Summary: Jesus said there are two roads, two ways. There is God’s way which leads to life and the other way (the popular way) which leads to destruction. This sermon encourages people to seek out the small gate and narrow road that leads to life.
When Jesus spoke of two roads, two gates, two paths, he was speaking in ways which people understood. Religious teachers then always spoke about there being two ways; one which leads to destruction and one which leads to life. So that part of Jesus’ teaching was not surprising. However, the way Jesus said it was a shock, and it’s recorded in the Bible because it should still shock us today. Like a bucket of cold water being poured on my head when I am tired and sleepy, Jesus’ words should come as something of a surprise!
Jesus says that there are two paths we can follow in life. One is God’s way (verse 14) and it leads to life. The other way is not God’s way. Perhaps nothing too surprising there; but then comes the bucket of cold water. Thankfully today’s baptism water was not cold!
Jesus says that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (verse 13). In other words, many people are on a path which is popular to follow. It’s popular because most people are on it, and it’s the easiest road to travel on.
Jesus also says, “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (verse 14).
That came as a shock, because the people listening to Jesus assumed that being born Jewish automatically meant that such a person had a guaranteed place in heaven for ever and a day. Perhaps for some of us the danger is that we can believe that being ‘Church of England’ makes us all right, or being British means that God is especially pleased with us; or more likely the danger for us is that we think that we’re really quite nice people.
Popular opinion says: It doesn’t matter which religion a person follows, so long as they are sincere and so long as they don’t try to force it on me. Popular opinion says: So long as we try to be good people, if there’s a God everything will be OK.
For the person who wants to know God, and to know the fullness of life that comes from a relationship with God, Jesus warns us against simply going with the flow. Jesus warns us against simply going with popular opinion.
Much of the message of Jesus Christ is unpopular. The message that God is the intelligent designer behind the creation of the world seems to be OK with many people. The message that Jesus came into the world as a tiny helpless baby also seems to be OK with lots of people, especially around Christmas time. However, the message that we – you and me – have sinned is not a popular message at all.
The message that you and I have basically rejected and chosen to ignore God is not a popular message. The suggestion that we need a saviour, the suggestion that we need to ask God to forgive us for the mess we’ve made of the world, and the mess we’ve made our lives and the lives of other people, is not popular.
Popular opinion says ‘Do whatever you want to do, look after number one.’
When Jesus said that “wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it”, Jesus was basically saying beware of popular opinion about religion. Popular opinion might be in the majority, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.