If you ask someone what they think of Heaven most often you will get a very positive response. Unless the person is a self-professed atheist or a God hater they will probably say Heaven sounds like a wonderful place. So I wonder why so much resistance to the Kingdom of Heaven? Jesus said we should pray this:
Matt 5:10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (AMP)
This was said about Jesus:
Matt 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (ESV)
And Jesus did this:
Matt 4:23 And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. (ESV)
And He told His disciples (us) to do the same:
Matt 10:7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. (ESV)
When John the Baptist was in doubt Jesus told Him about what was happening when He brought the Kingdom of Heaven:
Matt 11:3 And asked Him, Are You the One Who was to come, or should we keep on expecting a different one? 4 And Jesus replied to them, Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed (by healing) and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have good news (the Gospel) preached to them. (AMP)
And even then Jesus made this statement:
Matt 11:6 And blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) is he who takes no offense at Me and finds no cause for stumbling in or through Me and is not hindered from seeing the Truth. (AMP)
Later in the same passage Jesus said this:
Matt 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force [as a precious prize—a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion]. (AMP)
Matt 11:12 From the time of John the Baptizer until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful people have been seizing it. (GWT)
In “take it by force” I talked about how the Kingdom of Heaven is irresistible for those who see it, experience it or need it just like that last seat on the Ark or the last vial of vaccine or …well… Jesus. In “Just let it go” I tried to explain how the law to the religious can keep them from seeing the Kingdom and taking it by force. The law can actually keep us from stepping out of the bushes and into the Kingdom. Our fear of loosing control and surrendering to something (or someone) we can’t see is too great. A fallen human misconception of an angry God can have us clinging to a “law” for security. Our fallen nature is law focused. God isn’t. The law was made for man not man for the law. We need to learn how to let it go. In the next post I will hit that some more.
For now let’s get back to Matthew 11. Jesus is in the middle of explaining how John the Baptist was Elijah. Elijah was to prepare the way for Jesus and Jesus was to usher in the Kingdom. Here is a good summary in The Message translation:
Matt 11-14 “Let me tell you what’s going on here: No one in history surpasses John the Baptizer; but in the kingdom he prepared you for, the lowliest person is ahead of him. For a long time now people have tried to force themselves into God’s kingdom. But if you read the books of the Prophets and God’s Law closely, you will see them culminate in John, teaming up with him in preparing the way for the Messiah of the kingdom. Looked at in this way, John is the ‘Elijah’ you’ve all been expecting to arrive and introduce the Messiah. (The Message)
Now Jesus is looking around and what does He see?
Mat 11:16 “ But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, 17 “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. ’ (ESV)
Indifference. This Nation of Israel has been waiting for this day for so long and here it is. You would think they would be praising God and dancing in the streets but instead they are saying stuff like this:
Matt 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon. ’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘ Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! ’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (ESVST)
In the last post I talked about the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Remember what “Abraham” said about the Kingdom?
Luk 16:31 He said to him, ‘ If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead. ’” (ESVST)
Jesus is so amazing. Even indifference doesn’t get Him off message. He knows how hard-headed we can be. He knows how we can be so attached to routine, lists and laws. We find our identity in people and relationships instead of Him. We refuse to let go of our selfish lives to receive His Kingdom life. Still He brings the Kingdom and all the miraculous that comes with it and it incites a reaction one way or another.
Matt 1:20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. (ESV)
You know when someone witnesses the manifest goodness and love of God they will have to “deal with it.” They will have to choose whether to change their minds (repent) or reject God’s goodness. When God heals someone of an incurable disease because He loves them all those there will have to come to some kind of conclusion. When someone experiences the love of God personally they are faced with a decision. When we are an expression of the Kingdom to another person they are presented with an option apart from indifference. Jesus told us to bring the Kingdom and that means with all its power in the Holy Spirit.
The goodness of God will lead a person to a decision. They get to choose God. They get to choose God’s goodness or their circumstance. They get to choose the love of God or the love of man. Sometimes we just have to get over our stubborn human wisdom:
Matt 11:25 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children;
I challenge all of us to bring the Kingdom in all its glory. We should expect a reaction. Sometimes it will be a choice for glory. Sometimes it will be an outright rejection that may include some hostility. Still we bring all the goodness of God, all the glory of Heaven, all the love of Jesus and all the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit. God does all the hard work. Jesus does the healing. The Holy Spirit spreads God’s love. We just get to agree. Here are a few verses from this passage you probably remember:
Matt 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)
What we don’t do is condemn. We don’t bring fear. We don’t persuade with a human argument or a demonic fear of hell. There is no fear of punishment in God’s love. His perfect love casts out fear but it does incite a reaction. We get to trust Him or trust ourselves. We get to take the yoke or go it on our own.
Let’s battle indifference with more of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let’s press in with confidence expecting a reaction. Let’s seek more and more of His glory manifest through us. Let’s bring the irresistible Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. No more indifference and much more Kingdom!