Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord will only a few be saved”. He said to them, “Strive to enter the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter but won’t be able” (Luke 13:22-24).
We live in a post-modern age that prizes broad-thinking, pluralism, and inclusiveness. Jesus’ metaphor of the “narrow door” isn’t politically correct. It is also greatly misunderstood.
Jesus made it clear that Incidents of birth or background exclude no one from the kingdom of God. “People will come from the east and west, from north and south” (Luke 13:29). The song of the redeemed will be sung by “saints from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9). Jesus prayed to the Father for “all people” to receive eternal life, “And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
Heaven has no Social Registry, country club dues, party affiliations, IQ tests or financial pre-qualification. The Parable of the Vineyard devastates the idea that a long and distinguished curriculum vitae is necessary to make the cut (Matt 20:1-17).
Sooner or later though, every one is going to face the door called “Jesus.” The Savior determines the means of salvation. That’s good Scripture and good logic. Jesus called it out: “I am the door. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture” (John 10:9).
It is nothing but pride that keeps us looking for back doors and alternative entrances. Wouldn’t we smugly enjoy arriving beside the Crystal Sea via our own cleverness and effort? Peter tried a number of different routes himself — strength, charisma, following at a distance, dietary practice, walking on water, proposing sacred construction projects,and blustering testimonies when all else failed.
Finally, Peter had to confess that walking in through Jesus, the front door, was the only way to enter eternity. He told the Jewish Sanhedrin, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Jesus clearly refers to himself as the narrow door both as an open invitation and a focused goal. He also is not ambiguous about who will miss the turn-in or fuzzy about the reasons why. A vague, passing social acquaintance with Jesus won’t bring you home. “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in the streets.’But he will say, ‘I don’t know where you come from; go away from me all you evildoers!’” (Luke 13:26-27).
Of course anyone can refuse Jesus’ hospitality to pursue their own interests (Luke 14:24). Those seeking to drop his name to promote their fame will find their entrance barred (Matt 7:22-23). Similarly, those who claim to be good enough to make it through the door on their own will not be welcome (Matt 22:11-14). Neither will those who withhold mercy from the neediest members of God’s family (Matt 25:31-46).
The door is too narrow for those who insist on bringing their baggage with them (Luke 18:18-25). There is nothing to be gained by taking out a tape measure to see how close the tolerances need to be to squeeze you through. It is a spacious passage for those who have the humility to let their baggage go and acknowledge Jesus as “the way, and the truth, and the life” because he says, “No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also” (John 14:6-7).
It is popular to associate God’s grace with gamboling lambs, shiny rainbows, and the warm, fuzzy flush of first love that overlooks flaws and blemishes. Grace is the toughest, most durable, most exacting thing that you and I will ever know. It is the pure, undiluted power of God in every circumstance and every need. It overlooks nothing, but covers everything in shining righteousness for those willing to accept it. Jesus Christ is the embodiment of that grace that reconciles us to God and to each other (2 Cor 5:18-19).
The term “an inconvenient truth” entered the lexicon recently. It describes a fact that requires a difficult change, but that can’t be denied. Jesus Christ is the ultimate inconvenient truth. Whether it’s dealing with the past or opening up the future, it is Jesus or nothing. If you choose eternal life as your destiny you need to shed your load, reduce your proud profile and accept Jesus’ help because you are going to have to enter through that narrow cross-shaped door to enter the kingdom of God (Col 3:1-3). This is the Gospel, and I would be lying to you if I told you it was anything else.
“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who find refuge in him” (Ps 34:8).
Under the mercy of Christ,
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The Lord is the strength of his people;