Matthew 7:13-14. 13 “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. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
How would you describe Christianity? Would you use words like the ones Jesus does here in Matthew 7 – a narrow gate and a hard path? Jesus’ language is exclusive. He won’t let himself be a suggestion, or an add-on. And he especially won’t let Christianity be just one of many religions that all lead to God.
For Jesus there’s only two ways to live. Two gates with two destinations. One of them is destruction, and one of them is life.
This is obviously the opposite of everything our Enemy wants us to believe. It’s the opposite of everything we hear in our culture. Even in many of our churches. To the point where Christianity is often labeled as intolerant or bigoted. But oh by the way, isn’t imposing religious relativism on everyone just as intolerant and bigoted as imposing Jesus on everyone?
But the gospel of Jesus Christ is narrow. Few find it. Why? Because few trust Jesus alone. The way to life is as narrow as one person – Jesus of Nazareth. His is the door. He is the narrow gate. To squeeze through this door, you have to drop everything else but him. You have to lose all your self-righteous baggage. You have to make a personal decision to trust Christ alone for salvation. Have you done this?
You see the narrow gate is not about becoming more and more righteous until we are able to squeeze through the tiny morality hole into eternal life. No, that’s actually the wide gate. The wide gate leaves us reaching for God, rather than letting God reach for us. The wide gate is law keeping. It’s constantly trying to monitor your level of commitment. It’s self-righteousness.
But the narrow gate of Christ is all about losing our self-righteousness. It’s about realizing your desperate need for his grace. That’s how this whole sermon began – Blessed ARE the poor in Spirit. Admitting this need is hard. And it is narrow. Because it leaves no room for anything other than Jesus.
The narrow gate and hard path was the point of Jesus’ entire life. His life led to one and only one destination – the cross. Jesus didn’t have several options. His choice was simple – live or die. Live and we all die. Die and we all live. Jesus chose to die. He chose to give his life for the world. For you and for me. He chose the narrow gate. He chose the hard way. He chose the only way to bring resurrection – the cross and the tomb. He faced death for us so that we might face life for him.
Now the life of union with Christ is a life lived by walking through Christ as our narrow gate, and with Christ as our hard way. It’s the daily decision to reject our own way of living and embrace his cruciform life of dying. Dying to our selfish will and living for God’s will. It’s the choice to walk the hard way of grace.
The hard way of grace?
Yes. The path of Christ is so hard ironically because it’s so easy. The hard way of Jesus is his “easy yoke,” and his “light burden.” Such grace is easy to reject. And dependence is difficult to embrace. Simply trusting more is way harder than simply doing more. And so our hearts run us toward the easy but deadly path of earning and performing. Of achieving and controlling.
Turn around. Don’t lose sight of the path of Jesus. Yes, it’s hard. Trusting grace always is. But it alone will lead to the abundant life of peace and joy that Jesus promises to you today.
“To live is Christ” offers us the hard path of Jesus’ own life and righteousness, and the narrow gate of his grace and forgiveness. Which gate will you walk through today? Which road will you choose to travel?
Are you on the wide way or the narrow way today?
You in Christ
In Christ you have already passed through the gate of his death and into his life. How does this encourage you to trust him today along the “hard way?”
Christ in you
Where might you need to “course correct” today and return to Jesus’ narrow gate of faith in his grace?
Playlist: The Narrow Way.
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