Hearing Jesus flesh out what it means to have a righteousness above that of the Scribes and Pharisees must have been difficult for those listening that day on the mountainside. Even as they heard him say their heavenly Father would open wide the door to their requests and give such wonderful gifts, how they too could do that in everything to others seemed outside their grasp of understanding.
Maybe that’s why Jesus said this:
Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.Matthew 7:13-14 CSB
The way of Jesus is not easy to follow.
How much easier the way of the world—so wide and smooth. At least, that’s how it appears in the beginning. The way of the legalistic religious leaders was the same in Jesus’s eyes. How can this be?
Because both give clear-cut choices. The world says, forget God, forget rules, live for yourself and be happy. This is the wide way of abandonment to self, but it ultimately leads to self-destruction.
What drug addict can imagine the change that will come over even his complexion, his hair, or his teeth, when he takes that first pill or snort? It’s all about the feeling, the high, the freedom—until it’s not, and addiction leads to loss of family, theft, illness, homelessness, and despair.
The way of the rules-based religions is the same—there’s no need to think for yourself, just follow these rules, and you’ll be in. Paradise won, until it’s ultimately lost. You lose yourself to the rules, the leader, the religious community that says you can only leave over your dead body.
Many, more than we can count, go down these roads, few come out in one piece.
Yes, Jesus is saying his way is narrow, it is hard, and few will accept the reality of that commitment, but to those who do—oh, what life lies beyond.
How committed are you today to doing your acts of righteousness in secret?
To storing treasures in heaven instead of on earth?
To trusting God instead of giving in to worry?
To leaving judgment to God alone?
To doing to others in everything what you would have them do to you?
This is the way of the narrow gate—the way of Jesus.
Choose it and you will know His
Grace and Peace