We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who strive to go through the “narrow gate”, said… AMEN!
Last week we talked about Jesus bearing the sword, He said, I did not come to bring peace but division. Jesus says that as He brings, discipline and fruits, He is causing division. The world is not going to accept what Jesus brings. We in the world want it our way, and face it, if you have 500 people, you are going to have 500 my ways. With Jesus there is one way; “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” So when Jesus talks about a “narrow gate” He’s saying that it’s going to be His way, it’s not going to be any other way. The obfuscation, confusion, syncretism people try to create, is entirely theirs and has nothing to do with Jesus, because of this, it is those around us who create the division. Even in the church there is division, but not when we talk about the fundamental principles of the Christian faith; who Jesus is, that He was sacrificed, crucified as the perfect penalty for the sins that we have all committed against a totally just and holy God. A penalty had to be paid, Jesus paid th penalty. His sacrifice, what He did for us, He has paid for us /redeemed us, that God has saved us by the payment of sin through Jesus He is the propitiatory, complete payment of our sin. That is the narrow way, the narrow gate.
Big deal! A narrow gate, so? Just take us a little longer to get through the gate, sort of the TSA of the judgment. That’s not what that really means. In Jesus’ time, after the sheep had been grazing out in open fields during the day, the shepherd would gather the sheep together and herd them into a pen. That way sheep couldn’t wander off while the shepherd slept, and was less likely for wild animals to attack any of the sheep. The gate to that pen would be narrow. In order for the shepherd to react quickly and be an obstacle to a wild animal, the gate to that pen would be narrow enough that he would effectively close that gate with his own body. At night, the shepherd would arrange himself to lie across the sheep pen gate to sleep during the night. The sheep wouldn’t try to step over him and if a wild animal was trying to get in, it would have to step over the shepherd, which would wake the shepherd up and give him a chance to defend the sheep.
Who do you think Jesus is saying is the shepherd who has His body across that narrow entrance into the sheep pen? Gives more meaning to Jesus’ quote in John 14:6: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” If you are intended to be in that sheep pen, if you are led into that pen in the safety and salvation of Jesus, there will be no question that is where you belong. That you are under the protection of Jesus. That you have been guided by Him into eternal life. You may still be here on earth, but Jesus is making sure that there is no doubt that you are a sheep of His flock. Ron Graham writes: “The main idea is that only the shepherd has a full commitment to the sheep, and consequently has their full trust. The good shepherd will even lay down his life for the sheep, so much does he care about them.” Jesus says in: “ESV John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,” We grow in our trust and faith of Jesus and each other by knowing Him better. We are all His sheep, we need to know that the shepherd and the sheep can all be trusted. Certainly we can trust those who show us they are in Jesus. Those who know the Shepherd are going to know the sheep in the shepherd. Those are the sheep that are in the “fold”, the enclosed space of His love and protection. Being in that sheepfold doesn’t guarantee that we won’t be dinged on occasion, we certainly will, maybe even more than those who do not know Jesus. But it’s not how many of us, but who of us truly know the shepherd.
It’s pointed out that Jesus isn’t really answering the question. Well ya, why? It’s kind of the wrong question, isn’t it? Why would you or I really be concerned about how many are saved? I can be faithful in my witness, keep pushing back on people who want to push wrongheaded opinions on me, I can keep everyone I know who is not in Jesus in prayer, there are people I’ve been keeping in prayer for years that they would come to know Christ. I want those people to be saved, to be with them in the eternal resurrection. Wouldn’t I want to be around the people I was so close to in life, be with them in the eternal resurrection? But we all know that what you or I want is not the determinant factor. Jesus knows who is saved, does that mean that one of those people can’t reject Jesus and His salvation? Sure! Jesus gave them the opportunity to condemn themselves. Some call that “free-will”. It’s not, it’s self-condemnation, you can commit physical and /or spiritual suicide, but that’s not a “choice”, that is eternal condemnation. It’s certainly not a rational “choice”.
Cyril of Alexander writes: “To enter the narrow gate requires a steadfast faith and a spotless morality. The wide door is reserved for those who ignore the law and demonstrate this by their sinful behavior.” How many have a “spotless morality”, if you’re in Jesus you do. For those who basically have the “antinomian” attitude, I can thumb my nose at Jesus, the Law doesn’t really matter, do what I want because Jesus loves me and forgives me!? “SV John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” I don’t understand how someone can claim to be saved, decide they’re going to stay out of the sheepfold in their life, and basically tell Jesus when I’m ready I will get it together and be in the sheepfold. At what point does Jesus decide: “you don’t love me because you don’t obey me”, “I can’t trust you as part of my flock because you reject being part of the flock”, …
The epistle lesson in Hebrews: “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Heb 12:4) Sound a little harsh, not what you expected? Do you usually discipline the neighbor’s children, scold the child screaming on the airplane or the mall? They’re not yours, it’s not up to you to scold them. If it’s your child? Yeah you do. That’s a good thing, if that’s true and we know we’re getting scolded or disciplined by God, what does that mean? We are God’s, we are His sheep, we are disciplined in our salvation, we are Christ’s in our fruits and we are given access through the narrow gate. The rest of the passage might seem “harsh”, but Jesus is saying, you can’t run your own game over and over disregarding Jesus and then expect to knock at the door and expect the owner of the house to rush down and throw that door open to you. You don’t know His voice, Jesus said strive to enter the narrow way. But in your life what have you done? Gone down the main boulevard with everyone else who is much more interested in their own agenda then salvation in Jesus and then later on show up at the door, go to the protection of the sheepfold and expect the door thrown wide open to you? Just doesn’t make sense. You expect sense and understanding from God and then treat him senselessly and expect him to then act senselessly and rush down to open the door for you? God’s not stupid, He’s not going to play the game. He gives us an immense amount of mercy and grace, but that doesn’t mean He gives license, He’s not an enabler and it’s certainly not your “striving to enter the narrow door.” You want the wide door and the world’s agenda and to ignore Jesus. To think the wide way is supposed to lead to the protection of eternal life in Jesus completely ignores what Jesus has told us right here. The wide way, wide gate Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14; “…wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it.” You have to get into that sheepfold over Jesus’ Body or over one of the walls. Is Jesus laying at that entrance for no reason, just to welcome you despite that He says that few are allowed through that door? Spending a life ignoring His laws, His voice, and then expect to stand outside that door knocking and receive an open arms welcome? What does Jesus say: “…I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth…” Jesus’ words not mine. Not a place you want to end up in, we want the safety and comfort of the sheep pen, but we have to make sure we’re permitted in the narrow gate at the leading of our Lord. Do some journaling this week and write about what that “narrow way” is, who do we know not interested in the narrow way?
The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah
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