The Violent Raid the Kingdom
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11: 11 – 15 NIV)
OK . . . let’s set the context. John was in prison. It was Herod Antipas who held John in prison because John had rightly noted that it was against the law for Herod to marry his brother Philip’s wife. You will remember Herod the Great as the one who tried to kill Jesus by killing all the boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem under the age of two. Herod’s kingdom had been divided among the sons who had survived his cruelty and Jesus was ministering in the territory of Herod Antipas at the time John’s disciples came to ask a question from John: “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
“Jesus replied, `Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news in proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.’” (Matthew 11: 3 – 6 NIV)
Herod was the smooth talking, jealous, and murderous type. He was Arabic by blood, Jewish by religion, Roman by citizenship, and king of Judaea by trade.
Herod, also known as Herod I or Herod the Great (born 74 BC, died 4 BC in Jericho, according to other data, 1 BC, was a Jewish Roman client king of Israel.
He was described as a madman who murdered his own family and a great many rabbis.
He is also known for his colossal building projects in Jerusalem and other parts of the ancient world, including the rebuilding of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, sometimes referred to as Herod's Temple.
Some details of his biography can be gleaned from the works of the 1st century AD Roman-Jewish historian Josephus Flavius. According to Josephus, Herod the Great ruled for 37 years, 34 years of them after capturing Jerusalem.
His son Herod Antipas, who continued the Herodian dynasty, was ruler of Galilee (4 BC - 39 AD) during the time of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Herod became governor of Galilee in 47 BC. In 41 BC Herod was made tetrarch of Galilee.
Herod's Kingdom divided amongst his sons in 4 BC - Territory of Archelaus, ruled by Roman procurators after AD 6. - Territory of Herod Antipas (the one who killed John the Baptist.) - Territory of Philip
I copied the above map and information from the internet. Biblical stories about Herod Antipas include Jesus being taken before him at the time of his trial and Jesus would say nothing to him. Herod only wanted to see Jesus for a circus act of performing a miracle.
Shortly after the scene of the occasion when John’s disciples came to question Jesus; John was beheaded in prison. Jesus’ reaction is noteworthy. He immediately left the territory of Galilee, Herod’s territory, and went to the area of Caesarea Philippi. It was in this territory that Jesus first began to teach His disciples that He would die and rise again on the third day. Do you think that Jesus was unaware of these scriptures before this time? Do you think that Jesus was not hearing Father’s voice before this time? Why, then, did Jesus not teach about His coming death until after John was beheaded? Both John and Jesus preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near!” Both John and Jesus preached at the end of the 490 year (70 weeks of years) time frame that was spoken by Daniel in 9: 24. The Jews had been given that time to repent. Jesus appeared and began his ministry at the 483rd year; the beginning of the final “week.” One of the conditions noted by Daniel was to “anoint the Holy One.” In other words, to accept Jesus as the Anointed One. We will never know what would have happened if Jesus had been accepted by the Jews instead of being rejected. Is it possible that Jesus would not have needed to go to the cross?
The way I read the situation is that John and Jesus were both preaching repentance. Actually called the Jews to complete Daniel 9: 24. The refused and rejected both John and Jesus. Remember that John was the forerunner. John was the one sent to prepare the way for Jesus. When John was beheaded it was the preparation, the preparing of the way, for the death of Jesus. Now Jesus knew beyond any doubt what His role would be. It would be by His death that the world would fully have Father revealed.
If we are not seeing the kingdom of God actively among us – including all of the things witnessed by the disciples of John the Baptist – we are to violently assault heaven in prayer for ourselves to discover why we are falling short of being full representatives of Jesus on earth.