Luke 13.22 thru 30 No Narrow Perspective
“No Narrow Perspective!”
- Jesus tells us it is a NARROW door.
“Narrow Door”…“Many will not be able to enter…” These words of Jesus in our Gospel lesson are not very “politically correct” in our age of religious pluralism. If Jesus came to America preaching this message today, He would be labeled a radical and would probably be arrested. In fact, that’s exactly why the Jews arrested Him and executed Him 2,000 years ago. To say there is only one way to heaven is an unpopular stance today. Most people think there are many ways to get to heaven. I heard it said that getting to heaven was like flying from JFK to LAX. One could fly American Airlines, and another could fly Delta and somebody else could fly Northwest or Southwest airlines, but everyone would get to the same destination. Doesn’t that sound logical? But when you get on an airliner, you could never be 100% certain it would arrive at the intended destination; it could be diverted by weather, hijacked, have mechanical problems, or even crash. Well I am booked to fly on Jesus Airlines and it’s the only one in the universe with a 100% on time arrival record!
This pluralism is all over. You can visit the Baha’i Temple near Chicago. It’s a beautiful building with nine doors, each representing the major belief systems of the world. The idea is that no matter what you believe you can still approach God, it doesn’t matter which door you enter. Most Americans believe it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are “sincere.” Well, the Al Qaeda terrorists are sincere in their beliefs, and they are wrong. You see, one can be sincere–and be sincerely wrong.
For Jesus (or any of us) to insist there is just one way to heaven seems too narrow-minded in this age of enlightenment. But look at His words again in verse 24. He didn’t speak of different doors, or different airliners. He didn’t say “enter through ONE of the narrow doors.” He spoke of THE narrow door. Other scriptures confirm there is only one way to heaven. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” In Acts we read, “For salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
Now, let me misquote this verse the way most folks believe today. Jesus must have meant it, “I am one of the ways, part of the truth, and one kind of life. No one comes to the Father unless they are religious and good and kind and sincere.” If everyone who believed they were going to heaven went to heaven, then we would have to say that almost all people are going to be saved. Is this true? That was the question that Jesus was asked - “Are only a few going to be saved?”
Jesus answered the question by giving a very vivid description of what will happen on Judgment Day. “Many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’” Isn’t this a vivid picture? People standing outside of the kingdom door - banging and crying, “Lord, let us in!” But when the trumpet blows and Judgment Day comes, there will be no second chances. The separation will take place, the righteous from the damned. How many will end up in hell? Jesus said, “MANY” will try to enter and not be able to.
- Jesus tells us to MAKE EVERY EFFORT to enter.
Jesus said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” That word for “effort” is the same one in the Greek that Paul used when he said, “I have fought the fight, I have finished the race.” In a sense, winning the prize is like a race. Even though we have the prize, and even though we already have the holiness of Christ, it doesn’t mean that the devil is going to give up. The devil does anything he can to take our grip off of Christ - and get us to cling to someone or something else. He’ll give us riches to let go of him. He’ll give us sorrow to give up on Him. Anything it takes, the devil will use. Therefore, it takes EFFORT to trust Christ and continue to cling to Him. It takes work to keep listening to the Gospel worked out in your life. The struggle that takes place is the journey of faith in ones life. When the Word of God is spoken and calls us to repent and trust in Christ. It is the daily putting to death the Old Adam and being raised again to new life by faith.
- He must KNOW us.
Jesus was living among many Jews who assumed they were going to heaven. They didn’t only assume this because they were Jews however. Verse 26 explains another reason why they thought they were going - “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ Do you see why the people thought that Jesus should let them into heaven? They ate with him. They drank with him. They knew him.
Did I ever tell you that I know President George Bush? Yeah we go way back. I’ve sat down with him and had lunch with him back in California and I was with him when he spoke at Queeny Park after the debates here in St. Louis. Well you are probably starting to think this through and have your doubts about how well I might “KNOW” the President of the United States. I did in fact have lunch with him…me and 2000 other people in a big auditorium. And I was in fact with him in the crowd when he spoke at Queeny Park…But does President Bush really KNOW me?...
Notice Jesus didn’t actually TEACH these Jews, but he taught IN THEIR STREETS. Do you see the basic myth that many people think about their relationship with God? “I’m a good guy. I’ve been to church before. I know who Jesus is. I’ve eaten at churches before. I gave money. I’m not opposed to Christ.” We often think, “I’m not a bad guy. I know who Christ is.” We assume that a basic belief in “God” is good enough to get to heaven.
Verse 27 continues, “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ Jesus still regarded them as literally “workers of evil,” even though they didn’t persecute him or do anything specifically evil against him. All they did was to eat and drink with him. Why did Jesus say this to them? Because he understood the very nature of sin and the nature of God. You see, sin isn’t just an accident, like a little blemish that occurs on your skin that can be easily washed off or removed with a little plastic surgery. God’s Word says, “Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” God doesn’t see us as “good people who just need a little guidance.” Without Jesus He sees utterly evil and corrupted human beings who have no potential but for evil. That’s what God’s Word says. It doesn’t matter what you think or how you feel about yourself or the world. That’s the plain written truth. That’s why Jesus called them workers of EVIL, even though they ate and drank with him and seemed to be “nice guys.” No matter how good they thought they were, they weren’t going to heaven.
- But JESUS is the doorkeeper! Does this mean that no one goes to heaven? No. Jesus still made mention of people from all over the world who would go. But how could rotten stinking sinners like us end up in heaven? With God, nothing is impossible. Let’s not forget where Jesus is going. Luke tells us at the beginning of this passage that this all happened as Jesus, “made His way to Jerusalem.” He is on His way to Jerusalem to suffer and die and be raised again for our salvation! If he could take dirt and turn it into a man, he could still take a corrupted man and turn it into something worth while. So Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again!” He had to be completely recreated. But how, Nicodemus didn’t understand. He couldn’t crawl back into his mother’s womb.
Thankfully, Jesus explains it to us. 1 John 1:7 says that, “the blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin.” When Jesus went to the cross and died for the sins of the world, it was as if he provided a huge eraser to wipe our sin away! Our debt was paid. Paul couldn’t have said it any clearer than in Ephesians 5 when he says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
- Finally, everything depends on HIS EFFORT and not OUR STRIVING!
Thank God that our salvation depends upon His knowing us and not upon our feeble claims of knowing Him. It is what He does through His power that matters!
Through this blood that was shed for you, He washes your sins away and makes you holy in His sight. This blood of Christ is able to take us from being sinfully corrupted humans on the way to hell, and turn us into holy saints on the way to heaven. So Jesus says in Mark 16:16, “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Paul also says, Ephesians 2:8 says, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” If you believe that Jesus’ blood has made you holy, and if you have had that blood of Christ applied to you in your baptism, you will be saved. It doesn’t matter who you are - what family you’re from - how sinful you’ve been - the blood of Christ has purified you from ALL sins! So the gate to heaven is only through faith in Jesus. John 10:9 tells us, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” That’s how people from all nations will enter heaven.
- He became LAST so that we could be FIRST!
Jesus was first in the kingdom of heaven and became last. He “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant.” “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Because Jesus became last, we, who deservedly are last because of our sins, have now become first in the kingdom of heaven. Christ is the only way - the narrow way to heaven. Luke summed it up best when he said, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Amen.