Summary: "Someone" (vs 23) asks a general question but God desires personal questons... Thoughts on our walk toward the Narrow Door. Can be a very fun sermon. A call for people to have a deeper walk with God. Concluding sugestions at the end of sermon.
In some of our previous messages I shared from:
1) Luke 13:31-35 where Jesus weeps for Jerusalem. The Pharisees have a pretense of caring for Jesus by warning Him of Herod's plans to kill Him, all while they themselves desire to do just that. We also talked about the animal imagery used in the passage. Herod was the rascally, scheming fox while the chosen children of Israel were little chicks that won't come to God for help or protection...
2) Then last week we examined Luke 13:1-5 where Jesus tells His listeners, Repent or Perish! Quite an "in your face" statement from the Messiah. No mixing words with that one! And yet how often are we afraid to tell the truth to people about God's kingdom and address the way people live here?
Repent! Get things right with God! Or you will Perish!
Between these two bookend passages found in Luke 13 are three other stories. One is a healing, one a parable, and one an analogy - an attempt to bring a concept into our understanding by the use of known ideas and concepts. And this is the one we shall examine this morning....
Luke 13:22-30 The Narrow Door (read)
In the classic Book Pilgrim's Progress, there are two stories for the reader to enjoy.
The first is about a Pilgrim whose name is Christian. It tells of Christian's journey toward heaven and the many perils that nearly sidetrack him from making it home. It is an exciting read and helps the reader understand their walk and their trials in this life!
The second part is about his family's trials. At first they did not believe Christian's story and did not join Him on his walk to the Eternal City. But later, they saw the truth in him and longed to join him, when they decided to follow along behind - fac
ing menacing trials of their own.
In one particular chapter, Christian is having a very difficult struggle getting to where he needed to go. Some others join him, seeming to come out of nowhere, and they encourage him to "come along with us!" As you might image, but I doubt as masterfully as John Bunyan portrays it, they come to a place where only those who have entered by the gate may continue!
Imagine striving through all of life only to be turned away at the Narro Door!!!
Through this Lenten season, I've been encouraging you to join me as we walk toward Jesus' death on the cross... I've been encouraging you to fast and pray, to live a life of self-examination and self-denial - a life of repentance!
Repentance is certainly about repenting for our sins, the sins of our families, the sins of our community, the sins of our nation, the sins of our world!
But repentance is so much more!!! Repentance is being sorrowful for the things that we did not do, for the TV programs that ate up our time and took our focus OFF God. For the idle chatter that discouraded rather then the healthy talk that could have encouraged. For the personal pride that created the anger that pushed someone we loved - away. It could be that none of these were sin, they simply didn't reflect Christ in our lives...
In light of the Pilgrims Progress story, we neither helped someone on their journey nor helped ourselves towards Heaven. And isn't that a sad thought for a Believer to realize? Isn't that a sad thought for us as we approach God on Judgment Day? That today, we neither encouraged anyone nor moved forward ourselves! And doesn't that alone demand repentance?
*A Saint from the 1500's wrote this, "Show me a single person who does not believe in the Lord's law of self-denial - who can willingly practice a life of virtue!" In other words, without self-denial, there is no "picking up your cross daily" and following Jesus! No self-denial, no joining Jesus in His suffering. No self-denial, no living in the spirit! Really! Even though we may desire to walk with Christ, our own pride, our own greed, our own desires win the battle and we walk in our own nature and in our own strength!
If you have not already joined in, we still have a few weeks left before Easter.
One person's repentance, one person's self-denial, one person's decision to walk closer to God, to walk in the Spirit, to be filled with His Presence, to spend time in His word, to "wait upon the Lord", to enter their closet of prayer - just one person's decision to do this, strengthens the Whole Body of Christ!!! You are that important to God!
In today's passage, vs 23-24, a hearer, a person in the crowd asks Jesus:
23 ... "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, 24 "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.