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Jun21TueJune 21, 2022
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV)
This passage comes from the concluding section of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). There is so much to learn from these three chapters and it would be well worth your time to read and pray on each segment over a period of several weeks – perhaps starting today.
With this passage Jesus is nearing the conclusion of his sermon and has clearly described the character of those who choose to follow him. They are poor in spirit; they mourn for those who are lost; they are prepared to submit humbly to the Lord; they have a thirst for righteousness; they willingly show mercy; and with a pure heart they seek to reconcile those in conflict. Their earthly reward for this is to be persecuted – sometimes even by those they thought were friends. Their ultimate reward will be quite the opposite.
In these two simple verses, Jesus gives us a clear description of two very different gated roads. One is wide and well travelled; there will be many people travelling this road. There are fewer people to be found on the other road as it is narrow, its entrance guarded by a very small gate. I would suggest that the going is much more difficult as well.
At the very end of the sermon, we read that “the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.” Matthew 7: 28-29 (NIV). They were probably thinking, “Wow, no one has ever taught like this”; or “Who would have thought that we should love our enemies and avoid judging others? After all, everyone does just the opposite, so what’s the big deal?”
The big deal is that in our passage, Jesus is asking us – challenging us – to make a choice. Will we choose to be part of the Kingdom of This World; or will we choose to be part of the Kingdom of Heaven?
It is along the wide path is that most of the world travels. There is plenty of room, and space to wander and explore every personal desire. Because it is such an easy route with no real challenges – moral or otherwise. It is certainly the readily accepted choice. Those on this path believe they are free and open-minded. They see themselves as tolerant of others – at least of those who follow their same path and believe as they do. Conversely, those who choose not to follow this path are seen as misfits or troublemakers, and are often ridiculed and persecuted.
But, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.” Psalm 1: 1-6 (NIV)
The narrow path does not promise an easy journey and the scripture tells us that it is not easy to find. The narrow gate does not allow for the things of this world – materialism, pride, envy, and the like. To get through the gate requires us to humble ourselves before God and admit we are sinners. We must be willing to change our sinful behaviour. Because of this, many choose not to travel this path, claiming that it is too restrictive and narrow-minded; and will assert that those on this path are at a minimum completely intolerant. Should you have chosen to follow the narrow way, the big challenge is that it is far too easy to wander off and suddenly find yourself amongst the crowds on the broad way.
In ancient days, one might have correctly said, “All roads lead to Rome.” However, contrary to popular opinion, all roads do not lead to Heaven. On that matter, Jesus was absolutely clear that he was the only way to the Father (John 14:6).
In our passage, Jesus describes two roads only. One is wide and easy, the other is narrow and difficult. One leads to prosperity, the other does not. One has few travellers, the other has many. One leads to destruction and the other leads to life.
No one said it would be easy, but it’s time to choose. Which one will it be?