Have you ever made sausage? Or watched it being made? Me neither, but I understand the implication in saying something is “like making sausage.” The end result is good, but the process is messy – even violent. If you think of the fact that the animal is first killed, then bled, then put through the grinder… Well, let me just say that I prefer my turkey sausage in a package, all cleaned up and ready for cooking.
The gift of salvation through the precious sacrifice and blood of Jesus is the greatest act of love in the whole of eternity. Yet, we’d be hard pressed to come up with a more violent act than the process the perfect Lamb of God endured to save us. It’s sobering to say the least.
In response to His willingness to endure that violence on my behalf, He expects a violent response from me.
Matthew 11:12 [KJV] And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. The word translated violent (G973) means strong, forceful. The word translated force (G725) means seize, carry off by force, snatch away.
Luke has a slightly different take on this. Luke 16:16-17 [ESV] 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.
We all endure pain and suffering, health or financial struggles, offences and other trials during our lifetimes. Although, we cannot compare what we endure with His sacrifice, because He went through it (and so much more), Jesus does understand how pain and suffering affects us. He sends the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to help us.
However, I don’t think that is what the scripture is talking about here. I believe what these passages tell us is that we need to be willing to forcefully remove our own sin-filled human nature and Satan’s influence in our lives.
Even more than the struggle with trials, the struggle with human nature and Satan’s influence, which is all around use, takes boldness, force and struggle. Human nature will not die easily. Satan is never going to give up – not until the day I die or the day Jesus returns to bind him.
Salvation did not come to us neat and clean and wrapped in plastic. Our Savior went through physical and emotional pain. Isaiah 52:14 [CSB] tells us, Just as many were appalled at you -- his appearance was so disfigured that he did not look like a man, and his form did not resemble a human being. He knew what was coming and, although He prayed for it to pass (see Matthew 26:39), He obeyed the will of the Father and endured that great violence for my sake and your sake and for the sake of all who ever lived and will yet live. He did it for love of us.
And, because of that, because it comes to us with great cost and suffering, I believe this scripture encourages us to seize onto salvation, take it by force, snatch it away and press into it. We know salvation itself is a free gift. It is not the receiving of that free gift that takes this forceful acquisition. It is rather, the removal of sin and self, of Satan’s influence and human nature’s pull that requires concerted effort and real struggle.
This battle will not be won easily. I must use the Word of God to cut away everything in me that is not of Him. Hebrews 4:12 [NIV] For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
I must fight my human nature with every fiber of my being to wrestle my way toward the person God expects me to be.
At this time of the year, as we reflect on the plan of God that begins with the sacrifice of our only Messiah, let’s recommit to taking the Kingdom by force – that is, by forcing out everything within us that not of Him.
The Father understands that change does not come easy. It takes work. Changing human nature is a process that takes force, strength and commitment. And we need to be up to the task.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write to me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.