Summary: Traveling Companions, Heaven and Hell, Eternity
FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE UNKNOWN 2018 - The Road Less Travelled
February 4, 2018
Matthew 7:13-14 (p. 679)
I’m not sure how many funerals I’ve done in 38 years of ministry, but it would be in the hundreds. I’ve done biker’s funerals, golfer’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 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…not 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 a 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.
MATTHEW 7:13-14 (p. 679)
“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 travelled. As with any journey we start with the entrance.
I. WHAT’S BEHIND GATE NUMBER 2?
There are some famous and very recognizable entrances in the world
SHOW 4 PICS AS RICK EXPLAINS THEM
1. The Gate in front of the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
2. The entrance to Buckingham Palace
3. and Disney World
4. Gardenside Christian Church
You see these entrances and you immediately know what’s behind these gates…you know where you’re headed.
Jesus describes two entrances, two gates that every single person will come to in their life’s journey. One is huge and the other is small.
These are not entrances we face at birth…some folks are born with a silver spoon, others a plastic spork. We don’t get to choose our parents, our gender, our race, our personalities, or location. God has designed those in our mother’s 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 and He has a plan for our lives.
The entrances to life that Jesus is speaking about come when we reach a place where Jesus calls us from our sin and selfishness to His Kingdom. And regardless of our differences…each of us will choose the purpose and direction of our lives…each of us will stand before these 2 gates and we’ll choose to walk through one of them…Jesus makes it crystal clear which gate most people will choose.
The wide gate is easy to recognize and even answer to walk through. It’s natural, well lit and there’s a crowd pushing you through it.
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, the flow of the crowd pushes you toward it, and behind that gate is a promised magical Kingdom…that isn’t real!
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)