13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV)
“Then Evangelist, pointing with his finger over a very wide field, said, “Do you see yonder narrow-gate?” The man answered, “No.” Evangelist replied, “Do you see yonder shining light?” He said, “I think I do.” Then Evangelist said, “Keep that light in your eye, and go directly to it— and then you shall see the gate; at which—when you knock—you shall be told what you must do.” – John Bunyan
The Bible is literature; much like The Pilgrim’s Progress. The Scriptures contain many genres of writing. These include historical narrative, poetry, wisdom, biography, parables, prophecy and doctrinal.
In these genres, the Bible also contains various figures of speech including similes, metaphors, idioms, ironies, antithesis, alliterations, personifications, and paradoxes. Today’s text, much like Bunyan’s work, is an allegory that compares entry into salvation as entering by a gate. In His Sermon on the Mount’s (Matt. 5-7), concluding section (Matt. 7:13-29) Jesus provides allegorical comparisons to salvation and condemnation.
“This closing section of the Sermon on the Mount is a gospel application. Here are two gates, two ways, two destinations, and two groups of people (vv. 13–14); two kinds of trees and two kinds of fruit (vv. 17–20); two groups at the judgment (vv. 21–23); and two kinds of builders, building on two kinds of foundations (vv. 24–28). Christ is drawing the line as clearly as possible between the way that leads to destruction and the way that leads to life,” explains Dr. John MacArthur.
Paralleling the opening scenes of The Pilgrim’s Progress, Jesus spoke of a narrow gate and a wide gate. Jesus commanded His hearers to enter (εἰσέρχομαι; eiserchomai) or to experience entrance into justification from God through the narrow gate. Narrow (στενός; stenos) in the context means entrance solely through one, restricted way.
Jesus elaborated this image by teaching that the gate of eternal destruction or waste was wide and the pathway was easy. This resulted in many people entering by this gate and living life on this path.
Jesus then contrasted the wide and easy gate with the narrow gate and the hard way of life. However, this gate, and the pathway that follows, leads to life; though there be few who find it.
Jesus did not leave us wondering what, or who, the gate is. John 10:1–7 (ESV) says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” See also John 14:1-6.
Many people have told me that as there are many roads and streets into a city, there are many ways into heaven. You just have to choose the one that is right for you. In other words, the way you prefer.
The Word of God teaches the opposite. It instructs people that there is only one way into heaven and that is by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone (Acts 4:12).
“Both the narrow gate and the wide gate are assumed to provide the entrance to God’s kingdom. Two ways are offered to people. The narrow gate is by faith, only through Christ, constricted and precise. It represents true salvation in God’s way that leads to life eternal. The wide gate includes all religions of works and self-righteousness, with no single way (cf. Acts 4:12), but it leads to hell, not heaven,” concludes Dr. MacArthur.
So I saw in my dream that the man began to run. Now, he had not run far from his own door—before his wife and children, seeing him depart, began to shout after him to return. But the man put his fingers in his ears, and ran on, crying, “Life! Life! Eternal life!” So he did not look behind him—but fled towards the middle of the plain.” – John Bunyan
When did God call you unto salvation and to enter into a covenant relationship with Him through the narrow gate of His Son, Jesus Christ? Or is God calling you to enter through that gate at this moment and receive forgiveness of sin? Respond by God given faith to His call.
Soli deo Gloria!