[The Gospel According to…] Luke 16:7-18

Bible turned to Luke 16 with Moonstruck Portland dark chocolate and Bad Decision Dinosaur shot glass of milk

Today’s passageLuke 16:14-17

Oh, great. This verse.

I refer to Luke 16:16, where Jesus says, “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” I’ve never quite known what to make of this verse, or its analogue in Matthew 11:12 (“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force”). Is it a good thing or a bad thing that everyone’s forcing his way into the kingdom of God? Should we try to seize hold of the kingdom for ourselves, aggressively pursue it? Or is Jesus positing that the kingdom is under attack by the brutal and callous people of his day?

I think it’s important to note that Jesus is referring to the people around him–the people “from the days of John the Baptist until now.” The commentaries I looked up on Biblehub (Matthew, Luke) suggested that the people entering the kingdom by force were all the crowds surrounding him, pushing and shoving to catch the latest teachings. And when you think about Matthew 23:13, where Jesus says, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in,” and you consider that Luke 16:16 is bracketed by two passages where Jesus is surreptitiously criticizing the Pharisees for the callousness that accompanies their affluence, it kinda leads you to believe that Jesus is at least somewhat pleased with the crowds’ enthusiasm.

That’s not a whole lot of progress on our understanding of Luke’s understanding of the gospel, I’ll admit. I may have to puzzle over this verse some more in order to extract anything meaningful from it–maybe come back to it after finishing my survey of Luke. In the meantime, though, we’ve got another chunk of Moonstruck chocolate today. Tasty times!

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