This morning we look at two very different books of the Bible in one way, but similar in others.
John the Baptist is in jail. He is doubting whether Jesus really is the Messiah. He has done everything right and yet he is sitting in a Roman prision. So he sends his disciples to ask Jesus if He is the One. Jesus doesn’t scold or belittle him, He points him to what He has been doing… the marks of the Messiah. And then as John’s disciples leave Jesus says this:
11 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. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:11-12 [ESV])
The old King James reads, Since the days of John the Baptist till now the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men (women) take hold of it. I like that rendering better. Kingdom work is not for whimps. When I stop to think of it I can think of at least nine people who have given their lives for the sake of the kingdom. One theologian has said, “The church advances on the blood of its martyrs.” Now that gets your attention doesn’t it.
Jonah was thinking of himself and John was thinking of the kingdom. When you think of your place in God’s kingdom are you thinking of yourself or the kingdom? Do you think of what’s in if for you or how your work will further the kingdom? John died in that prison through events that seem totally repulsive to us. Jonah was spared his life and yet in the end pouted about it. He would rather have died than seen God’s kingdom prevail.
Paul Carlson (Congo), John & Betty Stamm (China), Nate Saint, Ed McCully, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, and Jim Elliot (Equador) all gave their lives so that the kingdom could advance. We stand on their shoulders today and the shoulders of countless others. What’s your approach to God’s kingdom? Will you stand firm and partner with Him in moving it forward? Let’s pray for one another as we serve our Lord each day.
Father God, Thank you for including us in your kingdom work. Help us to serve you with all we have and to be the people of your kingdom that joyfully moves it forward instead of running from it. In Jesus strong name I pray, Amen.
PS: If you’d like to hear the story of John & Betty Stam, click on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdFslNA-jQE