, and people’s hearts burn with extreme passion to receive it. (Passion Translation)


In Matthew 11:12, Jesus seems to be saying, “In the same way that John and you will be violently opposed, you must use violence to enter the kingdom.” Of course, not the kind of physical violence that John, Jesus, and all the apostles (every one) received, but they must be willing to use all their passion and power to enter the kingdom. This fits with the theme of the Sermon on the Mount. Are we violent to enter? Or, are we sitting at ease in Zion? To receive salvation we do nothing but trust in Christ. To enter the kingdom we must force our way in! We must take it by force! Get off of your lazy behind! You will never take over an earthly kingdom by sitting around. Don’t expect to receive the kingdom of heaven by sitting around!


We must be violent with ourselves. The apostle Paul was fierce with himself in running the race to Christ’s kingdom:


Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [6]


The prize to which Paul refers is not eternal life. Eternal life is a gift, not a prize. Eternal life is not obtained by any efforts of our own. Our prize is dependent upon our self-control and discipline.


The prize is our reward for being faithful. It is participation in the first resurrection and entrance into the kingdom. In order to receive this prize we must be violent with ourselves as Paul was. Get your body and your desires under the control of your spirit!


We must be violent in our battle against ideas, arguments, and opinions. We do not allow falsehoods to be spoken without destroying them! That is right! We are called to destroy people’s opinions that are contrary to revelation!


For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,[7]


We must be violent with disobedience in the body of Christ. In the very next verse, Paul writes:


being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete. [8]


We are to look out for the spiritual welfare of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are our brother’s keeper!


In short, Christ is calling you to enter the kingdom violently. That is, we give our whole lives for the kingdom! We don’t just give our spare time. If you are only giving your spare time then you are not fit for the kingdom.


God is calling you to be fierce. He is calling you to be focused. He is calling you to be aggressive. He is calling you to give your all in order to enter the kingdom!


Are you? Are you fierce for the kingdom?


[Conclusion and Application] We saw three matters in this passage.


  • We learned from John the Baptist not to be offended when the Lord does not answer our requests. If you will trust in the Lord’s hand upon your life, then you can wait upon him. Do not rush ahead. Do not be offended.
  • We learned that we are greater than John even now. It is because Christ is in us and we are one with him. Therefore, we have a deep and intimate relationship with our Savior who is also our Friend (John 15:15). Enjoy the closeness!
  • We learned that we must press our way into the kingdom. We fight sin in our own lives. We boldly oppose false ideas and rebellious arguments. We live for the coming kingdom and not for the trinkets of this age.


I tell you, the deeper your relationship with the indwelling Lord the more violent you will be for the kingdom! You must nurture your intimacy by putting the Lord first in the morning. Seek his face first. When you put him first he will make his presence known and you will give your all for the kingdom. But if you just take care of your physical needs and think that you will experience the Lord later in the day, the day will slip away and you will lose your violence.


We are called to battle for the kingdom. Live in the call! Our time is so short. The kingdom of God is what matters, not your petty comforts. The violent are the ones who receive the kingdom! Those are the words of Jesus! Are you?




[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 11:7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 11:11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 6:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 11:12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 16:16). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 9:24–27). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 10:3–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[8] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 10:6). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.