Summary: This text reminds us that God sets the terms and conditions for a life with Him through Jesus Christ.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
This text is part of a discourse by Jesus to His followers. From chapters 5 through 7 of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus addresses several topics and shares many aphorisms. In verses 13 and 14, He uses the metaphors of gates and roads to describe options for living. Jesus advocates and affirms using the narrow gate vis-à-vis the wide gate. The road associated with the narrow gate is described as being difficult to travel but that it leads to life as envisioned by God. The road associated with the wide gate is described as being easy to travel but that it leads to destruction. Interestingly, Jesus says that more people are likely to take the wide gate that leads to destruction than the narrow gate that leads to life. The framing of these options made it very clear to anyone with a modicum of common sense which gate led to the best outcomes – the narrow gate. In that light, I wish to elaborate on this text using the thought “It’s tight, but it’s right”.
Let’s reflect on the words of Christ. There are four points of contrast: (1) the width of the gate, (2) the condition of the road, (3) the destination and (4) the volume of travelers. Think of these contrasts from the perspective of high speed telecommunication and data communication services. You have a choice between Plan A and Plan B. Plan A offers broadband services, it accommodates many users, very simple to set up and configure, but your phone, cable and internet services will crash often and for extended periods of time. Plan B offers a smaller throughput, accommodates few users, labor intensive and time consumptive to set up and configure, but your phone, cable and internet services will seldom fail if ever. Which plan offers the best outcomes? Plan B of course. Plan B is tight, but it’s right.
Let’s reflect on the intent of Christ. In this statement, He is managing the expectations of the listening and reading audiences. Christ is letting them and us know that: (1) receiving life from God, (2) sharing a life with God, and (3) living a life for God requires some effort on our part. It means meeting God on God’s terms. It means the terms and conditions of a wholesome relationship with God are dictated by God. There is no room for negotiations. It’s tight, but it’s right.
Let’s reflect on truths of Christ. Yes John 3:16 and 17 say that God loved the world that He sent Christ to be our savior. But unfortunately, most people across time will choose a path that does not enable them to have the life that love has provided. The idea that God loves everyone but sets conditions on everyone receiving the benefits of that love seems contradictory. The idea that those persons whom we deem as unlovable could find eternal life through God’s love seems unfair. The idea that we are invited into a relationship with God through faith in Christ but not have a voice or a vote on our rights seems unreasonable. It’s tight, but it’s right.
Let’s consider the expectations of Christ. He expects us to suffer for what is good; isn’t that His job? Isn’t He the lamb slain before the foundation of the world? Why should we have to take a hard road to achieve a good outcome? We did not ask to be born, so why require hardship for a reward? Why punish us if we do not meet the expectations for a life for which we did not request? This hardly seems fair! It’s tight, but it’s right.
These two verses are extremely efficient; they say so much using so few words. These two verses serve as a warning and as a comfort. Those who are headed for destruction are alerted that they need to make a U-turn and use the narrow gate. Those who are on the path to life are encouraged to stay the course, in spite of the difficulties and challenges, and in spite of seeing the easy journey of those who used a wider gate. The scope (of the words, intentions, truths and expectations of Christ) may be tight, but it’s right.
It’s tight, but it’s right. Amen.