Summary: Jesus, obedience, faith
The Road Less Traveled
Matthew 7:13, 14 (p. 685)
I’m not sure how many funerals I’ve done in 30 years of ministry, but it would be in the hundreds. I’ve done biker’s funerals, golfer’s funerals, hunter’s funerals, policemen’s funerals, veteran’s funerals, and the hardest of all, children’s funerals. I’ve dealt with sudden death and long illnesses.
I had a funeral last year where the family wanted two songs played: Brad Paisley’s “When I get Where I’m Goin’” and then right before I shared the sermon, Garth Brooks’ “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.” I’m serious; I kid you not. But there is one thing I’ve noticed about every single funeral I’ve ever done…no matter who the person was or the life they’ve lived, someone will always say, “They’re in a much better place.”
I know that’s a comforting thought. I know death is painful. The separation hurts, and it’s easier to deal with if we can tell ourselves, “They’re in a much better place.”
The struggle I have with this is I can’t preach anyone into heaven at their funeral. The road they’ve chosen to walk here on earth has come to an end. For some the walk was long, for others much shorter, and I’m thankful God is the righteous judge of our lives and not me or you. But Jesus says something powerful about our steps here on earth and the road we’ve chosen to walk.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14).
Let’s look today at two very different roads and how essential it is to choose the one less traveled. As with any journey we start with the entrance.
1.What’s behind door number 2?
There are some very famous and easily recognizable entrances in the world. The gate in front of Buckingham Palace, the entrance to Disney World, the Gate in front of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. You see those entrances and you immediately know where you’re headed. You know what’s behind those doors.
Jesus describes two entrances, two gates that we face as we enter life. One is wide and the other is narrow.
These are not entrances we will face at birth. Some of us will be born with a silver spoon, others a plastic spork. We do not get to choose our parents, our gender, our race, or our personalities. God has designed those in the womb. Psalm 139 says, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Each of us was created by God and for God.
The entrances to life that Jesus is speaking of come with a choice, regardless of our differences. Each and every one of us will choose the purpose and direction of our lives. And it begins with the gate we choose to open and walk through. Jesus makes it clear most people choose the wide gate.
The wide gate is easy to recognize and even easier to walk through. It’s natural, it’s well lit, there’s no real difficulty in opening this one.
I remember being in line with thousands of people at Disney World early one morning. The entrances were well marked and the crowd surged easily toward them. They almost pushed you along. It didn’t take any real effort. Just go with the flow and pretty soon I was at the ticket window handing the smiling girl my Visa so she could charge 8 billion dollars on it. Then our crew walked on into the Magic Kingdom.
Jesus lets us know the first gate is much like the one at Disney World. It’s easy to recognize, it’s huge, the flow will push you toward it, and behind that gate is the promised Magic Kingdom.
But what if you looked to your left and there was a second gate? It was tiny in comparison and only one or two people were squeezing through it. And on the other side instead of “E” ticket rides were a cross and a basin of water and a towel. Pretty simple choice for most people, huh?
The narrow gate is shaped like a cross. If I walk through this gate I walk to my death. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me.” In fact, Jesus says, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9) He states unashamedly, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except by me.” (John 14:6)