January 10

Bible Reading: Matthew 7

Matthew 7:13-14, “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. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

I walked that path so many times, as I knew where it would take me — to my favorite of all fishing holes, at the top of a roaring rapids where salmon and steelhead would rest for a bit on their upstream journey. What a sight to behold! The swift flowing water of the beautiful North Umpqua River roared as it tumbled over the falls.  With tall stands of old growth firs adorning both sides of the canyon, and an occasional eagle in flight overhead, I’d sometimes find myself singing the words to “How Great Thou Art” as I made cast after cast, hoping to hook into a big fish.

It was not an easy path to follow, as there were twists and turns, narrow places, downed trees, washouts, and steep inclines and descents to traverse. Rumors of a resident cougar and the reality of ever-present poison oak called for a watchful eye. Afternoon temperatures would sometimes reach 100 degrees, so if you were packing out a couple of steelhead the trek was even harder. Sometimes I made a wrong turn and ended up in the brush. I got poison oak on more than one occasion. And sometimes I’d make a misstep and fall. But year after year, and time after time, I keep going back because that was the path I needed to take if I wanted to get to where I wanted to go.  Our text speaks of two different paths leading to two different places.  It shouldn’t escape our notice that there are only these two paths.  Every person is one path or the other, but only one path leads to a desirable destination.

Entrance to the narrow path is through a narrow gate.  We are elsewhere instructed that there is but one way of salvation, and that is through Jesus Christ.  He is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” and “no one comes to the Father except through (Him)” (John 14:6).  “There is salvation is no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).  To enter by the narrow gate is to abandon all other hope and look to Christ alone to save.  But no one enters through the narrow gate apart from God’s intervention.

The advantage of the broad path is that you can believe as you wish and behave as you want.  You’ll find plenty of encouragement along the way (Ephesians 2:1-3; Proverbs 14:12; Romans 1:32).  The problem with the broad path, or course, is that it leads to a horrific destination.  It is like a super wide freeway leading to a sudden drop off into a bottomless abyss.  The destruction spoken is of the eternal kind (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).  Though soul after soul plummet down into the abyss, still death is never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20).  Being both difficult and disdained, the narrow way is the path less traveled.  But it has the advantage in that it’s the only path that leads to the abundant and eternal life bound up in Jesus.

“Be up and on your journey. Enter in at the gate at the head of the way, and do not stand hesitating. If it be the right road, you will find the entrance somewhat difficult, and exceedingly narrow, for it demands self-denial, and calls for strictness of obedience, and watchfulness of spirit. Nevertheless, ‘enter ye in at the strait gate.’ Whatever its drawbacks of fewness of pilgrims, or straightness of entrance, yet choose it and use it.  True, there is another road, broad and much frequented, but it leads to destruction. Men go to ruin along the turnpike road, but the way to heaven is a bridle path. There may come other days, when the many will crowd the narrow way, but at this time, to be popular one must be broad—broad in doctrine, in morals, and in spirituals. But those on the strait road shall go straight to glory, and those on the broad road are all abroad. All is well that ends well. We can afford to be straightened in the right way rather than enlarged in the wrong way, because the first ends in endless life, and the second hastens down to everlasting death.”

Charles Spurgeon

Lord, deliver me from the temptation to keep in step with the masses, for its only on Your path that my feet find a safe and desirable path in this deceitful and dangerous world.

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me I still will follow,
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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