Read Luke 13 here or click on the speaker icon below to listen to it.
"Lord, will those who are saved be few?" a question from the religious crowds. Always concerning themselves with the salvation of others, but rarely looking within.
Jesus flips it back on them. You wonder if there will be few? What about you?
He doesn't answer the question but instead gives some advice on how to be saved: "Strive to enter through the narrow door."
Strive to enter. Strive implies a great deal of agonizing effort. But it is a striving effort toward the narrow door. A door where good works won't fit; our accomplishments won't fit; our good looks on the outside won't fit; our ancestry won't fit; our possessions won't fit.
Sin and society put many obstacles and detour signs in front of the narrow gate.
"For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able," Jesus continues.
If we are following the crowd, we might be running with the "many." They may be blinding us to the reality of the narrow door. It takes a striving effort to go against the many. Half-hearted isn't striving.
"Lord, open to us," they cry, knocking from the outside.
"I do not know where you come from," Jesus answers.
"We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets," they plead.
"I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!" Jesus responds.
Oh, they knew who Jesus was. They even ate with Him, listened to Him teach, and likely saw Him heal many. But they didn't KNOW Jesus. They were part of the "many." The onlookers. The half-in. The ones who thought they could wait to repent; wait to follow wholeheartedly until it was a bit more convenient.
And while the door is open wide as God eagerly waits for everyone to strive for the narrow door, a time will come when the door is shut. Forever. Many will seek to enter and will not be able.
We strive and strive for all the wrong things. The narrow gate – Jesus alone – is what our striving should be about.
Pastor Joby Martin puts it this way: Jesus doesn't want to just be first on our list; He wants to be the paper we write the list on. He wants to be our foundation on which everything else is written. Then we do these good works in His power and out of gratitude for Him, not as the basis for our misguided striving. He doesn't want us to prioritize going to church on Sunday (check) and then move to the next thing on the list without another thought about Him. He doesn't want us to tithe (check) and then not consider His kingdom in how we spend the other 90%. He doesn't want us to wake up early for quiet time (check) and then go about our day without Him. He wants to be a part of it all; the thread of life woven through every word, action, thought, decision.
At judgment day, everyone will know the truth. But it will too late once the door is locked. J.C. Ryle says, "Hell is truth known too late."
Strive for the narrow door. Strive for the FREE (to you) gift of entrance through the blood of Jesus; for saying, "Yes, Jesus. You are my Savior. You are the Lord of my life. You are the ONLY way, truth, and life. I don't want to just know about You. I want to know You. I surrender."
A day will come when the choice will no longer be available. Drop everything that is keeping you from squeezing through the narrow gate, and with a light load of only the work of Jesus, enter.
Are you waiting for true repentance and whole-hearted surrender to be a tad more convenient? Are you striving to enter through the narrow door?