“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mat 7:13-14 NKJ)
Most theologians would say that verse 12 ends the Sermon on the Mount and that in the following verse Jesus makes application of the sermon. When we look back, it is easy to focus on one or two points, but that is not the intention of Jesus. He wants us to look at the whole sermon and make application in our lives of the whole and not just part. That’s a lot to take on-board, yes it is, which is why he makes the statement we will be considering today, that the gate is narrow—few want to go through.
I’ve heard sermons preached on the Matthew 7:13-14 text, linking it to 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.” Preaching that the Jesus way is the way of exclusivity and that all those outside are going to hell. This kind of preaching shows little regard or attention to the Sermon on the Mount and is practicing the very things Jesus warns against— a judgment with condemnation.
Isaiah talks about, “A highway shall be there, and a road, And it shall be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean shall not pass over it, But it shall be for others. Whoever walks the road, although a fool, Shall not go astray. (Isa 35:8 NKJ) My wife, Ann, took a trip once with friends and visited California. She recounts one journey on Route 1. The road was just two lanes with rocks on one side and a drop into the ocean on the other. Perhaps the entrance onto Isaiah’s highway is through the narrow gate and like Route 1 in California, there is little room for error. The text is not referring to heaven and hell, but about the standard of holiness expected by the Lord today, here on earth. In Pilgrims Progress, Christian was okay as long as he stayed on the road. Like most Christians, we only get in trouble when we get sidetracked, then we are in danger of destruction, trusting in a self-righteous religion rather than a living faith. Following Jesus’s manifesto for living as found in the gospels is not easy, according to Jesus, there are few who find that place in God in this life, or even try. Narrow is the gate to the enjoyment of abundant life.