Summary: This sermon is a salvation message.
Press on While the Door’s Open
Woodleigh Replicas & Gardens is a British Theme Park located in the heart of Burlington, Prince Edward Island. They house around 30 replicas of the most spectacular castles and cathedrals of the British Isles, among rolling hills and gardens. Melissa and I spend a few hours there one afternoon during our honeymoon.
Many of the replicas have corridors and passageways that you can walk through. Some are extremely narrow. Often times these narrows halls lead to larger sections of each castle. Some people choose a different route to the main chambers simply because they cannot manoeuvre through the tight spaces, or have a fear of cramped areas.
I enjoyed the castle exhibits, and found the journey more fulfilling by placing myself in the narrow halls. I didn’t want to miss a thing. The true joy was not always the destination, but knowing that you made it through the journey.
In our scripture today, an anonymous person asks Jesus a very important question about the kingdom. Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" (Luke 13:22,23) Shrouded in secrecy, the petitioner and his or her motives may never be known. The key to this passage is that despite the person and particular motives, Jesus chose to answer this question. Let us look at this passage together. (Read John 23-28)
Some people have suggested that this question was an attempt to thwart Jesus’ ministry. No matter who asked it, Jesus took the time to answer it. He never gave a “Yes” or “No” response. I suppose the Jesus, when preparing His answer, may have turned to face the person and replied, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24)
The King James Version of the Bible states Jesus’ response in another manner: “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”
If you have ever tried to enter a small or narrow door, perhaps you have noticed something. It takes some effort on your part to get inside, doesn’t it? When my cousins and I were younger, we loved to play in old cardboard boxes, especially the ones that large appliances would come in. My cousins would cut a small doorway in the box, and we would struggle to get inside. We figured that if we made the entrance hard for us to get it, it was a safe way to keep others, especially the girls, out.
The KJV tells us to “strive to enter in at the strait gate.” The word “strive” used in this text has the same Greek root word as the word “agonize.” If you have ever squeezed yourself through a small opening, you know there can be some pain involved. There are often struggles to be had. In fact, agony is a very fitting word to use here.
Narrow doors or gateways can be a literal “pain” to get through, but Jesus says to get through there. Often times to fit through small openings, we’ll have to shed some things, things that will not be required ahead of us.
The state of Florida has an extensive underwater cave system that stretches for miles under the ground. People from around the world will flock to Florida just for a chance to swim through these caves. Sometimes the cave openings can become so small that the divers must first take off their scuba tanks and send the tanks in before they make it through the mouth of the cave. Many people have died in Florida’s underwater caves. Some underwater caves have even been closed off.
Narrow doorways can restrict entrance. In order to enter, Jesus is implying that some things will need to be stripped away before a person can make that successful journey. To make it through, people will have to leave their burdens behind, and focus on the journey ahead.
Near the end of this verse, Jesus says that many will try, but will not get in. Why? “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ’Sir, open the door for us.” (Luke 13:25)
Before I go on, I need to make a quick observation. We have just talked about the struggled to get through the narrow gate. Let me say from reading this passage here in verse 25, the narrow gate is on the OTHER side of the door. I believe that Jesus was commanding the people to hurry up and get in the door, and to “strive to enter the narrow gate.”