Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is among the most influential teachings in history. An untold number of articles, Bible studies, and sermons have been taught from it. It warns us, encourages us, and also teaches us the way that we need to go. One such instance of this is when the Lord speaks of the two gates and ways. In it, He says, “Enter in by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter in by it. 14 How narrow is the gate, and restricted is the way that leads to life! Few are those who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).
Jesus begins this portion of His sermon by exhorting His hearers to enter through the narrow gate. For years, I felt like that was a surprising way to start the thought. Especially since He immediately changes His topic to the gate and way that we should not travel. As I reflect on it further, it actually does make sense.
The reason is because the consequences of not entering by the narrow gate are horrible.
If one has entered the wide gate and the broad way, then the end result is destruction.
This is in contrast with the narrow gate and restricted way. They lead to life. From looking at the text, it is apparent that there is no third way. Despite how bad some want there to be an alternate path, it doesn’t exist. If there was one, God would have told us.
In regards to the broad and restricted ways, we are on one or the other. Likewise, the gate we entered is either the wide or narrow one. We cannot go through the wide gate, and then somehow make it to the restricted way that leads to life.
Such thoughts are contrary to what people may want to hear, but Jesus speaks of one gate and way together. He doesn’t separate the wide gate from the broad way. The only exception is when he exhorts us to enter by the narrow gate. Even so, He doesn’t do that at the end of His teaching. As such, I seek to do the same. I want everyone to enter through the gate and way that leads to life!
However, up to this point I have purposely omitted a couple of key details.
The first is that there are many who are traveling the way that leads to destruction. Not just a few, but rather a great multitude. This is tragic, and reminds us of our need to speak of the one way that leads to life. That being, the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Nobody comes to the Father but through Him, so we need to be willing to preach Christ to all.
This way that leads to life is different than the other in an obvious way. There are only a few who will go down it. Because Jesus’ words are so strong, we cannot assume that we are one of these few. The consequences of being wrong are too grave to do such a thing.
The less obvious difference between the restricted way and the broad one is that the former has to be sought out. It has to be found. It isn’t something that people will reach by accident! We must be diligent in our study of the Word of God to determine where the narrow gate is located so we can enter through it, and how to journey along the restricted way. If we do so, we can be assured of life with God after this life is over!
Path in the Forest With Trees by Robert_C from Pixabay.