WILL THE REAL ME PLEASE STAND UP? (MATTHEW 7:13-27)
My fellow department coworker Roy returned from a holiday (July 31, 2017) and posted a scrrenshot to our chat group: “Rev Yap, look at this picture! Seems like your book has been pirated, Chinee IT people just told me abut it.”
The pirated copy of my book Fellow Disciples was selling for RMB$20, a huge drop-off from the HK$110 they sell in Hong Kong bookstores. When I reposted it to friends the response was hilarious:. Some were mad while others were tickled. The emojis ranged from angry emoji, shocked emoji to laughing emojis. Some said, “Praise the Lord” and others said, “You are famous.” The best suggestion was to order a copy to see if the contents were the same, which I never did.
The Sermon on the Mount, which begings in Matthew chapter 5 ends with at least three obvious contrasts: the straight gate and wide gate (v 13), the good fruit and the evil fruit (v 18), and the wise man (v 24) and the foolish man (v 26). Life has its crossroads or circumstances, choices and consequences, of which the worst of the lot include ending in destruction (v 13), being cast into the fire (v 19) and suffering a great fall (v 27).
What kind of choices in life please the Lord? How do we resist wrong decisions, wicked men and worthless pursuits in life? Why is the test of character a good a test as any for ourselves and the company we keep and choices we make?
Pick the Path
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Every morning where I live some residents run to a certain place – no matter men or women, overweight or skinny, young or old, high heels or tailored jackets. Why are they rushing? Where are they going? What is their purpose? They are heading to the pier to get into a eight feet wide gate to get into a ferry that will take them to Central. The next ferry on non-primetime and weekends is an hour away.
There is a notice taped to the glass door: Our staffs will, with immediat effect, close the pier gate punctually in order to facilitate the sailing on time and to minimize the interruption to the on-board passengers. Our company would like to request all passengers should reach the pier for boarding before the schedule time. For those late comers kindly please take the next sailing. Any inconvenience caused would be much regretted! 2 March 2009
Doors are eveywhere – at home, to the elevator, to bus, MTR gate and train, to work and to the restroom. Did I miss anything?
Verse 13 begins with a positve command – “enter!” The closest equivalent to this command is the similar “enter” command to the good and faithful servants: “Enter into the joy of your lord.” (Matt 25:21, 23). Further, the phrase “to life” (v 14) or “into the life” in Greek occurs merely eight times in the Bible and only John 5:24 tells us specfically what this life is: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (NASU) The heart of God is always for His creation and children to follow Him and finish well and not fall asleep, fall aside or fall apart.
The three words “narrow” (stenos), “wide” and “broad” is a progression. Narrow (stenos) has a medical equivalent “stenosis,” for the narrowing or stricture of a passage or vessel. Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the open spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves that travel through the spine to your arms and legs. Wide (plateia) is another translation for streets (Matt 6:5). In Greek plateia or platia for town square. Broad is (euruchoros), for which the preposition ‘eu” is good and “chora” is translated as land (Mark 1:5), ground (Luke 12:16), fields (John 4:35) and coasts (Acts 26:20).
Destruction (v 13) is translated as waste (Matt 26:8), perdition (John 17:12), perish (Acts 8:20) and damnable (2 Peter 2:1). It is clear, complete and crushing loss or ruin. Those liable for destruction in the Bible include money (Acts 8:20), vessels of wrath (Rom 9:22), enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil 3:18-19), man of sin or the son of perdition (2 Thess 2:3), foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men (1 Tim 6:9), and false prophets, false teachers and their damnable heresies (2 Peter 2:1), ungodly men (2 Peter 3:7) and the beast (Rev 17:8).