Read Luke 13:1-35
Julie and I love hiking. We’ve traveled parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway and been to several of our nation’s beautiful National Parks. And in every case, we were faced with an option: stay on the paved road and enjoy the scenic overlooks, or get out of the air-conditioned car with the soft seats and walk a hiking trail to discover new vistas of beauty.
The beauty we’ve experienced on these hikes along narrow paths, up and down steep terrain, across creeks and streams, far removed from the comfort of our car and the smooth ride of the paved road, was more than worth the effort. If we had stayed in the comfort of our car, we would have missed out on so much beauty, wildlife, and experiences.
In Luke 13, Jesus says that entering in to the kingdom of God requires leaving the familiar, well-worn paths of the world and walking through a narrow door and following a narrow way (v. 24).
That choice is so important and so essential, He said to “make every effort” to do so (v. 24).
Many of us are uncomfortable with that word “effort,” especially those of us who have been taught that salvation is by grace through faith, and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Don’t worry, that’s true. Salvation is not by works. It is by grace through faith. We can’t earn it, and we don’t deserve it. (We know ourselves well enough to know that!)
So, what’s Jesus saying? Let me take you back to Luke 9:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? – Luke 9:23-26 (emphasis added)
Following Jesus means I need to un-follow myself. And that can be hard. In fact, it is hard! It takes effort.
I can’t follow my way and His way at the same time. I can’t stay in the car and experience the new vista.
That’s the battle. That’s the narrow way. That’s the Way of Jesus (John 14:6). The opposing battle that entices you to the well-worn paths is you… maybe better said, the battle in you.
The path accessed through the narrow door not about self-fulfillment. It’s about self-denial. In short, it’s about repentance (13:5).
That’s the hard work. It’s the hard work of repentance. Of turning from my way to His. Of denying myself and embracing Him. Of turning from my way to His. Of surrendering my dreams for His purposes.
A heart set in rebellion against God has not believed.
Salvation is simple, but it’s not easy.
That’s why Jesus said “. . . many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to” (v. 24).
But when we do repent and enter through the narrow door of The Way, a whole new life opens up. Fulfillment. Freedom (13:10-16). Forgiveness. Hope. Joy. Security. The list goes on!
Because Jesus isn’t just the Way or the Truth; He is also the LIFE!
Enter the path through the narrow door. New vistas of life… abundant life… true life… everlasting life… await you.