Friday, December 13, 2019

Morning Prayer Reading 66: Jonah Part 2

 –Jonah 2-3 selective verses

Jonah's Prayer

2 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying,

“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
3 For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away
    from your sight;
yet I shall again look
    upon your holy temple.’

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

Jonah Goes to Nineveh

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” 3 So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city,[a] three days' journey in breadth.[b] 4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day's journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.

The People of Nineveh Repent

6 The word reached [c] the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”

10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

Jonah 3:3 Hebrew a great city to God
Jonah 3:3 Or a visit was a three days' journey
Jonah 3:6 Or had reached

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Image: Luther's Seal © Higher Things

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Morning Prayer Reading 65: Jonah Part 1

 Jonah 1 
(selective verses)

Jonah Flees the Presence of the Lord

1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2 “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil[a] has come up before me.” 3 But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

4 But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. 5 Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. 6 So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea

7 And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. 8 Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” 9 And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard[b] to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

Jonah 1:2 The same Hebrew word can mean evil or disaster, depending on the context; so throughout Jonah
Jonah 1:13 Hebrew the men dug in [their oars]
Jonah 1:17 Ch 2:1 in Hebrew
Jonah 1:17 Or had appointed

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good 
Luther's Seal © Higher Things

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Mid-week Advent 2

Advent 2 Mid-week
11 December 2019
Romans 15:4-13
The basis for hope: the coming of Christ

We live at a time in which hope is in short supply. Many in this country seem disillusioned disappointed and doubtful. We once hoped education would solve our problems. We no longer hope that one war will end all wars. 

Some hopes were raised when a new administration took over in Washington. But many have grown dissatisfied and impeachment is looming. It seems now our country is divided. And in many ways - out of sorts.  

Can a person hope in anything anymore? Now we are in the Advent season. A season of hope for a new age through a coming Deliverer. Will this be an empty hope too? One thing is sure. There is no good reason to hope in man. But we can hope confidently in Christ. 

Tonight we consider the roots of our hope –

1.    The roots of our hope are found in the Scripture – V. 4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

We can hope in the promises of Scripture for God is faithful. Here Paul defends his application to Christ. “Zeal for Your house consumes Me…” - Psalm 69:9 

In so doing, Paul states a great truth concerning the purpose of Scripture. It was written for our instruction. So that as we patiently endure we might be encouraged to hold fast our hope in Christ. 

These things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did…These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” -  1 Corinthians 10:6, 11

2.    The roots of our hope center in the coming of the Son of David – V. 12 “And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in Him.

We can hope because Christ is coming again to set things right. Jesse was the father of David. And the Messiah was the “Son of David”.  The Gentile mission of the early church was a fulfillment of this prophecy. As is the continuing evangelization of the nations.

3.    The roots of our hope center in the God of hope – V. 13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

If we have Christ. We can hope. For HE is the God of hope.  Any hope the Christian has comes from the Spirit of Jesus. Paul will say in Romans 5:5 “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us.” 

Your hope is not to be equated with unfounded optimism. To the contrary. It is the blessed assurance of our future destiny. It is based on the Father’s love, which is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

It has been objectively demonstrated to us in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the Holy Spirit the Father has poured out His love in our hearts and His love for us continues to dwell in each believer. 

The Spirit of Christ dwells in you.  Hope cannot be conjured up by man’s effort; it is the Father’s gift of the Spirit.  Paul will say in Romans 8:24-25 – “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” 

True, we are saved by faith, not hope. But hope accompanies salvation. Hope is our destiny.  Hope is our future in Christ. Hope is the anchor of our faith. Hope is our assurance that a mansion glorious awaits us.

We hold fast our hope in Christ. We can hope because Christ is coming again to set things right. If we have Christ, we can hope. For He is a God of hope.  Any hope the Christian has comes from the One in whom we trust. 
Passive Sentences-17%
Reading Level-4.5
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts copyright © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Morning Prayer Reading 64: King Hezekiah

Isaiah 38 
(selective verses)

Hezekiah's Sickness and Recovery

38 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.”[a] 2 Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Please, O Lord, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

4 Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: 5 “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.[b] 6 I will deliver you and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria, and will defend this city.

7 “This shall be the sign to you from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he has promised: 8 Behold, I will make the shadow cast by the declining sun on the dial of Ahaz turn back ten steps.” So the sun turned back on the dial the ten steps by which it had declined.[c]

Isaiah 38:1 Or live; also verses 9, 21
Isaiah 38:5 Hebrew to your days
Isaiah 38:8 The meaning of the Hebrew verse is uncertain

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Image © Higher Things

Monday, December 9, 2019

Morning Prayer Reading 63: Naaman

2 Kings 5 
(selective verses)

Naaman Healed of Leprosy

5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper.[a] 2 Now the Syrians on one of their raids had carried off a little girl from the land of Israel, and she worked in the service of Naaman's wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “Would that my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” 4 So Naaman went in and told his lord, “Thus and so spoke the girl from the land of Israel.” 5 And the king of Syria said, “Go now, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel.”

So he went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels[b] of gold, and ten changes of clothing. 6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you Naaman my servant, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” 7 And when the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Only consider, and see how he is seeking a quarrel with me.”

8 But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent to the king, saying, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come now to me, that he may know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman came with his horses and chariots and stood at the door of Elisha's house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. 12 Are not Abana[c] and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

2 Kings 5:1 Leprosy was a term for several skin diseases; see Leviticus 13
2 Kings 5:5 A talent was about 75 pounds or 34 kilograms; a shekel was about 2/5 ounce or 11 grams
2 Kings 5:12 Or Amana

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Image: ©  Higher Things 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Time in the Word - Advent 3

09-14 December 2019

When Messiah Comes

Advent three deals with the identity of the Messiah. The Gospel lesson (Matthew 11:2-11) assures us that Jesus is the Messiah promised of old and that John the Baptizer is the greatest of the prophets because he prepared the way for the Messiah. The Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 35:1-10) shows what kind of world we will have when the Lord comes to save us; utopia, paradise, healing and joy. The Epistle lesson (James 5:7-10) takes us to the post-Easter experience when followers of the Messiah are urged to patiently wait for his Second Coming. At this Second Coming, the promised paradise in the Old Testament lesson will become a reality. Since Jesus is the Coming One, He is worth waiting for with patience. In the Prayer for the Day we ask for “the wisdom to see Your purpose” the purpose of Christ is seen in the works of Jesus.

In the Gospel we come to the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah. In the Old Testament we are given a description of the conditions resulting from the messiah’s coming to earth. Here we see the fulfillment of these conditions in Jesus’ ministry. 

But, the question may be asked, “Why do these conditions not exist on earth since Jesus came about 2000 years ago?” 

The answer is given by James in the Epistle lesson who exhorts us to patiently wait for the Messiah’s Second Coming when these conditions will become a reality for all of God’s people.

Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent: Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayers and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to prepare the way of your only Son. By his coming, give us strength in our conflicts and shed light on our path through the darkness of this world.

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share His wisdom and become one with Him when He comes in glory, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Lord, free us from our sins and make us whole. Hear our prayer, and prepare us to celebrate the incarnation of Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Psalm 85: God of love and faithfulness, You so loved the world that You gave Your only Son to be our Savior. Help us to receive Him as both Lord and brother and freely celebrate Him as our gracious Redeemer now and forever.

Collect for Psalm 146: God of glory and power, happy indeed are those who have put their trust in You. shine the brightness of Your light upon us that w may love You always with a pure heart and praise Your forever. Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Morning Prayer Readings for this week

December 09 Monday Naaman & Gahazi      2 Kings 5
December 10 Tuesday King Hezekiah      Isaiah 38
December 11 Wednesday Chapel
December 12 Thursday Jonah Part 1              Jonah 1
December 13 Friday Jonah Part 2              Jonah 2-3

Catechism Review: 6th & 7th Petitions of the Lord’s Prayer

Monday, 09 December  2019Psalm 85 - The Antiphon for this coming week’s Introit comes from verse 7, "Show us Your unfailing love, O Lord; and grant us Your salvation." God’s sure mercies to His people spring from His covenant of live, to which in His faithfulness and righteousness He remains true, and that assures His people will receive His abiding peace.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019Psalm 146, key verse, 1b – “Praise the lord, O my soul!” The Psalm appointed for this coming Sunday is an exhortation to trust in the Lord and is the first of five Hallelujah psalms with which the Psalter closes. This, and the remaining four psalms, are all framed with Hallelujahs.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019Isaiah 35:1-10 – When God comes to save His people, they will enjoy paradise.  The Old Testament lesson speaks of the conditions resulting from God’s coming to His people. When God comes to save His people, they will enjoy paradise. Advent 3 deals with the identity of the Messiah. At the second coming, the promised paradise will become a reality. Our lesson shows us what kind of world we will have when the Lord comes to save us:  paradise, healing and joy.

Thursday, 12 December 2019James 5:7-11 – Be patient in waiting for the Lord’s return. In our Epistle lesson, James expresses patience in waiting for the Lord’s return.

He exhorts us to patiently wait for the Messiah’s Second Coming. Since Jesus is the Messiah, He is worth waiting for with patience.

Friday, 13 December 2019- Matthew 11:2-15 – John the Baptizer sends a delegation to learn if Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus says John is the greatest of the prophets.  In the Gospel lesson, we are given evidence that Jesus is the Messiah. John the Baptist sends a delegation to learn if Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus says John is the greatest of the prophets. We come to the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah.

The ultimate confession to be a Christian is to say Jesus is Lord, or the Messiah (Christ). How does one come to such a conclusion? We dare not take anybody’s word.  Rather, we find out for ourselves by studying the evidence. This is what Jesus told the disciples of John the Baptizer to do and then to go back and let John know what has been said and done. We do not take our faith on hearsay. Rather, we base our faith grounded in fact.

Saturday, 14 December 2019Romans 13:11 – This verse is the inspiration for the hymn, “Hark, a Thrilling Voice is Sounding”. Paul reminds us that the certain coming of the end of this present age is used to provide motivation for godly living. {See Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 13:33-37; 2 Peter 3:11-14} The time of salvation, the closing period of the present age, before the consummation of the kingdom remind us that now is the hour. The time for action is now. The full realization of salvation at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is nearer now then it was before. Every day brings us closer to the second advent of Christ. Our prayer is simple, “Come; come Lord Jesus, come even today!”
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Collect for Pentecost 24 from Lutheran Worship © Concordia Publishing House
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series C by John Brokhoff © 1979 CSS Publishing Lima OH
For All the Saints A Prayer Book for and By the Church Vol. II © 1995 by the American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY 
The Story of 50 Hymns © 1934 By General Mills, Inc Minneapolis, MN

Advent 3 Series A

Advent 3 Series A
(15 December 2019) 

Isaiah 35:1–10
James 5:7–11
Matthew 11:2–15

Lord Jesus Christ, we implore You to hear our prayer and to lighten the darkness of our hearts by Your gracious visitation;  

The Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ Brings True Rejoicing, Even Under the Cross

Sometimes life requires the astonishing patience of Job. Like him, we are to rejoice in the midst of affliction, be grounded in repentance under the cross of Christ and hope relentlessly in His resurrection, that we might see “the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11). Therefore, in the promise of the Gospel, “be patient” and “establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8). Like John the Baptist, whatever your own kind of prison or suffering may be, call upon Jesus and receive the strength of His Word from those He sends to you. For as “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up” (Matthew 11:5), so is the Good News of Jesus preached to you also. He comes and restores the fortunes of Zion, His holy Church, so that “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 35:10).

Mathew 11:2-15
Messengers sent from John ~ 

Matthew 11:2 
Ὁ δὲ Ἰωάννης ἀκούσας ἐν τῷ δεσμωτηρίῳ τὰ ἔργα τοῦ χριστοῦ πέμψας [a]διὰ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ 
Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples

Matthew 11:3 
 εἶπεν αὐτῷ• Σὺ εἶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ἢ ἕτερον προσδοκῶμεν; 
and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, (technical term for the Messiah, 'the Advent one'...) or shall we look (expect)  for another?"

Release from the prison (see Isaiah's prophecy) has not happened yet...

This is the Devil's temptation, "did God say?"

John's "best life now" is not very wonderful.  Yet he sends his hearers to Christ.  

Circumstances do not dictate strength of faith. 

The question is asked in faith. Thus it is a good question.  

Matthew 11:4
καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς• Πορευθέντες ἀπαγγείλατε Ἰωάννῃ ἃ ἀκούετε καὶ βλέπετε• 
And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see:

Matthew 11:5 
τυφλοὶ ἀναβλέπουσιν καὶ χωλοὶ περιπατοῦσιν, λεπροὶ καθαρίζονται καὶ κωφοὶ ἀκούουσιν, [b]καὶ νεκροὶ ἐγείρονται καὶ πτωχοὶ εὐαγγελίζονται•
the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Literally "are evangelized")

The blind "look up" they see from above. 
The expected Messiah is here.

Pay attention to the verbs, because of Jesus, we are “raised up,” “cleansed,” “healed,” “have good news preached.”

Matthew 11:6 
καὶ μακάριός ἐστιν ὃς [c]ἐὰν μὴ σκανδαλισθῇ ἐν ἐμοί.
And blessed is the one who is not offended (scandalized on behalf of) by me." 

See the beatitudes of Jesus, "on account of Me"

The scandal is whom He will associate the poor, lowly, sick, imprisoned, weak, etc. 

How does God come to us? 

Matthew 11:7
Τούτων δὲ πορευομένων ἤρξατο ὁ Ἰησοῦς λέγειν τοῖς ὄχλοις περὶ Ἰωάννου• Τί ἐξήλθατε εἰς τὴν ἔρημον θεάσασθαι; κάλαμον ὑπὸ ἀνέμου σαλευόμενον;  
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: 

Matthew 11:8 
ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε ἰδεῖν; ἄνθρωπον ἐν [d]μαλακοῖς ἠμφιεσμένον; ἰδοὺ οἱ τὰ μαλακὰ φοροῦντες ἐν τοῖς οἴκοις τῶν [e]βασιλέων [f]εἰσίν. 
What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

Jesus will ask three questions."What did you go out to see?"  Defending John and speaks of the scandals that come in following Jesus.

"What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” A reed shaken by the wind?
John is an enemy of the king...thrown into prison, who will die a martyr's death.

Matthew 11:9
 ἀλλὰ τί ἐξήλθατε[g]; προφήτην ἰδεῖν; ναί, λέγω ὑμῖν, καὶ περισσότερον προφήτου. 
What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.

Matthew 11:10
[h]οὗτός ἐστιν περὶ οὗ γέγραπται• Ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ὃς κατασκευάσει τὴν ὁδόν σου ἔμπροσθέν σου. 
This is he of whom it is written, "'Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.' 

 “Behold" Ἰδοὺ right here and now, before your face, in present existence, in time and space, “I send you my messenger –“  

"More than a prophet," is explained in v.11

Matthew 11:11
 ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐκ ἐγήγερται ἐν γεννητοῖς γυναικῶν μείζων Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ• ὁ δὲ μικρότερος ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τῶν οὐρανῶν μείζων αὐτοῦ ἐστιν. 
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he

This is a reference to Christ, ('let him who is great among you be the servant') and to the apostles ('one untimely born') 

Remember in Matthew's gospel less is great. 

Matthew 11:12
 ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν ἡμερῶν Ἰωάννου τοῦ βαπτιστοῦ ἕως ἄρτι ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν βιάζεται, καὶ βιασταὶ ἁρπάζουσιν αὐτήν. 
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

Pharisees by the law, Zealots by terrorism, pagans by slaughter, e.g. Pilot mixing the blood of the sacrifice with worshipers.

The "days of John Baptist" are defined in vs. 13. John has a foot in both Testaments... He is the embodiment of all the Old Testament prophets and clearly proclaims Christ. 

Matthew 11:13
πάντες γὰρ οἱ προφῆται καὶ ὁ νόμος ἕως Ἰωάννου ἐπροφήτευσαν• 
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John,

Matthew 11:14
 καὶ εἰ θέλετε δέξασθαι, αὐτός ἐστιν Ἠλίας ὁ μέλλων ἔρχεσθαι. 15 ὁ ἔχων [i]ὦτα ἀκουέτω. 
and if you are willing to accept it, (willing to receive it) he is Elijah who is to come. He points to Christ, I will send you the prophet See the last verses of Malachi 

Matthew 11:15
ὁ ἔχων [i]ὦτα ἀκουέτω.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software