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Sermon on the Mount
“There Are Only Two”
We all prefer to be given choices and the more choices we have the better we like it. But there are limits, which is evident when looking up and down the grocery aisle.
Everything involves choices. Just going out to dinner is a big thing because of the choices.
There are multiple different types of food from every continent, country, and ethnicity. There are over 12 different types of Chinese cuisine, and when it comes to BBQ, there’s way too many to mention.
Sometimes I feel like one of the vultures in Jungle Book saying, with a slight variation, “Where you want to go? I don’t know, where do you want to go?”
But in our passage Jesus shatters any false allusions a person might have about where to spend eternity. Our society likes to think that there are many ways to get to heaven, but Jesus said there is only one true path. In other words there’s not many ways, as people like to say. In fact, when it comes to our eternity Jesus said there are only two choices.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV)
What we see is that there are four sets if choices. Four sets of two
These two entry points are the two gates. There’s a wide gate and a narrow gate.
The Wide Gate is the easy gate. There’s no difficulty getting through this way, and that’s because there are no limits to what we can get through. We can take all the baggage we can carry. Nothing needs to be left behind, including our sins, self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and even our pride.
The Narrow Gate, however, is not so easy. It’s difficult, not only to get through but to find.
When in Israel these narrow gates were quite difficult to find and to get through. The main gates were wide where all the traffic flowed, but the narrow gate was off to the side. You had to look hard to find them, and often times I didn’t even know they existed until our guide opened it up. And to get through some of them we had to step over a threshold a couple of inches high, while ducking our heads at the same time.
One time as I was stepping through one of these narrow gates when something caught my attention and I forgot to duck. I about knocked myself out.
It’s this narrow gate that Jesus tells us to go through. This gate isn’t easily found, so we need a guide, the Holy Spirit, to reveal the way.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.” (John 16:7 NKJV)
And then again a little later Jesus said,
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” (John 16:13 NKJV)
The Holy Spirit is our guide, and He’ll open up this narrow gate, who is none other than Jesus Christ, because the doorway to eternal life is one person wide, Jesus.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9 NKJV)
Jesus is the door to everlasting life in heaven. But while the perception is that it’s hard to get through, the reality is that it isn’t hard at all. It starts with us unpacking all the baggage we’ve collected in this life. Stuff like selfish ambition, pride, and sin.
The writer of Hebrews said,
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1 NKJV)
After I graduated from High School, a bunch of us went down to Baja California. While there I found a huge lobster in one of the tide pools. I reached down and grabbed him and took him to the other guys.
They told me he was an old because of all the crustaceans that were attached to his back. These weighed him down so much that he could barely move. That’s why he was in the tide pool, because he could eat the fish that got trapped inside, because he wasn’t fast enough for the open ocean.
This goes for our lives as well. The idea the writer of Hebrews is trying to get across is that we have to violently remove whatever is holding us down and back.
A runner doesn’t run in his or her street clothes. They wear sleek body suits designed to reduce wind resistance. They remove all other clothing to be as efficient as possible.
That’s why water skiers wear bathing suits and not snow suits. If you wore a snowsuit while water skiing and you fell, it would drag you to the bottom. To save yourself you’d be tearing it away as quick as you could.
If we want to enter through the narrow gate, we need to get rid of all the stuff that’s weighing us down so that we can run the race, make the journey, and get to the finish line.
Christianity isn’t Jesus plus all the rest of the stuff; rather it’s Jesus and Him alone.
So, how do we get rid of all the stuff? Through confession and asking forgiveness!
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV)
This is how we enter into and through the narrow gate.
The wide gate leads to the broad way. This word, “broad,” means that the way or path is spacious and roomy. It’s a path that can accommodate a lot of stuff as well as a bunch of viewpoints.
It’s a path paved with tolerance and permissiveness. And there are no curbs or boundaries so that everyone’s truth is permitted. It’s a path that says, “If it feels right do it.”
It takes no effort to walk on this path. It’s easy and there’s nothing that pushes us off. The broad path in the end, however, leads to destruction. With this in mind we might want to take to heart, and keep in mind, the following proverb.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV)
The other way is hard and narrow. The word, “narrow,” means it’s restrictive or confined. In other words, there isn’t much room on this path.
It’s a path that doesn’t allow for lots of stuff or a multitude of opinions as to what’s right or wrong. It doesn’t support morals and beliefs that differ from God’s word. Its boundaries are clearly marked out by God’s word.
There is also no room for other truths or other ways, because Jesus is the only truth and the only way. Just as we saw that Jesus is the gate or door we have to enter by, Jesus is also the only path by which we can take.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
So it’s the narrow path that leads to the Father and an eternity in heaven. But again the path like the gate isn’t easy.
The Apostle Paul said,
“We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b NKJV)
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)
This is the road Jesus took, the road that led to the cross, and it’s a road He is asking us to take as well.
“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
And while it isn’t easy, Jesus tells us to walk it, and when we do He’ll meet us and help us along the way.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)
“Many” is the word used to describe those who enter by the wide gate and journey upon the broad path. And the reason is obvious. They can take all their junk with them.
It’s a path where no thought or conscious is needed. It’s a path where people can make up their own rules and justify their way of life or lifestyles. They believe they can live like hell and still go to heaven. But this sort of thinking only leads to death and destruction.
“Few” is the word that’s used to describe those on the narrow path.
However, when it’s presented that Jesus is the only way, truth, and life, and the only doorway that someone must enter in order to walk upon this path that leads to heaven, people become indignant. But truth is still truth no matter how many people choose to believe it. Truth is not predicated on how many believe it, and it doesn’t need to be updated to fit society’s sensibilities.
God’s word, the Bible, was true in the beginning, it’s true today, and it will be true in tomorrow. No one has ever found it to be false, no matter how hard they’ve tried. And the majority opinion doesn’t indicate truth. Just because more people follow another path doesn’t make that path the right path.
The Lord said,
“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2 NKJV)
There’s one last thing concerning truth. The truth is not as restrictive as many people think. In fact, the truth is liberating
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV)
Those who enter the wide gate and take the broad path will find destruction. While those who enter the narrow gate and take the narrow path will find life.
The choice is literally follow the world and go to hell, or follow Jesus and go to heaven. There’s no third alternative, middle ground, or neutrality.
And religion isn’t the way. The only way is through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the narrow gate, the narrow path, and eternal life. Jesus is the only way and there is no other.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study