11 I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John
the Baptist, yet he 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 been forcefully advancing, and forceful
men lay hold of it. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are
willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 He who has ears, let him hear (Matt
Close your eyes. Imagine, with your eyes closed, that a captive is blindfolded and being held in
water over his head. Occasionally, the persons who are holding him allow him above the water
to breathe but immediately push him back underwater. Every time he is pushed underwater he
is held under longer than the previous time. Imagine now the urgency he feels when he does
not think he can take it too much longer.
Imagine the level of fight that would arise with that man as he felt he might be at the end of his
life. Have you, like that young man, ever been in a position where life was urgent, but then it
became even more urgent? That is what we are going to talk about today but from a kingdom
As typical, I have two exegetical points and a homiletical point of application. Once we have
learned what the Scriptures say, we must consider what they also want us to do. How to Go
Harder than John the Baptist.
1 John the Baptist Was Forceful.
Jesus stated at the beginning of verse 11 saying “I tell you the truth.” In our vernacular, He
would have said, “Straight up, For Real Though, or No Cap.” Jesus used “I tell you the truth” at
least 78 times in the New Testament Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
John the Baptist was the greatest of the Old Testament Prophets according to verse 11. Jesus is
making a point of making sure that everyone understands that of all the people who have a “Go
Hard” reputation. Prophets were tough people to start with because they were the people with
the favor of God. They also did what God told them to do how God told them to do it when God
told them to do it.
Prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel were among those Prophets who were tough
in that they said what God said to whomever God said to say it. Yet, John the Baptist is listed as
the greatest of those prophets. John the Baptist is the greatest of all the prophets because John
the Baptist is the prophet who was preparing the way for Jesus.
John was preaching a message to prepare people for the Messiah, Jesus who was to come.
John’s preaching was effective in that it prepared people for Jesus. John the Baptist, like all of
those who preceded him, was as the KJV puts it, “violent.” Violent means they were forceful!
Those in the past who advanced the kingdom were forceful. The kingdom advanced because of
great passion and effort because there was always with great effort opposing them. The greater
the opponent was the more effort, passion, and persistence they exerted.
The word used for violence is “Harpozo.” It means to snatch, to take aggressively. Luke records
Jesus talking about violence and forcefulness too: “16 “The Law and the Prophets were
proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being
preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” Let’s look at what Acts 23:10 says, “ 10 The
dispute became so violent that the commander was afraid Paul would be torn to pieces by
them. He ordered the troops to go down and take him away from them by force and bring
him into the barracks.” So to advance the kingdom of God will take great effort. You too can do
it, but not without Passion and forcefulness. That leads me to the second major point.
2 Those of the New Covenant Church Must be more Forceful.
John the Baptist was powerful, but he did not know the message of the gospel the way you
know it today. Today’s church is an extension of John and all the Old Testament prophets.
Therefore, since we know in high definition what they only knew as a shadow, we must be even
more persistent, passionate, and forceful than they were. They went hard back then, but how
could the church of today not go even harder than they did when we know the message of the
gospel so much better than they did.
So, Jesus said everyone who has opened ears will be violent, will go hard, will have great effort
because he has heard the message. 14 times it is recorded that Jesus said, “He who has ears,
let him hear.”
Hearing and listening are not synonymous, they’re not the same. One can hear without
listening. You cannot control your ear from hearing. It happens because the ear is designed to
pick up sound. Hearing happens naturally. Listening happens intentionally. What Jesus means is
this: “He whose ears are opened, Let him surely hear, or Let him take heed to give most earnest
attention.” The person who hears with a listening ear will pursue the kingdom with zeal, force,
How much have you been snatching for the kingdom? How passionate have you been for the
advancement of the kingdom of God? The kingdom has always advanced through violence.
What are we waiting for to become violent, passionate, and forceful?
Jesus was forceful! He came down through 42 generations because he was forceful. He taught
his disciples for three long years because he was forceful. Jesus raised the dead, healed the sick,
caused the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the deaf to hear, gave hope to the hopeless, and
healed the brokenhearted because he was forceful.
Jesus was so forceful that he said, “No man takes my life, but I lay it down of my own accord.
And I am so forceful that I can lay it down in death but raise it again in victory. I can lay it down one way, but raise it another. Jesus is so forceful that he allows Himself to go to Calvary all to
advance the Kingdom of God. How do we follow that kind of forcefulness with passivity?
· Get a forceful “Game Face.”
· Do Mental Endzone Preparation