Quest for Hope
A Narrow Gate 3-16-16
Yesterday, we read about the religious blindness that hinders humanity from taking a posture of repentance before God. When we repent, we are choosing to turn to God’s way of doing things. God’s way and purpose for us is for grace to cause us to bear fruit. Today, in our quest for hope, we will explore a statement from Jesus about the “narrow gate” that leads to the Kingdom of heaven, as well as the difficulty humans encounter trying to enter.
Luke 13:22-27 (NLT)
The Narrow Door
22 Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, always pressing on toward Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
He replied, 24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26 Then you will say, ‘But we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 And he will reply, ‘I tell you, I don’t know you or where you come from. Get away from me, all you who do evil.’
In our passage from Luke, we recognize Jesus is deliberately going to Jerusalem and knew he was on his way to die. On his way, like a highway of holy Hope, he preaches the truth of the Father’s heart to every person that would listen. The thought of death never hinders his focus, or limits his passion for walking in God’s ways and fulfilling the Father’s will.
Here are a few things we can discern from Jesus’ response in our passage: Salvation takes work (translates as strive/contend); we must go through the narrow door/gate. ONE…not plural, doors/gates.
How does the knowledge that Jesus tells us salvation takes effort and work balance with the knowledge that we are to received salvation by grace through faith?
I must admit it takes great effort to travel in a direction that is against the flow of majority. It’s emotionally painful and it’s physically dangerous at times. Look how Christians have been martyred for their faith.
Effort is all about our attitude toward eternal salvation; we ought to be very serious about it. There is no place for half-hearted commitment; it is work to go through the narrow gate/door.
My experience has revealed the difficulty in entering is that God’s ways do not always make sense to our natural and world-influenced minds.
We must be entirely committed to the hope we place in Christ for salvation; just being associated with Jesus (eating, drinking, listening to teaching) will not be enough. We must establish our identity in Christ.
Clearly, Jesus teaches there is a deadline to salvation and some will miss it; the door/gate will close shutting some folks in while shutting some out.
John 10:9 “I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
The narrow Gate (Jesus) is all about restoration in the Kingdom economy—the resources of heaven. We are invited to leave the world’s economy—resources the word values—and choose to live for the King who longs to bring the Kingdom of heaven on earth. Let’s open God’s Word further to gain some answers on our quest for hope and other passages that share some similarities with the information in this lesson.
Isaiah 35:8. The prophet Isaiah teaches about the path or River of Life that will one day pass through the dry places where no one is walking and call us to follow. “And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.”
Matthew 7:21-23 True Disciples “Not everyone who calls out to me, Lord! Lord! will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, “Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name. But I will reply, “I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.”
Religion can be a detour to actually following Christ. Jesus rebukes the religious teachers and leaders for misleading.
Mark 23:27-28 “For sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Matthew 7:13-14. In the gospel of Matthew, we find Jesus’ teaching the sermon on the mountain where we also hear about this “narrow gate.” Jesus says, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”
We cannot follow the example of the world’s culture and enter the narrow Gate that is for sure:
James 4:4, 6 “Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I saw it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires.”
1 John 3:7-10 “Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does to live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.”
Luke 13:27 So let’s go back to our passage and one of the last verses. Jesus said, “I don’t know you are where you come from.” In other words, “You are not imitating me.”
True acceptance of Jesus always results in a changed life; the way we live changes as we connect to Christ…because, Christ is connected to the Commandments. The commandments teach us to love God and love our neighbors.
Mother Theresa Quote: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Story: A son took his father to a restaurant to enjoy a delicious dinner. His father was a senior well up in age, and therefore, a little frail and weak. While the father was eating, a little bit of food fell from time to time on his shirt and his trousers. The other diners stared at the old man, but the son remained totally calm.
Once both of them are done eating, the son, without being remotely ashamed, helped with absolute peace of mind his father and took him to the restroom. He cleaned up the leftovers from his wrinkled face, and tried to wash the stains of food from his clothes, and lovingly combed his hair gray hair.
On the way out of the restroom, a profound silence reigned in the restaurant. No one could understand how this young man had managed this level of true love. The son was going to pay the bill, but before he left, a man, also of advanced age, rose from among the diners, and asked the son of the old man: ” Don’t forget that you’ve left something here? “
The young man replied: “No, I haven’t missed anything”. Then the stranger said to him, “Yes you’ve left something! You left here a lesson for each child, and a hope for every father!” The entire restaurant was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.