I was at a Dallas Willard lunch and lecture a few days ago. Dallas was signing books afterwards and he asked my name, he though for a few seconds and then he wrote: “For Dave Johnson- Matt 11:11-12, Dallas.” For those of you who have read a little bit of Dr. Willard’s work you know that he is a deep individual. In the moment I was too busy getting my picture taken with Dr. Willard to see what he wrote. So later that day I looked at the book and noticed the way that he signed it. He has a very modest way about him and he writes humbly. The verse he wrote was obscure to me, I couldn’t immediately recall the verse.
This is what it says:
“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. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.”
Who has that verse on the tip of their brain?
When you look at this verse in its context, the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and wanted to really make sure that he was the Messiah. Jesus’ answer was that he is the messiah but blessed is the person who doesn’t fall away on account of him. (Only Jesus cited the scriptures to prove that he was the messiah) Then Jesus says this verse that Dr. Willard cited. It is as if Jesus was saying that God’s revolution has been moving forward for some time, people are grasping hold of it and it is moving forward. I wonder if it was a way to comfort and encourage his disciples. A way to say, Just because John the Baptist is going to die, doesn’t mean that the kingdom will die with it. Because the kingdom is advancing, and when you really get a firm grasp of what that means, you will advance it even further.
I love that Dr. Willard cited a Bible verse than needs context in order to understand it. Maybe this is the verse he puts in every book, I don’t know. But I wonder if it is a way for Willard to say, the Kingdom is moving forward, forcefully lay hold of it.Share