Journal Luke 16 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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. But…it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.” Luke 16:16-17
Observation: Violence and the Gospel. Occasionally, Jesus says something that lends itself to a scratch on the top of the head and I go, “Huh?”
Analysis: Square peg in a round hole.
I have spent years trying to figure this statement out and I have spent as many years failing and having to put it aside for another day.
This morning the picture of a square peg being positioned over a round hole came to mind, with a hand and a hammer trying to get that square peg into that hole. Doesn’t fit smoothly.
Neither does trying to fit a personal view or interpretation of the Gospel, using out of context verses or worse yet, my own punkin’ head reasoning, into that Gospel-shaped hole.
I only have to consider the idea of “getting my ticket punched” through an alter call to get to heaven to see an example of “forcing my way into the Kingdom of God.” What happen to “persevere to the end” and “pursue in the fear of the Lord to the end of my days” as a godly objective?
This is the parallel verse from Matthew 11:12, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.”
It reads like the Kingdom of God is defined, but the definition is being violently forced into…what? Something that is not the Good News of the Kingdom of God? I can’t help but consider that as a possibility.
So how does this affect me? What do I need to glean out of this? One word: Surrender.
I understand that there is nothing that is inherent in me that God would find lovely. Nothing. Since before I was born, God knew I was born a traitor and would be, at my core, a traitor all my days. That is why I need a Redeemer, a Savior: Not once upon a time, but for every day of my life.
The Gospel is this: Salvation, Redemption is all of God the Trinity’s prerogative and sovereignty. I could do nothing to earn it. Even my “salvation statement of faith” is all powered by Him Alone, through His sovereign choice. I could not and cannot come to Him on my own, I must be called. The Scripture is clear on that.
IF I got this right, THEN when I think of “twisting the Scriptures”, it MAY be considered a violent act, not consistent with reverent, accurate, and humble handling of the Word of God (see 2 Tim:15).
Prayer: Father, what did I learn today? I think all that I did was to put a theoretical answer to a long-standing question about this passage. Still, when I ponder upon it, it does make sort of sense. This is a result of the wonder about Your Word—that I can think and ponder, gaze at the overwhelming freshness of the Gospel daily. AMEN