Took a break from the Sermon on the Mount for a while, but I’m jumping back in this morning. Hopefully, I can be brief and “keep it moving” today, because this part really is pretty simple.
“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.”
Jesus has just given what became for us the Golden Rule – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Which is then followed by his teaching on the narrow gate. First of all, and I’ve said this before, the Golden Rule is the Narrow Gate. “Do unto others” is the way in which we enter by the narrow gate. Jesus connected them forever here, and for 2000 years since we have tried to separate them, define the narrow gate by whatever rules and rigidity we can come up with to keep all those who are “other” to us out. However, ultimately the narrow gate and golden rule are given together by Jesus because they just are meant by him to go together. So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. It is the law and the prophets, the summation of all that is taught in the Bible, and it is in itself the narrow gate through which Jesus would have us all enter.
It also fits into the overall Sermon in the Mount. This is coming at a point where Jesus his wrapping up his single most significant talk, and it is time to bring his point home. 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. Jesus says the gate and wide and easy that leads to destruction, so wide and easy that those who enter by it are many. Isn’t this always the way? We will always find the easy way out, won’t we? We know the words, we have heard what Jesus teaches. We can probably rattle off the principles. Love your enemies, forgive as we want to be forgiven, turn the other cheek, love your neighbor as yourself. We believe in Jesus. We know his teaching. But at the end of the day, what Jesus teaches us is hard. And we don’t like doing what is hard. We want it easy. Jesus tells us right here the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction. We hear him tell us that, but this we don’t believe. How can the easy way lead us to destruction? It’s the path everyone is taking.
And from where we stand, it’s the way to get the things we want. I want that job. I want that car. I want that 4K big screen. And I want all the other things that 4K big screen tells me to want when I turn that thing on. Because, after all, life really is about the fulfilling of our daily wants and desires, isn’t it. Isn’t our motto, our creed “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?” It’s all about fulfilling my wants, isn’t it? So, we know what Jesus tells us, but we choose instead that wide path of knowing what he taught, but still doing whatever it is we want to do.
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. It is so counter intuitive, so counter-cultural. We can just look around, even among those who do openly profess Christ, and see that it is indeed very few who find find the narrow gate. Because to find the narrow gate, we must stop talking about all Jesus taught us, and start living the path he showed us. Because just about everything Jesus told us about how we should live in this life, he showed us in his own life.
For us, this would mean we should probably just stop talking about the life of Jesus, and starting living the example of Jesus. Stop telling everyone what we believe, and start showing them what we believe.
We believe in the forgiveness of sins (especially our own sins!!). Stop talking and start forgiving. Even when they don’t deserve it.
We believe we should use our words to build up and not tear down. Well, we should use our words to build up and not tear down.
We believe in being generous. Be generous. With money and time.
We believe we should not look at others as objects (sexually and otherwise). Well, don’t look at people as objects. Which means, we don’t just look at people in terms of what we can get from them. Which can only be done by seeing them as children of God made in the image of God. Which can only be done by the power of God.
We believe in being open and honest. Be open and honest.
We believe in loving our enemies. Really…we do!!
We believe in praying for our enemies. So we should love and pray for our enemies, even those who would harm us. And we pray for the power for ourselves to do what we really can not do on our own.
We believe we should not judge or condemn others. We really believe they should not judge and condemn us.
Or, to summarize, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them. This is the narrow gate. It’s not easy, it is the narrow gate for a reason. This is some of what Jesus means when he tells us “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Luke 17:33 ESV. We seek out our own will, our creeds tell us this is right and proper. Jesus tells us when seek our own way, our own life, we will lose it. Because this is the wide gate that leads to destruction.
If we give up our own will, seeking not our own happiness but instead seeking obedience to Christ, then we have found what it means to enter by the narrow gate. Few of us will find it. We are products of our culture. We believe in Jesus, but we will choose to do whatever it is we want to do. We will look for the wide gate and the easy path, seven days a week and twice on Sunday.
We believe in Jesus, but obedience is just too hard.
“”So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “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.”
Matthew 7:12-14 ESV