GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus – Sermon on Mount (Part 30)
So far this Sermon on the Mount has covered citizens of the Kingdom, their blessedness and relation to the world, the righteousness which the King grants and demands of them, and now the invitation to enter into this Kingdom. Few questions carry more importance than my eternal destiny. This question drives, puzzles and even paralyzes many around us. Death is terrifying to many people. You see it on some faces at funerals. Preoccupation with health, wealth, life duration. No greater mistake then mistaking time for eternity, of mistaking the body for the soul. Hence, the question of eternal destiny.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14.
1. Two Gates – No Misunderstanding – This is a Mixed Invitation. To date we have seen the favor and value of entering the kingdom (blessings, comfort, mercy) and the hard path as well (blessing those who curse us, persecution, insult, righteousness that exceeds the counterfeit leaders of their day). There are two gates or two ways. This is a turnstile or a fork in the road of life. One leads to life; the other to destruction. No equivocation. No fence sitting. No neutral ground in life as we know it. You are in or out.
2. The Wide Gate. Following the analogy, there is the wide, easier gate, the majority access. No question – this is the way of destruction and death. If there is a heaven (and there is), then there is a hell. The terror of this gate is real – it leads to destruction. Other passages talk about eternal torment. This is the realm of the Evil One, of Satan and his hosts, or all who have rebelled or rejected the Person and Gospel of Jesus, or the Authority of God in heaven. And it is broad, it is wide, it is the easier of the two options. Not the wise optino, not one that leads to life, but the downhill slope.
3. The Narrow Gate. One of the standard criticisms of Christianity is that it is narrow minded, that is an exclusive club, that Jesus cannot be the only option to heaven. The answer is clear to what is a question raised by Thomas: 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way? 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[a] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:5-7.
It may sound simplistic, but if you are in an airplane, your options are limited as to where you can land; if you are on a ship, where you can safely dock; if in a race, where is the finish line, reward and crown. This issue is not an exclusive club, a ‘members only’ elitism. It is that we who were dead in our trespasses and sin have been born again by the mercy and grace of God’s righteousness in Christ, and forgiven redeemed by the blood of Jesus. No wonder the banner cry of the first century church, made up primarily of slaves and outcasts, was “Jesus who has died and been resurrected.”
No surprise that the delight of followers of Jesus, or citizens of heaven by the grace and redemption of God, is this, at the end of the Bible: The grace of the Lord jesus be with God’s People. Amen. Revelation 22:21. It may be a narrow gate but is to life eternal indeed. What better or other option is there?
If the narrow gate is the path that leads to heaven and to life, there are many distractions that steer us in wrong direcitons. Next week finding and following the will of God for you.
— John Moore