Summary: An investigation into heaven and hell...answering the questions of who, what, where, when, why, and how.
All of you know that I try to use deep theological things in my sermons...right? I am sure that you have often sat there.scratching your heads...wondering where in the world I come up with these deep theological concepts and examples. I mean, we have talked about the Three Stooges...the Lone Ranger and Tonto....Andy and Barney...we’ve even used the big green ogre Shrek as an example...but...we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface...today...we’re going to look at an example from a very deep movie...Funny Farm. I’m sure all of you recognize the title...it’s probably in your library right beside all of the Charlton Heston movies.
On the slim chance that you aren’t familiar with this particular movie let me give you a brief rundown of the events in the movie. A city sports reporter, who is played by Chevy Chase, decides to move to the country with his wife to write his first novel. Throughout the movie he has some pretty humorous encounters with his neighbors...particularly with a mailman who refuses to stop at the mailbox...he just flings the mail out the window at 60 mph....but the part we’re going to focus in on is near the beginning of the film where he and his wife are on their way to their new home. They set out in their car and are followed by the moving van. They quickly get ahead of the moving van...but...not to worry...because he has drawn the movers a map. However, while they are on their way and they know where they are going without a map...the movers...they have no idea where the destination is...and when some teenagers decide to cut down some road signs...they quickly get lost and they cannot find this mythical town of Redbud...until they go over a wooden covered bridge that one of them describes as termites holding hands...and when they do get there...they are not pleased at all. There are just some places on this Earth that are hard to find...and apparently Redbud was one of those places.
If you have your Bibles go ahead and open them up to Matthew chapter 7. We’re going to conclude our investigation into heaven and hell by taking a look at the Sermon on the Mount and we’re going to ask one more question. Up to this point we have answered questions of who, what, where, when, and how about heaven and hell....and today we are going to deal with the why question...but before we get to our question...let’s deal with today’s primary text...verses 13 and 14 here in Matthew 7.
Our question for today is simply this....why does Jesus say here that Heaven is so hard to find but Hell is not? Before we go to far into depth I think that we all need to agree that this is what he is talking about here...the narrow gate he is talking about here is our eternal award in Heaven and the broad gate he is talking about is the way to Hell. So, with that understanding...why in the world is Jesus saying that Heaven is so hard to find but hell is not? Or...is that what he is saying...maybe he has something else in mind here....but to the untrained and casual observer it would appear that is what he is saying....so we will start there.
And, once again, we are going to start by taking a look at the original language that Matthew used to write these words...and it will come as no shock to us to learn that the words that were translated here as "broad" and "narrow"...the mean literally those two things. There is no real special meaning that we need to dig out...but...that is not necessarily the case here with the word that was translated as "gate" and "way."
First, let’s deal with the Greek word "pule" (poo-lay) that is translated here as Gate. Now...if we back up here to the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount...we see who Jesus is talking to here. He is talking to a multitude of people...and at the end of chapter four we read that this multitude is not only made up of Galileans...it is also made up of people from Jerusalem.udea...the Decapolis. There are a lot of different people here...and most of them....most of them have been to Jerusalem. They have seen the walls around that city...and they have seen the gates that are used to access that city. They are getting the imagery here from Jesus...they see it in their minds...this word...it literally means a gate that gives ingress and egress from a city....so obviously what Jesus is saying here is that the physical gate to Heaven is a teeny tiny trap door and the one going to Hell is big enough to drive a 747 through...and that would entirely be the case if there wasn’t another meaning to this word...because even though it can literally mean the entrance into a city or a town or the temple...it also has a metaphorical meaning...and that meaning is the access or entrance into any state...and we’re not talking about Kentucky, Tennessee, or California when we say state...we’re talking about a state of mind...a state of behavior...the state of being righteous and being evil...Jesus says that the gate leading to righteousness...the one that you have to go through to get God...it’s like putting a football field on a 121 yard field...it’s a tight fit but it can still be done. He is also saying the gate that leads to hell...it’s like putting a postage stamp on the deck of an aircraft carrier...man...there’s a lot of room to spare. One leaves little margin for error....the other....you don’t even have to aim for it. Keep that in mind as we look at our other word here....