Please read Luke 13:22-30.
A. INVITING THE MULTITUDES TO ENTER INTO GOD’S KINGDOM
- And He went through the cities and villages, teaching and progressing toward Jerusalem.
Advertising is very important to draw customers. Large enterprises spend huge sums on leaflets, billboards and displaying their wares on the internet. While the Lord Jesus visited earth, He did very much the same; the difference being that He the Manager of it all, had to walk from village to vilage, criss-crossing the country.
Wherever He went He described the wonders of this Kingdom and the quality of life there. There would, for instance, be no more tears. They will be wiped away, and there would be nothing to cry about. He also distributed samples of his wares free of charge and multitudes benefited by it. Even the poor received an equal share of things like healing of all sorts of diseases, restoration of eyesight and hearing, deliverance from demons, even food. This was, however, more than an offer of wares. It was the heralding in of the Kingdom of this gracious, loving, miracle-working King. Together with the samples of his goodness, came the invitation to become citizens of his glorious Kingdom.
The importance of entering into his Kingdom was not only in what you would receive, but also in what you would escape. All present earthly kingdoms would eventually go up in flames, together with all they contain. Those people that had not escaped into this Heavenly Kingdom, will be consigned to an everlasting lake of fire. These then were the options. The decision to escape into the New Kingdom, was to be made right now.
This could be done by becoming followers of his Son who was now there amongst them, representing his Father King. Amazingly, not many people showed interest in accepting this offer. They had many excuses. One had to bury his father, another had to go and see a piece of land he had bought, a third was to try out a new team of oxen. Jesus’ followers noted this and wondered how many people would eventually end up saved from eternal death. Hence the following question.
- “Lord, those who are saved are few, aren’t they? “
One day, as they were walking towards Jerusalem, one of Jesus’ followers asked Him this important question. It seems that the enquirer understood clearly what Jesus’ mission to earth was all about. He himself had probably taken this all important step and had received eternal life. Now he was looking at all the people surrounding them. He realised that they were lost from childhood, just like he had been, and desperately needed to be saved. Mindful of the evil nature of his countrymen, however, he came to wonder how many of them would end up in heaven.
B. THE KINGDOM IS TO BE ENTERED THROUGH THE GATE OR DOOR
Jesus did not answer by giving him the exact number of people that would make it. This would have been of no practical use anybody. He rather utilised the opportunity to reveal certain useful truths for the benefit of all interested enquirers. Again He used an illustration; saying that Heaven was like a house. Like any other home, it had an owner and a door. It had only this one door, as most houses at that time had, so that the owner could effectively control who would be allowed to enter. This Kingdom door or gate, however, was unlike any other.
- Peculiarities of the Kingdom’s door or gate.
It is very narrow. This door is not wide like that of a king’s palace, so designed as to allow the free flow of many people. On the contrary and what makes it peculiar, is that it iss extremely narrow. It rather seems as if the owner went to great lenghts to exclude most people, the majority of the population.
In Luk 18:25 it is recorded that Jesus once (by implication) said that the gate of heaven is narrower than the eye of a needle. Nowadays you have to wet the end of a thread, rub it between forefinger and thumb, then hold the needle up to the light, close one eye, squint with the other and aim carefully to get it though the narrow slit that is provided. If you are in a hurry, the thread will fold back and you will have to start all over again. (Don’t even consider pushing two threads through the same hole!)
It is as old as creation. It was set before the beginning of time. It is not like a wooden door on hinges manned by a doorkeeper who can open it wider for some, while narrowing it for others. Its opening has never changed, nor will it ever be done. It is set to the measurement of God’s perfect will.
It opens inwards only. Heavens door does not allow a person to step back outside. Once you are inside, you can only continue onwards towards the Throne of him whose home it is.
It requires careful consideration before entering. A person who, carrying many articles with him, would be disappointed on getting to the door. He would have to stop and reflect on how important it was for him to enter. Why would He want to enter? In what respects would life on the inside be different? Would that be the kind of life he really wanted? What kind of people did he expect to have their as friends?
Even more important, what would he have to leave behind? Which of his family and friends would he have to part with? In short, he would have to compare what he would lose to what he would gain; then decide. Only a small portion of humanity would conclude that it was to better to give up what they had, in order to gain what was promised.
So Jesus actually confirmed the fears of the questioner that most people would find the door of heaven too narrow. They would sigh deeply, pick up their bundles and walk away, never to be seen again. We read of one such a person, generally referred to as the rich yough ruler. He fell on his knees before Jesus, very enthusiastically enquiring what he was to do to receive eternal life. When he was told to sell his belongings, give the moneyto the poor and follow the Lord, he lost all interest and left right away (Matt 19:16-30).
- Conclusion: “Strive hard to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.”
This is Jesus’ warning to each of us and He knows what He is saying because He has seen hundreds of thousands turning back at the narrow gate, never to try to enter again.
C. YOU AND ME AT THE NARROW GATE OR DOOR.
What prevents man from entering through this gate into God’s kingdom? Let’s mention some of the more common pieces of luggage.
- The esteem and fellowship of family and friends.
The esteem and acceptance that a person enjoys in his community, family or circle of friends, is extremely precious to him. He fiercely clings to it. Even the burly boxer wants to be accepted by an inner circle of friends and admirers.
Because the vast majority of the people who surround us, are living outside of God’s House, they look down with contempt on anyone who humbles himself. They despise those tat confess and lay off sin and goes to Jesus on his knees. The onlookers outside the Gate will mock, reject and even persecute such a person. In Jesus’ time, anyone who became His follower and openly confessed it, was banned from the synagogues. This is what still happens today. Many churches allow unsaved persons as members. These mock, persecute and denigrate anyone who converts to Christ. This they do to hide their own guilt.
- My age old sins.
Then there is the baggage of long cherished sins. The love for sin makes a person to zip his bag of beloved sin tightly; holding it firmly to his breast. When the Holy Spirit lovingly leads him to a spot right in front of the Narrow Gate, his face hardens, he turns around and hastily stalks away.
What do you keep in your sinner’s bag: a bottle of alchohol? A sachet of drugs? Dishonesty in your business? Lying to your friends? Infidelity in your marriage? Daydreaming on sexual experiences? Pride in your achievements at school, university or in your profession which causes you to despise less gifted people? Anger, hatred, an unforgiving attitude? Gloating over other’s mishappenings. Are these things really so precious to you that you would sell your soul for them?
Maybe you are an addict and want to get free before you enter; you want to be perfect before coming in the presence of the Holy King. No, no, it works just the other way around: first go inside. There you will receive a purely white cloak of righteousness and be freed from this satannic power when the power of God fills you. And that goes for every other sin in your bag; every other binding on your soul.
- “I don’t need anyone’s help.”
Really? Is that what you say when standing before the Gate? Independence. You want to be your own god just like Eve. You don’t want to be dictated by God on what and what not to do. You want to use your reason and make your decisions independently of God. You want to be free to choose your own path. No, dear friend, man was not created to be his own god – he is either a servant of the one and only God or a servant of sin and the devil. True freedom means being set free from your evil desires so that you can do the will of God, then enter into his rest.
- “I choose my own door. “
Apart from this and many other baggage, many sinners do not enter because they reject the Door provided by the owner of the house. The Lord Jesus said:
“I am the Door, no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Some seek to enter through the door of good works. If you want to enter through that door, you must be entirely clean of sin, equal to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in Rom. 3:23:
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but they are justified without merit through the salvation that is in Christ Jesus. “
You are one of the “all”; not so?
E. “Oh my word, I missed my flight!”
Another reason why people don’t enter is because they put it off until it’s too late. They see the open door and know they must enter and be saved, but they want to enjoy the world around them just that little bit longer. So they keep putting off the decision. They literally stand in front of the Gate but look at their wristwatch and decide that they will probably have at least another day or so on earth. Then, at a particular moment, the owner of the house looks at his watch, decides that he has allowed enough time, gets up and closes the door.
Crowds will then run to the door, pounding on it with their fists, saying, “Please open for us. We know You. We ate with You in such and such a place and You taught on our streets. But He will answer:
“I do not know you and do not know where you come from. Depart from Me, you sinners. ” God’s decision is final.
- The fate of those who do not enter in time.
Those unsaved at death, or at the second coming of the Lord, will not return to the streets of their hometown to continue to enjoy sin. They will be cast into hell from where they will see the saved in the heavenly house of God from afar. They will cry and gnash their teeth withthe pain they will have to endure. To have to put these lines in writing, breaks my heart.
- An indisputable fact.
The scary thing about Jesus’ answer is that He, who knows everything, expressed Himself very clearly about this. This is also recorded in the other Gospels: Few will be saved. Are you one of those who entered in? Are you seated and buckled up in the plane leaving for heaven? Or … are you still lingering before the entrance?
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