“Then Jesus traveled throughout towns and villages, teaching and making his way toward Jerusalem. Someone asked him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved?’
“So he said to them, ‘Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and start to knock on the door and beg him, “Lord, let us in!” But he will answer you, “I don’t know where you come from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.” But he will reply, “I don’t know where you come from! Go away from me, all you evildoers!”
“There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God. But indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.’” (Luke 13:22-30 NET)
The question asked by this unnamed person is one which seems to be as relevant today as it was then: “Lord, will only a few be saved?” Although Jesus’ answer was to explain that it will only be a few that are saved, many today want to believe that God will, ultimately, save virtually everyone. It would seem that the problem people have is understanding how a loving God could allow anyone to be lost.
Notice how Jesus answered this question: we need to do everything we possibly can to enter through the narrow door – many will try but won’t be able to enter. The idea of a narrow door is that it is difficult to get through. When given a choice, most people prefer the easy way of doing something. Yet if we are going to follow Jesus, he taught over and over that it will not be easy but it will be difficult.
I remember visiting Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado when I was a young teenager. Our family chose to go on the tour which took you down to the former village of the Ancestral Puebloans who built their village under the mesa. We were warned that there would be ladders to climb as well as narrow entrances.
At one point the doorway was the size of the ranger’s wide-brimmed hat. Someone with extra weight would not be able to get through. It was a difficult entrance, but it undoubtedly kept any enemies trying to take over their village. To enter the village was not easy, but it was worth it for us as tourists to see how this ancient people lived around 750 years ago.
Spiritually, the problem is that at some point the door will be shut – a time when we can no longer obey what Jesus has said. If we are left on the other side, we might beg to be let in, but the reply will be that we are not known. Many who have lived “religious” lives will be shocked to discover that they never entered the door. They may know some things about Jesus, but they never went through the door to get to know him and have a relationship with him. Jesus will once again reply that they are not known to him, go away! What a devastating message to hear!
The problem is, of course, sin. The solution is obedience. Once we have our sins washed away we then have a seat at Jesus’ banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as all those who belong to God. Isn’t it worth exerting “every effort to enter through the narrow door”?
Readings for next week:
8 August – Luke 18
9 August – Luke 19:1-27
10 August – Luke 19:28-48
11 August – Luke 20:1-18
12 August – Luke 20:19-47