Jesus emphasized the New Kingdom many times. In Matthew, from His baptism by John to the Sermon on the Mount, His rebukes to the Sanhedrin, scribes, Sadducees, and Pharisees; His performing miracles—all presaged what was to be His kingdom and how it differed from what the Jews had imagined. Verses 11-25 explains this New Kingdom wonderfully.
From the beginning of John’s baptism, men were trying to effect their place in heaven by force, by violence (Acts 5:34-39). Violence is indeed the word; one may become enmeshed with battle cries, sights, screams until he is last in the battle. And this is what happened to the Jews. So caught up were they in the idea of an earthly kingdom which could only exist under Jewish auspices, they were eyeing to battle the Roman Empire. After Jesus’ death, what he foretold occurred. The Jews did revolt and had to resort to revolting circumstances as the Romans soundly thrashed them.
It is true that we are in a battle, the only battle that counts. That battle is so that every precious soul may obtain God’s kingdom. Our instructions are from the word of God, our strategy truth, our solace and encouragement, prayer.
Luke 16:16 reinforces verse 13 as does verse 9 earlier in this chapter. John was different. The old dispensation was fading away. The next verse calls John the spiritual Elias by referencing the last verse of the Old Testament. And the next verse (15) is a formulaic phrase used much as the word Amen means “Let it be” to indicate something especially important has been said, therefore, hear and heed.
The next two verses (16 and 17) portray the Jewish nation as a nation of children, whiney, pushy, parting, and selfish. You don’t have to have had children to understand childish behavior. I’ll paint you one mental picture—a spoiled child on an airplane. One of my childhood friends drove my mom up the wall. I would be away, Joe would know this, and still walk up and down in front of our house half singing, “Hey Bu—utch. Hey Bu—utch” (my childhood nickname). Mom would open the door and say, “Joe, I told you Larry was at his grandparents!” He’d nod, say, “Ok, yeah”, and ten minutes later, “Hey Bu—utch, hey Bu—utch.”
An unfair comparison? How often had Israel turned from God, the creator of their nation as well as their world? They were like some of our childhood playmates just as the Jews in verses 18 and 19—“if you don’t play by our rules, we’ll take our ball and go home!” It is a wonder the Lord didn’t repeat himself in Genesis 6:6 only this time leaving no Noah and family behind.
And how Jesus upbraids the Jews in verses 20-24! Tyre, Sidon, even Sodom will fare better in the judgment because they had no training or knowledge of scripture. Consider: how will “Christians” today be judged on that day if they let their Bibles gather dust on the coffee table? There are three things we can take from these verses. First, there will be a future judgment day for all; secondly, temporal punishment for justice doesn’t nullify eternal punishment for the same deed (s); and thirdly, although the inhabitants of Sodom were annihilated, they are still awaiting final judgment.
In verse 25 Jesus addresses God as Father and is yielding himself to obedience as a son, not as a subject. The words “wise and prudent” sarcastically refer to the scribes and Pharisees with their corrupted hearts and perverted minds. Why were they so inclined? Imagine: where did they believe they would place in their sought-after earthly kingdom? The French have a saying, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” The lust for power still is with us as it was then. Jesus contrasts them to the ordinary believing followers (“babes”), innocent of such desires.
Do you see the pattern? No matter what works Jesus performed or what He said, the Jewish rulers were never going to accept Him; look at their twisted reasoning in verse 24 of the next chapter. But as verse 25 of chapter 13 tells us, Jesus knew their thoughts—vipers, white-washed sepulchers, they ended up just as it states in Romans 1:22, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”