"By Force, To Make Him King"
A study of the life of Jesus never ceases to be both profitable and intriguing. There was never a teacher like Jesus (John 7: 46). Jesus taught with authority, as the Son of God (Matt. 7: 28, 29). Not only do we benefit from studying the life and teaching of Jesus, but the gospels also contain many accounts of responses of people to Jesus and his teaching from which we can also learn. From these accounts we can glean how people think and respond to various things. There were many occasions when the people accepted and favorably responded to Jesusí sayings and then other circumstances in which they rejected Jesus and his teaching (Matt. 4: 23-25; John 8). It is often the case in considering menís response that we clearly see that God does not think as man (Isa. 55: 8, 9). Yet, man attempts to force God to thus think. A case in point is John 6, 14, 15.
"14: Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15: When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone" (John 6).
Based on a cursory examination of the text, one might think that these who beheld Jesusí miracles only acted out of love and respect for Jesus in trying to force Him to be King. However, upon closer consideration, it becomes evident that their desires collided with Jesusí will and mission. Jesus would soon become King, as we shall see, but his Kingdom and reign would not be such as they desired and imagined. They wanted a political Kingdom, one that would free them from the tyranny of Roman oppression. Hence, they tried to by force make him King, the kind of King they wanted! Let us now notice some particular ways in which men today similarly try to force Jesus to conform to their ideas, beginning with the coercion to be their kind of King.
Men today try to force Jesus to be king. To not be misled or mistaken, Jesus is presently King. Jesusí Kingdom and Lordship are primary points being presented in that first notable sermon preached, the one that launched the age of the gospel (Acts 2: 30-34). Jesus gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom and Peter used them, the gospel, in Acts 2 (cp. Matt. 16: 18, 19). The kingdom came with power, as Jesus promised (Mark 9: 1, Col. 1: 13, 14). You cannot have a kingdom without a King and Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords (I Tim. 6: 15). Alas, many today under the canopy of the false doctrinal system known as Premillennialism have rejected Jesusí Kingdom and Kingship and continue to look for their band of kingdom. Their understanding of the kingdom is similar to that of many of the Jews of the First Century, political and secular in its essential nature (cp. Acts 1: 6). Jesus said:
"36: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence" (John 18).
Premillennialism says that when Jesus returns, he will then set up his Kingdom. However, the scriptures teach that upon Jesusí return for final judgment, he will then deliver up the Kingdom to the Father (I Cor. 15: 24). This act, the delivering up of the Kingdom, shall be the "end" act, not the "beginning" act.
Men today attempt to coerce Jesus into teaching that man does not participate in his salvation. Such doctrines as "faith only" and "grace only" have found acceptance today as I have never heretofore observed. These doctrines teach that man has nothing to do and absolutely no active role to play in the securing of his salvation, God acts directly and alone, say they. When some favorably responded to the Gospel in Acts 2, Peter told them what to do in order to be saved (Acts 2: 37, 38). Notice that they had something to do. Peter further exhorted them to, "...Save yourselves from this untoward generation" (Acts 2: 40).
Manís role is not tantamount to salvation by law keeping or by meritorious works (Tit. 3: 5). Rather, man is simply accepting Godís grace when man humbly submits to the teaching of God (cp. 2 Cor. 6: 1). Jesus never himself or through his apostles taught salvation by grace alone; thus making man totally inactive in salvation (cp. Mark 16: 16, Phili. 2: 12).
Men try to force Jesus into teaching and approving of denominationalism. Denominationalism is the system of many divergent and conflicting faiths and churches, a system in which men are observed rallying around religious leaders, the founders of the different churches. Such is wrong and condemned (cp. I Cor. 1: 10f.). There is only one faith and church, not a multiplicity (Eph. 4: 4, 1: 22, 23; Eph. 4: 5). Notwithstanding, men promote religious division by sanctioning and promoting the concept of many faiths and religions. Jesus presents one and all others being excluded (cp. John 14: 6, 10: 1-5, Matt. 15: 3, 8, 9).
Men continue today to try to force Jesus into saying that water baptism is for the saved. Water baptism remains a source of much disagreement. Many insist that water baptism is not necessary to salvation and that it is an act performed by those already saved. They, in fact, must so teach in view of their basic theological views, such as salvation by grace alone. Yet, Jesus said:
"15: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16).
Peter expressly taught that scriptural baptism saves (I Pet. 3: 21). Throughout Acts, the Book containing examples of people being saved, we read how they were baptized in the climate of baptism being essential and for the remission of sins (Acts 2: 38, 22: 16, Acts 8: 35f.).
Not a few today are determined to force Jesus into saying that God unconditionally saves and that salvation is a matter that cannot be forfeited. The doctrine of "once saved, always saved is full of comfort," we are told. However, such is not taught in the scriptures. In the first place, it is Godís desire that all men be saved (2 Pet. 3: 9). Hence, if God "unconditionally saves," then all men would be saved, but they shall not be, only a comparative few will be saved (Matt. 7: 13, 14). Also, those few are constantly urged to grow and remain steadfast, lest they fall (2 Pet. 1: 5f., Heb. 6: 4-12).
The lesson that the people of John six, those who tried to force Jesus into then being King, a political King, and men today need to learn is that rather than try to "force Jesus" into anything, we need to acquiesce to what Jesus has taught. Consider Jesusí language:
"46: And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47: Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. 49: But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great" (Luke 6).
Jesus is Godís spokesman (Heb. 1: 1, 2). As such, Jesus has all authority in heaven and earth (Matt. 28: 18, 19). If we do not abide in his doctrine, we do not have God (2 John 9-11). Jesusí words are authoritative, providing life and spiritual sustenance (John 6: 63). It is also by Jesusí words that men shall be judged in the last day (John 12: 48).
There is no negotiating or plea bargaining with Jesus (Matt. 7: 23, 25: 46). The Jews in John six were unable to force Jesus into being their type of King. Jesusí will is not determined by popular vote, political correctness, or the coercion of man.
There are many other examples of how men try to force Jesus into postures and teachings that he never sanctioned. Alas, religion is the greatest example of the selfishness and rebellion of man. In closing, God does not force man into believing or doing anything against the will of man and man cannot force God into doing or believing anything against His will. It is just that simple and final.