Summary: Some times it is easy to go along with the crowd and not really want to take on the sacrificial life which Jesus calls us to … but the consequences are disastrous because we could find ourselves on the wrong road.
“Broad or Narrow … What Road Are You On?”
Matthew 7:13-14 (text)
Congregation in the Lord Jesus Christ,
Finish this sentence in your head. “Life is a … …?”
I wonder how many of you said something like, “Life is a journey”? It is a common way to think about life isn’t it. In fact I would say that many people, be they believers or not-yet-believers, would describe life as a journey. We all know we are heading somewhere. We all sense there is a destination beyond this life. Whether we are religious or not we are all on a journey. So the big issue for each one of us is not, “Will I take the journey?”. The big issue for each one of us is, “Where is our journey going to end?”. Where is your journey going to end? That is the issue which is being addressed by Jesus. And as Jesus addresses that issue He focuses on a series of contrasts.
The first contrast is a contrast between the two gates. We know enough about gates to know what is happening here. To go through a gate means you place yourself in a particular environment … or to allow yourself to be surrounded by certain boundaries. It is not very often that you see a gate set up in the middle of nowhere without a fence attached to each side … or without it going into a structure such as a sports field or train station. Gates have the specific purpose of being the entry point. The type of gate which is used often gives an indication of what is beyond. The gate for a prison is very different from the gate for a cattle yard.
We know about gates. So we take what we know and apply it to the contrasting gates. One of the gates is a wide gate. Why is it wide? Because it is willing to allow any one to pass through without making a sacrifice on their part. When you come through the wide gate you don’t need to offload any baggage … the wide gate can accommodate it all. Those who pass through the wide gate can be themselves. After all there are many nice and good people in this world … some of them are just as nice as Christians. They should be included and tolerated. Why can’t God give some credit to such people? The wide gate is for them. It is the gate of tolerance.
• “You shouldn’t always have to make sacrifices”.
• “Sin is not so bad as long as I don’t hurt other people”.
• “I can be a Christian and still enjoy the pleasures of the world”.
We shouldn’t judge. We shouldn’t condemn. All are welcome to come through the wide gate where the only thing we don’t tolerate is intolerance.
The wide gate is the way of least resistance. It is a place where there are no restrictions concerning belief and behaviour. And it is very, very attractive. Which is such a contrast with the narrow gate.
There is a story about two brothers, the oldest of whom was the King. The younger brother had a lot of ambition and attempted to take over the throne … but he didn’t succeed. As punishment for this rebellion the younger brother was put into prison where he stayed for many years. There were some people thought punishment excessive and when they questioned the older brother about this he would always say the same thing. “My younger brother is free to leave the prison any time he pleases; go and have a look at the prison he is in”. Those who went to see the prison discovered that didn’t have a door … and there was a 50cm opening in one side. The problem is that the younger brother was a very large man who couldn’t resist his food. When he was in prison he was well fed and decided to eat the food rather than make the sacrifice to become small enough to fit through the gap.
If you want to go through the narrow gate it is going to take denial. Jesus says in Matthew 16:24 “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me”. Basically that is what the narrow gate is all about. It is only as the heart bows to the righteousness of God’s claims that we can go through the narrow gate. It is only as we submit to the demands of the Son of God that we know what it means to enter. The cleansing blood of Jesus is only available for those who are willing to throw down the weapons of their warfare against God, and surrender themselves to his holy rule. Entering through the narrow gate means entering into a life of commitment.