The Narrow Gate

I recently found this index card in my bible.  I’m not sure why I wrote it out. It’s stained, torn, and wrinkled. It must have had a great impact on me at some point. I decided to revisit the scripture and see what I found.

The bible verse it references is Matthew 7:13-14 and reads as follows: “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.”

In this scripture, Jesus was just finishing up his Sermon on the Mount. These verses and the ones that follow are his conclusions. He had given a lot of instruction on how his disciples should live in this world. Verses 13 and 14 were his instruction for entering his kingdom and living out his truths.

2 Gates and 2 Roads

The index card reads- “2 gates” “2 roads” “2 crowds” “2 destinations”. “The narrow gate is restrictive and does not permit entrance into what Jesus prohibits. The wide gate seems far more inviting. The broad road is spacious and accommodates the crowd and their baggage. The other road is narrow and constrictive.”

Our choices seem fairly clear-either the narrow, restrictive gate and road that few find or the wide road and broad gate that many choose.

At first glance, the wide gate seems far more inviting. It’s spacious, accommodating, and you can bring all the luggage you want with you. The path seems smooth and easy. It seems to be the popular way to go. It doesn’t seem to require much sacrifice. No changes in your life need to be made. Just come on in.

Heaven or Hell?

Then there’s that little glitch at the end that doesn’t sound like such a great destination- “destruction.” The broad road seems like a preferable path but leads to eternal death. The NLT translates the Greek word for destruction “the highway to hell.” The end of the road leads to a separation from God for eternity.

The narrow road and small gate might not sound all that inviting or easy to access. Restrictive, prohibitive, only a few even find it. Instead of a glitch at the end of this statement, however, we find a treasure right in the middle- this road leads to life.

The gate may be small, but the eternal life we find when we pass through means forever abiding in the kingdom of heaven with our God.

Make no mistake- the road and gate may be narrow, but it is plenty wide enough to accommodate the entire world if they wish to take it. At our peek into heaven in Rev 7:9, we hear about the “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.”

Jesus is the Way

The gate that leads to eternal life in heaven is called narrow. That doesn’t mean restrictive in the sense that it’s difficult to become a Christian. It means there is only one way to heaven, and that is through Christ. Jesus made it crystal clear in John 10:9- “I am the gate, whoever enters through me will be saved.” Jesus is the narrow gate.

The difficulty in the narrow, restrictive way is that being a Christian involves difficulties. We have to set aside our pride, our own desires, and the ways of the world. Our love for Jesus has to come first- before anyone or anything else in this world. Our natural bent towards sin makes following Jesus a daily battle.

When we choose Jesus, it involves a huge commitment. We give up the easy, smooth road of “going with the flow” and living our lives doing whatever we choose. We accept that by following Christ, we will be judged by others. It means we may be charged with being narrow-minded or a hypocrite.

Jesus knew it would be difficult to follow him. He says it himself in Matthew 16:24-“if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Yikes. Taking up a cross? We know what that entails.

And still, we choose it. Why? Not just for the “benefit” of eternal life in heaven, but for what Jesus promises for us here on earth.

Promises for Traveling the Narrow Road

We have access to his overflowing forgiveness, his love and guidance, and the promise that he will never leave us while we are here on earth. We know that there will be pain in this world, but he promises to carry us if the burdens become too much.

He takes us to places that are uncomfortable to teach us to be strong and to lean on him. He gives us a huge community of like-minded believers to keep us refreshed and growing in our faith.

I was watching a popular game show last week. The contestants are all really smart people. The final question was from the Latin Bible, so even if you only knew Latin and not the Bible, you might be able to figure it out

. The clue was: “In Latin Jesus says, I am ‘via et veritas et vita’– in English, these 3 words.”

Now I don’t know much Latin, but I do know Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. (John 14:6) Only one of the contestants gave the correct answer, and he seemed quite surprised to have gotten it right!

It saddened me to know that of all the supreme worldly knowledge these folks possessed, it was possible that they don’t know this about Jesus. (No judgment- they could have had a brain freeze,? etc.)

But isn’t that the way of the world sometimes? The things that seem so important to the crowd on the wide road- money, knowledge, status, trophies, medals, etc., will not make one bit of difference at the end of our life.

There are many who blindly follow the crowd down the wide road without giving Jesus a second thought. And there are those who hear, but reject him and continue on their merry way. Some hear, but resent the idea of Jesus being the only gate to heaven and refuse the narrow road.

Let’s not take our commitment to follow Jesus lightly. There is no “middle road.” He is our path (the way), the promised one (the truth) and the source of all we need (life). When we unite with him, we are uniting with God. Our lives should give glory to him.

Are we showing others superiority in acknowledging there is only one way to heaven?

Or do we live out our lives so that we are irresistible to others who want to know why we live the way we do?

Do others see Jesus when they see you?



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