A Moment with the Bible
In these verses, Jesus concludes His discussion of John the Baptist. Verse 12 is an explanation of why John is in prison. Beginning with John, the kingdom of heaven was “suffering violence, and the violent were taking it by force.” In other words, a battle was going on as the leaders of the world (in this case the Jewish leaders), tried to take God’s rule from Him. Psalm 2 is an excellent explanation of this text as the rulers of the world even go so far as to kill the Lord’s Messiah. But “He who sits in the heavens laughs…yet have I set My King on My holy hill of Zion” (Ps. 2:4-6). The battle is on for who will rule and God and His Christ will be the victors.
Verse 13 explains part of the reason the battle is waged. The Law and the Prophets were until John. There is now a transition period in which Jesus as the King will now institute His covenant and His laws. This will be in fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Galatians 3:24-26 states, “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (ESV). Therefore the Law pointed us to Christ where we could be justified by a system of faith instead of a system of Law where we had to rely on our own goodness and perfect law-keeping in order to be saved.
Jesus’ final statement reveals clearly that John was the “Elijah who is to come.” Malachi 4:1-6 speaks of God sending “Elijah” before the coming of the “great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Jesus already made reference to Mal. 3:1 stating that John was the messenger preparing the way before Him. In Mal. 4, John is the Elijah, that is, he would do just as the prophet Elijah in that he would turn the hearts of the people back to God. He would do this in order to prepare them from the coming of Jesus. However, Jesus’ coming would also bring a “great and dreadful day” in which the Jewish nation would be destroyed by God’s judgment because of their rejection of the Messiah.
We too face a great and dreadful day if we do not serve the Lord. Do not procrastinate! That day will surely come (2 Pet. 3:3-10).