Today, I invite you to open your bibles to Matthew 7. I’ll begin this section by asking you a question: “What is your destination?”
There is a great deal of people who would like to find an answer to this question. Last week we went to a medieval fair near here. At this place we saw a tent with a fortune teller that was among other booths. There were cards spread out on her table and she was predicting the future to a young lady.
I assume that we are all interested in our destination. We would like to know if good things will happen to us, or if misfortune will come upon us. It it’s same with our eternal destination. Most humans would like to know that if after death, they cease existing or if there is eternal life.
If you are here today, it’s probably because you believe in a life after death. However, maybe you aren’t certain if you will go to Heaven or Hell. Hence my question: “What is your final destination?”
One thing is certain, if we would like to go to the right place, it’s absolutely necessary to have our destination in mind from the get go. Let’s compare it to planning a vacation. If I want to go somewhere nice and to not find myself in the middle of nowhere, I must start by figuring out the place I want to go to. Then, I must choose the appropriate way to get myself there.
Jesus knew this principle. In Matthew 7:13-14, he said, “…”
There are two things that are clear in this passage. First, the number of choices available to us. Second, the differences between the possible choices.
There are two doors by which we can go through and two ways by which we can travel. There is a door and a way that leads to life, and there is a door and a way that leads to death.
There are only two possible choices. Pay special attention to what I say here. Jesus did not say that there are three ways or three doors. There are only two, so we have only these two to choose from for our destination: death or eternal life.
I know that what I’m saying here may shock some people. We live in a world that loves diversity and having many choices. We go into a store and have ten options whether in brands or colors for the toilet paper we’d like to use. We inform ourselves by studying and researching to eventually present ourselves with ten options for a career.
Whenever we classify men we put them into four or five categories which are infants, children, adolescents, young adults, middle aged adults, and the retired. Yet, God is different and sees man in two categories.
He divides the population by plotting a single vertical line. There are those on his right and those to his left. There are the sheep, and the goats, those who are lost and those who are saved…In his eyes, there are only two camps, two streets, two doors, two types of trees, two types of builders, and two types of travelers. Either we’re on the good path, or we’re on the bad.
Secondly, notice the differences in this passage between the two doors, likewise the two paths.
First let’s compare the two doors.
In fact, the vast majority go through it.
Next, it means that we can go through it rather easily. This is one of the reasons why I like the big doors in a house is because it’s easy to put whatever I want through it. In comparison the small openings limit what can be brought in.
What Jesus says here, is that the door that leads to death allows us to travel through it with all that we want to bring. We can go through without leaving behind any well-loved people, possessions, or our backpack of old habits etc…
Today it’s important to realize that at first sight the large doors are always more attractive than the small and narrow doors. Why? Because they require no effort whatsoever.
In Luke 13:24, the same words are spoken by Jesus, but they are slightly different. I would like that we take a look at them for a better understanding of what the Lord is trying to get across here. Let’s read, “…”
In the French translation, Louis Second it says strive to enter. In the Semeur translation as well it says, “make every effort.” The idea of the Greek word here is that one must fight to make a way through the narrow door.
It’s like when we were young and attempted to squeeze through barred windows or gates. We put our heads through first, then we put one arm through, then a shoulder, then a hip…
This door that leads to life is hard to get through. It requires that we pass through it alone…and sometimes we must leave behind other people that won’t follow, sometimes we must accept to separate with our possessions.
This door requires that we humble ourselves, renounce our old ways, and fight to attain life.
In Acts 14 verses 21-22 we read that the first Christians had this understood very well. Let’s look together, “…”
Choosing the kingdom of God is never easy. The way isn’t easy, but even before we even mention the way, we know the entrance of the way isn’t easy either.
A lot of people realize this whenever they want to convert to Christ they may lose all, maybe even their family. It’s necessary then, before committing to Christianity to be ready to break attachments that we have with some parents, friends or boyfriend/girlfriend relationships if need be. In the same way to enter on the right path, doubt and unbelief need to be conquered as well as independent desires.
In contrast, there is no choice to make to go to hell. I see this fact in the words that Jesus uses in Matthew 7: 13. He didn’t say, “Enter by the wide gate,” but, “Enter by the narrow gate.” Why?
All of us at the beginning are on the path toward the wide gate. However, there are road signs on that path that say, “Would you like to have life? Then proceed to the narrow way on your right!” Another one says, “What should I do to be saved? Believe, be submerged and pass through the gate where there is blood.”
Why blood? Because the narrow door represents someone in the Bible.
Look in John 10: 7-9 “…”. The door, is not Moses or Buddha, it’s Jesus who poured out his blood for washing away our sins. It’s because of him that we have access to Heaven.
Now let’s return back to our road sign illustration. On the broad path there are other signs that say, “What should I do to be lost?” The sign after this one is an empty frame.
Why? Because there’s no requirement or anything that needs to be done in order to be lost. It’s enough to continue existing, in the same way as ever. It’s enough to simply go forward in life without Christ. Romans 3: 23 says, “…”.
Let us not believe that we can avoid hell just by choosing to not choose at all. “I’m not sure who Jesus really is, so I won’t tell him no or yes!”
In Matthew 12:30, Christ says: “…”. As Pilate discovered it, one really cannot say I’ll let someone else decide and wash my hands of it. History proves that the indecision of Pilate was his worst decision. No one can stay neutral!
There isn’t a third door that gives immunity. Today If I am either in front of the door of life or going near the door of death, there is a choice to make. Jesus says that the door is narrow, and very little of us will choose to go through.
Now let’s compare the two paths.
The implication here is that the vast majority of people are on this path.
Best pay attention however to the fact that the crowd often is wrong. Don’t forget that it’s the crowd who asked for the crucifixion of Jesus. It’s the crowd that persecuted the first Christians, established slavery, started wars, put to death several great thinkers, and as well in our days put in place the rules of morality.
The danger here is when we follow the crowds, we’ll find ourselves on a “secure/comfortable path” saying, “After all, I’m am not any worse than anyone else!” or “After all, I’m doing same thing everyone else is!”. In France many conclude by rejecting faith that doesn’t resemble a well known or followed religion. If it’s not Catholicism, then it should be doubted…
On the more spacious way, there are so many people who go through and at the end find themselves in ruts. Some fall in the rut of false religion that wrongly pretends; “You are surely on the good path!” Then others are in ruts of using substances that supposedly make life sweeter. Also some find the rut of violence, with lies that claim to be the way to obtain excitement that is otherwise too difficult to find elsewhere. On the wide path sex promises to diminish our solitude and becomes a rut. Apathy is also included in this list. When we follow these things we think we’ve found the solution to eternal happiness.
Proverbs 12: 15a says, “…”. Proverbs 14:12 adds, “…”.
The way most followed is the way without limitations or restraints, the way where everyone does what he pleases. These people follow along this way because they are confident in their judgment and their own goodness. In reality this crowd is blind. Paul said this in 2 Corinthians 4: 3-4: “…”
However, the way to Christ follows a different path that begins in a different place as told to us by Jesus.
First and foremost because it requires discipline. (See 1 Peter 1: 13-17) Discipline is the key word of this passage. This way is not a way of effortless faith. The salvation is free, but the faith requires discipline.
Don’t forget that without discipline, great things in life won’t be produced. Think about the strings of a guitar. If they aren’t tight and rigid then we could strum as much as we want but it won’t sound melodious. It’s the same in our lives. To be in Christ, we must accept to live no longer according to the flesh. We must accept that Christ drives us near new horizons.
On his way, I don’t have freedom to do whatever I want. It’s for that reason that the path is first narrow. Few people take this path because they want the freedom to follow their desires. Few take it because they want a faith that won’t cost them anything.
However, those who submit themselves to Him and travel on His way will find innumerable blessings according to Isaiah 35: 8-13 “…”
The other reason it’s narrow is because God is not as broad of spirit as certain people believe him to be. Those who think this say, “Don’t be so intolerant, we will end up in the same place, we’re just taking different ways to get there!”
Have you ever heard such remarks? If you have, let me tell you what God says. Let’s look in Jeremiah 21: 8, there is only two ways before us. Then in John 14: 6 (also in Acts 4: 11-12) we read, “…”
A missionary left one day to evangelize a small tribe in the central African jungle. On his way back, he diverged from the path he was following. After several hours, he was lost to wander in the jungle, and he began to be scared. By chance he came upon a small hut in a clearing. So, he went to find a native who could help him get back to his house.
The native he found accepted and asked the missionary to follow him. He led him into a place very dense with vegetation, so much so that he had to cut through the way with a machete. Over an hour later the native was still clearing a passage way through the roots and leaves. The missionary becoming worried once again asked, “Are you sure this is the way? I don’t see a path.” The African began laughing and answered, “Bwana, in this place, there isn’t a path. I am the way!”
Jesus is the way, He is the only way. Likewise, this way requires that we follow his steps to find the way to Heaven.
In conclusion that means what? Hell is real. A lot of us would like to think otherwise. In our days, many churches deny the reality of hell. According to them, a god who loves wouldn’t allow such a punishment. As for the world, hell is becoming a subject of humor. In Chicago, for example, there is this dance club that is called, “The doors of hell”. On the inside, everyone is enjoying themselves.
However according to Jesus, hell is a very real place, one of eternal suffering and grinding of teeth.
And the multitude goes toward it. But Jesus stands on the broad path and cries to those who would hear him, “Stop! Stop! I want to give you life!” He presents us with an emergency door, an exit door. But that door is narrow.
Today will we choose it? Will we accept to renounce all the things that are necessary in order to follow Him? Will we accept to walk in the opposite direction of the crowd? Jesus is the way and he offers us life. It’s up to us to choose and take the door that is the way to our salvation.
Be like Peter in John 6: 66-68 who when Jesus asks him if he wouldn’t like to follow the crowd said, “No, to whom shall we go?” Jesus is the only way to salvation.