I used to be a long distance runner as were and are many thousands of others. Very few can run a gold or silver … 95% run for the love of the sport. Their goal is personal as they compete against themselves to improve their times over the race distance … be it a 21.1, 42.2, 50, 56, 90, 100 or 161 kilometers. There are however those who will cheat whenever they can to get a better time and achieving a better placing. These are those who will be on the lookout for easier pathways, even if these are not part of the route. They will cut corners and turn before beacons. This might not seem much but when you add all the short cuts up over the distance, such runners could cut between 50 to 200 meters off their race … and be “rewarded” with a better time and placing. Going for the easier route seems to be what Matthew is saying. As we return to his shorter version … and remembering what we have discussed over the past two days … we read his version:
Mt 7:13 “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.”
Jesus is laying before His hearers as He is almost at the end of the Sermon on the Mount that there are only two pathways in life. People have one of two options. With God is it one way or without God the other. It is His way or the world’s way. A good friend who is an auditor always says … “There are no grey areas. It is either right of wrong.” That is God’s way when He says “narrow” and “wide”. We have a tendency of challenging God and even believing we know better than Him. Always remember that when we talk of Jesus we are talking of God and when we talk of God we are talking of Jesus … so what Jesus has already taught in the Sermon on the Mount reflects the narrow and wide gates and roads.
1) Jesus gives an invitation to those who would follow Him. The word “enter” as used at the start of the sentence could be an instruction or command, but here it is an invitation. Jesus does not command here … He invites people to come into His Kingdom. He knows what the alternative will be for those who do not enter His Kingdom. Remember He is the great Evangelist … and we could see the invitation as a plea to come under the roof and into the protection and care of His Father.
2) Jesus speaks of a small gate that leads to a narrow road. This is the higher life of holiness that Jesus has been teaching about. Reflect on these three chapters (Matthew 5-7). In summarizing the Law Jesus is saying the road to eternal life is a narrow one. You cannot say you love, follow and serve Jesus if you engage in the things He has been speaking against. The “narrow gate” means a straight way into a state. Look at this now:
Jn 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
The narrow gate of Matthew 7:13 is Jesus and He is the only entrance into the state that leads to “Life”. This is Life (The original has a capital L) and means life after the resurrection in heaven. We cannot emphasize it enough … Jesus and only Jesus is the way, gate, road or means to the Father and into Heaven. Irrespective what and whom other religions offer, the Bible says they are false prophets and teachers.
Ac 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
This is a huge reason for evangelism!
3) Jesus speaks of a wide gate that leads to a broad road. The meaning of the word “broad” is spacious and “wide” is broad. The picture is not just the volume of human traffic but the volume of religions offering all sorts of “ways” to reach whatever they call “eternal bliss”. One of the sad effects of Total Depravity is how one’s conscience responds to what it is offered by way of religion. Many look for a religion that suits their morals and accommodates their sin.
4) Jesus says the wide gate to the broad road leads to destruction. The word ‘destruction” means eternal misery because of the loss of eternal life. It is a state of eternal punishment and damnation into which a sinful and unrepentant person passes after death, for all eternity.
5) Jesus says the gate is small leading to a road that is narrow directing people to life. The smallness is that only Jesus is the option. It is not Jesus plus baptism or Jesus plus speaking in tongues (whatever they mean because in the Bible, tongues means “known earthly languages”), Jesus plus keeping a certain day as holy, etc. Salvation is only in God’s Rescue Plan through His Son Jesus Christ as the penal, substitutionary sacrifice to atone for sin. Once receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, sins are pardoned, power to live in repentance is received and adoption is into God’s forever family. God now sees you as He sees His Son, holy and righteous.
6) Jesus says many find themselves on the broad road leading to destruction. This is extremely emotional and traumatic because many of our immediate family and closets friends will be traveling on that broad road. Right here lies another major reason for evangelism. Also traveling on this broad road are people who have contributed greatly to science, mathematics, arts, politics, engineering, computers and IT. Whilst we thank God for their contributions that have aided us as well, we weep for their rejection of Jesus and them losing their souls to eternal hell. You see, that spacious road offering so many options opposed to Jesus’ Blood Sacrifice for salvation is the devil’s instrument to gather souls to rebel against God, but ultimately that gathering is for damnation.
7) Jesus says few find themselves on the narrow road leading to life. Actually … He adds … only a few find it. Only a few find the way to the small gate and narrow road … small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life. Don’t be too dismayed because only a “few” find the way to heaven because every single soul chosen before the creation of the world to be saved … shall be saved. The elect of God will be saved … and that number is an uncountable number implied in God’s promise to Abraham and the multitudes around the Throne of God as revealed in the Book of Revelation.
Father, thank You for choosing me before creation for eternal salvation. Please continue to bring the elect into Your Kingdom daily. Use me as an evangelistic instrument to point to the Cross so that those who are the elect might hear and be saved. Amen.