It's a Difficult Road
In John 10, Jesus refers to himself as “The Door” or “The Gate.” In Matthew 7, Jesus says to enter through the narrow gate rather than the broad gate. And I just know there is a joke in there somewhere about Jesus being skinny, but I also know that Jesus here is talking about something very serious for followers and potential followers to consider.
Robert Frost, in perhaps his most famous poem, writes about two distinctive roads or paths. Likely unknowingly (Frost never did make his religious beliefs clear as far as. I can tell), Frost actually does something very helpful for me when I think about this passage. You can read Frost’s poem here.
Faced with the decision about which path to take, Frost chooses the latter option, thinking it is the one less traveled by, and that he can always return to see where the other path leads at a later time. However, Frost also notes, “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.”
And here is, I think, where we read Jesus and begin to understand what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7. Jesus says, “Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.”
Jesus invites us to consider choosing the road less traveled. Not because of the promise of adventure or because we will be rewarded in unique ways that other travelers before us have missed out on (although I certainly won’t rule those things out–God is, after all, God and can do whatever God pleases that is in line with God’s character).No, it is not for adventure or accolades/rewards; instead Jesus offers this path because it is the road that leads to life.
Moving back to John 10, Jesus further clarifies that he himself is the gate or the door that we should choose. It is through Jesus, with Jesus, by Jesus that we travel this path to life. It is through Jesus that we can have life to the fullest (John 10:10).
So, it is at this point that I begin to wonder why the road to life is the road less traveled, and as Jesus says, “few find it?”
This morning, I offer one more passage to add to these two already offered. In Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus shares the why to the question listed above: “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them.”
Remember, in the Kingdom of God, up is down, and down is up–or maybe more accurately, what we think is up is really not up at all, and what we think is down is really not down either. We have a perception problem. We perceive of the world how we want to see it rather than how God sees it.
Here, Jesus offers an explanation as to why so few choose the narrow gate. We become preoccupied with saving our own lives that we leave no room for God to do a saving work through us and in us. When we offer our lives freely to God and to our neighbors, not only do we follow Jesus down the narrow road (the one that truly leads to life–abundant life), but we also have learned that by giving our lives away, they cannot be taken from us. We have already given them as a gift, as an offering. We free ourselves from the eternal work of trying to save ourselves, and we give God space to save us, redeem us, and give us abundant life in him.
So, this week, choose the narrow gate. The road is difficult. It requires that we be willing to let go of control, to stop trying to save ourselves, and to let God be God–not an easy task. But it is the road that frees us from the impossible task of saving ourselves, of creating life for ourselves. Instead, we find our life in God alone.