“Strive to enter through the narrow door"
Luke 13:22-14:6 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.25 Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. 29 And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”
31 Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” 32 And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! 35 Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’”
14 It happened that when He went into the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees on the Sabbath to eat bread, they were watching Him closely. 2 And there in front of Him was a man suffering from dropsy. 3 And Jesus answered and spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they kept silent. And He took hold of him and healed him, and sent him away. 5 And He said to them, “Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?”6 And they could make no reply to this.
2 Peter 3:9 says: The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. We should though not confuse the Lord’s patience with His willingness to compromise or change His mind. We should not consider that God would relax His standards in order to fulfill His desire that none would perish. In today’s text it says: He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out. And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.” Jesus did not say, in this case, that only few would be saved, but He did say that many will seek to enter and not be able to. Just because God desires that none would perish, does not mean that none will. God gives us a free will. We choose for ourselves if we will fulfill God’s desire that we would come to repentance.
In today’s text Jesus says: “Strive to enter through the narrow door.” In Matthew 7:13-14 He says: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” That Jesus says we should strive to enter through the narrow door indicates that not only is it not the way that many choose to go, but also that it may seem to be a more difficult way. It requires that we be intentional to make the right choice. The way is broad that leads to destruction because it is the way of lies and deception, that there are many ways. In John 14:6, while it may be narrow, it is not hidden or a mystery, Jesus tells us the way: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” In truth we need not strive to enter, we need only to choose the right way. In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus says: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” In Acts 26:14, Paul tells the account of when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul was walking on the wide road of the way of the world and Jesus said: ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ In truth, if we are striving, it is because we are resisting the will and the way of God. If we will choose to follow Jesus and submit to Him and His will we will find rest. In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
It is true that God’s desire is that none would perish. It is also true though as Romans 6:23 says: The wages of sin is death. God didn’t change His mind or relax His standards regarding sin to accomplish His will that we would not perish. Instead, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) That few would find the way to life is not because God makes it too difficult. It is that they choose to believe the lies of the world, rather than the way of truth and life. The striving that we do is not to fulfill God’s desire, but to be against God’s will and against His desire. The way of Christ may be narrow but it is not difficult. He is gentle, His burden is light and in Him we find rest and life.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You that You not only provided a way, but that You are the way. I choose the narrow way. I choose to fulfill Your desire that I would not perish. I choose to yield to the Holy Spirit that I would not strive against You but rather have rest in You. Amen.