Summary: Jesus teaches us about the "narrow door" of salvation. We are warned to avoid the "broad" way that leads to destruction.
Are You Listening?
The Bible is the most important book in the world. It is God’s word, and it clearly reveals the truth of this world. It is the cradle of Christ and the message of salvation. Of all the things we do in this life... work, eat, sleep, care for our families, enjoy time with friends, pursue hobbies... It is this time, the time we spend with God in His word that is the most important. Only His word can wash away our sins. Only His word produces faith and hope. Only His word leads and guides us in the truth.
If there is anything in this world that Satan does not want us to do, he does not want us to come to church. He does not want us listen to God’s word. He doesn’t want us to teach children God’s ways. But if he can’t stop us from hearing God’s word, the second best thing he tries to do is to turn us away from listening to and hearing the whole thing. Above all he doesn’t want us to listen carefully to Jesus and to believe in Him. He’s fine if Jesus is just another passenger on our bus. But he doesn’t want Jesus to be the driver.
Think about this as I read the Gospel lesson from Luke 13...
Luke 13:22-30 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" And he said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, open to us,' then he will answer you, 'I do not know where you come from.' 26 Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.' 27 But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!' 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last."
1. The Question
Notice that this man does not ask Jesus “how one is saved.” He wanted to know how many would be saved. Among the Jews this was a hot question. There was a debate between two famous rabbis about this. One said that the number saved would be one third of the world. To support this he pointed to the ancient Flood in which Noah and his three sons and their families were saved. But of these three sons, Shem, the ancestor of Israel, received the greatest blessing. The second rabbi disagreed and said that the number saved would be much less than that. He pointed out that there was a multitude of people who left Egypt during Israel’s great exodus. But it was only two, Joshua and Caleb, who actually entered into the land of promise. (See J.B. Lightfoot’s Commentary)
The Bible does tell us in many places that the number of those who will be saved will be few. Paul, the Apostle, wrote in his letter to the Romans:
“Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved.’” (Romans 9.27)
The number of those saved will be a “remnant,” a small portion of those who could have been saved. Jesus explains why at the end of Luke 13. He said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not” (13.34). Many will not be saved because they resist God’s grace.
2. Jesus’ Answer
Jesus decided not to get into a debate on how big or small that remnant of people might be. For Him it was more important to teach how a person is saved. That is certainly the more important question.
Jesus said that those who are saved are the ones who strive to enter through the “narrow door.” He says that this door is now open to anyone, but the day will come when it will close. At that time people will knock on the door and asked to be let in. But the Master will not let them in because He does not know them or where they are from. Then the people will complain that they did know Jesus. They even ate with Him and He taught in their streets. But Jesus will remain firm, “I do not know where you are from. Depart from me all you workers of iniquity.”