Entering the Narrow Gate
by Meg Bucher – crosswalk.com
Jesus came to seek and save the lost, but unfortunately, not all of the lost want to be found. The unfortunate reality of the narrow and wide gates Jesus spoke of is not all of us will choose correctly. Many will follow the mainstream and miss out on eternal life in heaven. The brief narrative on the Narrow and Wide Gate is the first of four warnings Jesus gave in regard to applying the Sermon on the Mount. The first being “a caution to the lost about where they are headed.” (Moody) God is patient, not wanting any of us to perish. All are welcome to walk with Jesus. For narrow is the gate.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
What Do We Know about “Narrow Is the Gate” in Matthew 7?
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6 (ESV)
Jesus came so we would live life to the full. A full life is found in following Christ, alone. “The gate that leads into the kingdom of heaven is synonymous with ‘life,’ the NIV Study Bible explains, “destruction, separation from God in hell.” No one comes to the Father but through Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life. The way Jesus made for us through the cross requires a response, and our response determines our eternal destination. “The narrow gate, small gate, and narrow way are harder to find than the wide ones and must be sought deliberately, or people will not escape destruction,” The Moody Bible Commentary explains.
Gate represents an entrance into the wall of a city, to a palace, a town, the temple, a prison, and at the time James penned these words also referred to the gates of hell (likened to a prison), or a metaphorical reference to an entrance. Interestingly, the original Greek word for narrow can be defined as straight. The gate is narrow but assured. Whereas the broad and wide way is simple to find but confusing to navigate. Jesus warned of false teachers and a lack of discipline in the verses following. (Matthew 7:15-27)
Entrance through the narrow gate is granted through believing in who Jesus is and what He came to earth to do for us. He is the Son of God and walked the earth fully God and fully man; not just a good person who performed miracles. The Christmas and Easter stories are not just stories full of wonder; they are wondrous stories because they are true! God made a way for us to escape the punishment of death for sin, and belief in Christ Jesus is the only way to enter through the narrow gate. Salvation cannot be earned by anything we do on earth; it is a gift freely given by a Savior who willingly left heaven to come to earth and die a ferociously unjust death on our accord. It’s the greatest love story of all time. Yet many, as Jesus warns, will sadly choose not to believe.
Why Did God Make the Path to Salvation Narrow?
Jesus has already done the hard work of the cross. Sent here from heaven by the Father, but with the Father in the beginning, all things were made through Christ. He knows us, intimately. God is after an inmate relationship with us. Everything we go through is purposed to draw us closer to God, to whom we come to through Christ Jesus alone. “The narrow way that leads to life is found only by faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” The Moody Bible Commentary explains.
We were created to bring glory to God. The gate is narrow because we have to continuously submit the wellspring of pride and legalism rising up in us as a result of the curse of sin and lay down our lives in exchange for God’s will for them. The New Bible Commentary summarizes, “True discipleship is a minority position, a matter of deliberately opting-out from the mainstream, but it is a matter of life and death.” Daily, God has woven a specific purpose into the breath He has blessed us with. When we fight and strive on our own accord, we take credit for our actions.
How Does One Access the Narrow Gate?
The goal of the narrow gate is to live a life that glorifies God. It may seem counterproductive to fight through the narrow gate of persecution and hardship by resting in Jesus. His burden is light, He promises. Putting it down all that entangles us is difficult! However, the possibility of missing our chance at eternity is extremely plausible if we clutch onto the desires and pursuits of the wide gate. Michael G. Vanlaningham writes, “Destruction means ‘a loss that produces utter ruin, perishing,’ and here refers to loss of eternal life.”
Those who choose to walk through the narrow gate, which signifies the beginning of life-long discipleship, become members of the church, Christ’s bride, which will never be overcome by evil. John wrote, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) The victory has already been won on the cross. Death has been defeated, and though traversing the narrow gate is persecuting and difficult, we clutch eternal joy and peace in Christ throughout the entirety of the journey. We know the end of our battle with sin on earth we will be with God in heaven, fully restored, for eternity.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14 ESV