Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:22-30)
Jesus told this story in response to the question of who will make it to heaven – to God’s kingdom of everlasting peace and eternal life. Many rabbis held that all Israel would be saved and gain entry into God’s kingdom, except for a few blatant sinners who excluded themselves!
Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one’s membership as a people who have entered into a covenant relationship with God does not automatically mean entry into the everlasting kingdom of God. Then he warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door. What did Jesus mean by this expression?
The door which Jesus had in mind was himself. “I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved: (John 10:9). God sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to open the way for us to have full access to the throne of God’s grace (his favor and blessing) and mercy (his pardon for our sins).
He did all of that and won redemption for us. What do we need to do?
A couple of things
If we want to enter God’s kingdom then we must follow the Lord Jesus in his way of the cross through a willing renunciation of our own will for his will – our own life for his life – our own way for his way.
In a land where there is a continual outcry about personal freedom and what some believe they are entitled to, that’s a big ask. One can almost guess the response. “To give up my way for another’s way? You must be kidding.”
Ah, now we are getting to the nub of it. The narrow gate.
It means that we live our lives knowing and claiming God’s sovereignty over us and embracing every moment as an opportunity to accept God’s love. Heaven is not about us. It is about God’s decision to save us. It is when we accept that reality that we are on the road to glory.
So today should be the day that we should enter through the narrow gate. Today we should accept the power of God’s love which surrounds us. If you are fortunate to be in a strong marriage, have healthy children, live comfortably, you can of course say, “I worked hard for this. I’ve made good decisions. I’m a responsible person.”
But we enter through the narrow gate when we say, “All that I have comes from God’s hands. God is the one who has given me my life, my abilities, my relationships. God is the one who has guided me in my wise decisions.” (Now that may seem impossible to politicians but the authentic Christian knows that everything we have is a gift from God.)
So, although I have done my best, it is God who is to be praised. If your life is in disarray, if your relationships are broken, if your health deteriorating, if you’re coping with depression or addiction, of course you could say, “I should have made better decisions. I could have seen this coming.”
But you enter through the narrow gate when you say, “Despite my faults and sins, I believe that God still loves me. This gives me the power and hope to move ahead knowing that God will not abandon me.”
Those who enter through the narrow gate understand that God is in charge. Those who enter through the narrow gate realize that for all they have done or failed to do, it is God’s action that is definitive. And God chooses to save us. What we need to do is to accept that salvation with humility and trust.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your guiding presence and your merciful love towards me. Through the gift of your Spirit fill me with courage and persevering faith to trust you in all things and in every circumstance that, I find myself. Give me the strength to cling to your promises when the world around me begins to shake or crumble. And when my love and zeal begin to waver, fan into my heart a flame of consuming love and dedication for you who are my All.”
To enter the kingdom of God we must struggle against every force or power of opposition – even the temptation to remain indifferent, apathetic, or compromising in our faith and personal trust in Jesus, our hope in holding firm to the promises of Jesus, and our uncompromising love for God above all else (the “love that has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).