Sermon On The Mount Devotional Blog 28

Sermon On The Mount Devotional

Narrow Lanes

Read Matthew 7:13-20 (ESV)

“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. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?  So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

Years ago, while I was in high school, I had the privilege of living in Europe for three and half years. My father was in the Army and we were stationed in Stuttgart, Germany for three years. Prior to moving to Germany, we lived in Rome, Italy for six months. These were truly amazing times. Travel, food, and new peoples all lay before us. One of the characteristic marks, one among many, that differentiated what we would experience, was rules for the road. In Germany cars raced along the Autobahn, unhindered by speed limits in most places. In Rome however, most who drove seemed unhindered by an awareness of lanes, stop signs, or the presence of other drivers. On the city streets lay many intersections, broken up by traffic lights. It was truly an amazing sight to come to a stop light over one or two lanes, dotted with four, five or six cars, side-by-side, all vying for position and awaiting a quick burst of speed to dart out ahead of the others. It seemed a chaotic mess. Many would ignore the clearly marked lanes, choosing instead to jockey for position before they raced on their way. Nothing seemed to hinder these drivers, and I did not ever see a policeman stopping this strange practice. 

Contrast this with the narrow, back alley roads that could only fit one car down its length. Nothing could change the number of cars that could fit, because of the alley walls where old buildings lined each side, dictating how many cars could drive down it at once - one! One time I remember my father driving our enormous (compared to European cars) Buick station wagon down one of these narrow alley ways. At that moment, even though we were a single vehicle, we could not fit down this extremely narrow roadway. It was too massive compared to the tight building-lined street. A tiny Italian car called a Micheta could have driven the narrow alley way but our car could not. 

Twenty-first century man hates narrowness, especially in regard to thinking. Just as our large Buick was unable to fit through the alley, sinful man, apart from Christ, cannot understand Christianity and calls it narrow. Modern man thinks that “many” is the best way to describe our current world of thought. When it comes to salvation, some have compared man’s search as a mountain, with man at the bottom and “god” at the top. Each of us, or so goes this analogy, starts his path to the top. Each must navigate his own search, be it for enlightenment, meaning, “forgiveness” or salvation. What is often said is that the path is less important than the journey. The destination is not as key as the trip. So, some seek to bring together all of the majority of world religions on one mountain-path journey. We all seek after the same “god” they say; we are just on a different path or side of the mountain. Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism or any of the other “isms” that are out there all seek the same “god”, just on a different trail, by a different name according to this line of reasoning. They want to argue that the door into “heaven” is wide and easily entered.

Jesus states in this passage that this is false. “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.” Jesus actually says that the opposite to what the world says is true. They say that the gate or door to heaven is wide while Jesus is saying that the path to destruction or hell is the actual wide path. The gate to heaven is narrow because there is only one way in and that is through Himself. 

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes many different “I am” statements - “I am the Bread of Life,” “I am the Good Shepherd,” and “I am the Vine” to name a few. Two others that particularly related to our passage here in the Sermon on the Mount are, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” and “I am the Door”. Jesus came and destroyed the idea that there are many ways or paths to get to God. He is the only way. It is through Him that we discover truth, the truth - and that is Jesus. He also makes the statement that He is the Door. This connects to what He is teaching here because, while there is one path to God -through Jesus, there is also one door or entrance to get in. It is only through placing our faith and trust in His life, death, and resurrection that we can gain entrance into eternity. We must be made right with God by having our sins paid for on the Cross and by having Jesus’ righteous life and record credited to our account. Entrance into Heaven is simple, but it is costly and narrow. 

When we are sharing the good news of Jesus with someone, we must be bold in holding to the “one way, one door” teaching of Jesus. We need not be ashamed to tell others that Jesus is the One Who claimed to be the only way, the only truth “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God will not quit. Hence, the Golden Rule (as well as all of the SOM) is as much a statement of where God is taking the Christian and it is a standard by which the goodness of the natural man is judged. What will it be? Will you flail away at that or some other standard, and be judged by it? Or will you surrender to Christ, letting God enter your life and remaking you into his image? If you let him, he will turn you into the kind of being who really will think first of others and will reflect back to God, like a pure mirror, some of his own limitless glory, power, love, and goodness. The process may be painful at times, but it will be certain. And you will not miss the goal.” (pg. 246)

 and the only life. As you share these truths with others, remind them that Christianity is the only world religion in which God Himself came in the form of man and made the ultimate payment and sacrifice for sin

So, What Now?

In Joshua 24:15 we read, “Choose for yourself this day whom you will serve. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Let this be the cry of our hearts and the question that we will ask, “Whom will you serve today?” as we boldly proclaim, “By God’s grace, I serve the Lord.”