THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.
For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (NASB).
A child stood gazing at a freshly opened box of chocolate candies--lips pressed together, concentrating fully upon the decision at hand. The rule was "Only one, no more than one, but any one you want." Should it be the biggest one, or would the small round one be the favorite peppermint cream? Then again, the long one might last longer. Which to choose? And how to decide?
Perhaps a child's decisions seem trivial to us as adults. Oh, we recognize that they are important to the child, but we have a broader perspective. That is the question in making choices, isn't it? To have an eternal perspective on life and its decisions is to know how to choose.
I would like for us to examine the subject, "The Road Less Traveled."
I. THE BROAD AND NARROW WAYS VV. 13-14
We live in world of choices. Every day of our lives we have to make choices. For instance, you have to make a choice of which clothe to wear to work on Monday. You have to make a choice of what kind of food you ought to eat for breakfast. You make a choice of which grocery store to buy your groceries. Before you attend church on Sunday morning you have to make a choice regarding the dress or clothe to wear. This year (2012) both in the United States and in Ghana, the citizens of mature age have to make decisions who would be their President through the ballot box.
When it comes to religion the choices are many because we live in a pluralistic world. Here is the area where Christians experience much criticism. Some people think that Christians are bigots and intolerant because we believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation (John 14:6). However, our choice or decision to follow Jesus Christ is dependent on divine revelation, which came more than two thousand years ago.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus emphasized strongly the necessity of choice. For example, He presents a contrast between two kinds of righteousness and of devotion, the two treasures, the two masters and the two ambitions have been fully portrayed. Now the time to make a decision has come. Is it to be the kingdom of Satan or the kingdom of God, the prevailing culture or the Christian counter-culture? The basis of your final destination begins with your decision about Jesus Christ.
In verse 13, Jesus begins His statement with an imperative, "Enter by the narrow gate." What is striking about these verses we are going to deal with is the absolute nature of the decision before us. You and I would prefer to be given many choices as we do when we go to store, restaurant, or car dealers. We would even prefer to blend our ancestral gods with Jesus Christ. However, Jesus cuts across our easy-going syncretism. Jesus will not allow you the comfortable solutions you propose. Instead, He insists that ultimately there is only one choice, because there are only two possibilities from which to choose.
First, there are two ways. This concept is already found in the Old Testament (for example, Psalm 1). Jesus states that one way is easy. The word easy means, "Broad, spacious, roomy." There is plenty of room on this way for diversity of opinions and laxity of morals. It is the road of tolerance and permissiveness. It is a road with no restrictions. The motto of this road is "Do your own thing." This road has no curbs, no boundaries of either thought or conduct. It has no boundaries of right or wrong (moral relativism). Travelers on this road follow their own inclinations that is, the desires of the human heart and its fallenness. Superficiality, self-love, hypocrisy, mechanical religion, false ambition, self worship (secular humanism), and suspicions do not have to be learned or cultivated. Effort is needed to resist them, but no effort is required to practice them. That is why the broad way is easy.
The hard way on the other hand, is narrow. Its boundaries are clearly marked. Its narrowness is due to something called "divine revelation," which restricts pilgrims (travelers) to the confines of what God has revealed in Scripture to be true and good. Today, our children attend school in the United States with fear of gunshots, knife stabs, because we have removed the Ten Commandments and prayers.
Several years ago, some young people conspired to commit an act of evil. They drove their car to a busy intersection and removed all the four stop signs and left. Later that day there were deadly accidents on this busy road. I believe some of the people involved in the accidents died. Eventually, the young men who did this were arrested. During the interrogation, they said that they were just having fun and did not want or mean anybody to die. That is exactly what happens to people who choose the broad way. They want to have fun, they want to live without any restrictions, and they want to do their own thing. They have decided that they do not need any divine compass to guide them, so they remove all the parameters God has placed around them as Adam and Even did in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3). Does your life look like you are traveling on the broad way? It is a fact that revealed truth (Jesus and the Bible) imposes a limitation on what Christians may believe, and revealed goodness on how you may behave. And in a sense, this is hard. However, Jesus commands you and me who are His disciples to follow Him to enter through the narrow gate. He says this because He knows what He is saying.
Second, there are two gates. The gate leading to the easy way is wide, for it is a simple matter to get on the easy road. There is evidently no limit to the luggage you can take with you on this road. You need not leave anything behind; not even your sins, self-righteousness or pride. The gate is easy to find; the path is easy to follow. There is plenty of room for many people to wander in and continue in whatever direction they wish. The gate leading to the hard way, on the other hand is narrow. You have to look for it to find it. It is easy to miss. Furthermore, in order to enter it you must leave everything behind--sin, covetousness, ambition, even if necessary family and friends. For no one can follow Christ who has not first denied himself/herself. The entry is also a turnpike gate: it has to be entered one by one. How can we find this gate? Jesus Christ Himself is the gate. He says, "I am the door, if anyone enters by Me he will be saved" (John 10:9). This "narrow gate" refers to a confined space with little room. You need careful directions to find the "one way" to get through the gate." The hard road refers to the road of discipleship often filled with persecution and opposition. Nevertheless, this hard road alone leads to life--eternal life.
Third, there are two destinations. In Psalm 1, prospering and perishing are the alternatives. Moses made it clear still, "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil . . ., blessing and curse; therefore choose life" (Deut. 30:15, 19). In this text, Jesus teaches that the easy way, entered by the wide gate, leads to destruction. The easy way, which is wide, presents a prospect too awful to contemplate without tears; for the broad road is suicide road. By contrast, the hard way, entered by the narrow gate leads to life, even to "eternal life", which explains in terms of fellowship God.
Fourth, there are two crowds. There are many, who are entering by the wide gate and traveling along the easy road to destruction. The broad and easy road is a busy thoroughfare, where all kinds of pedestrians throng. The narrow and hard way, which leads to life, however, seems to be comparatively deserted. Those who find it are few. Jesus saw multitudes on the broad road, laughing and carefree with apparently no thought for the dreadful end to which they are heading, while on the narrow road there is just a "happy band of pilgrims," hand in hand, backs turned upon sin and faces set towards the celestial City, "singing songs of expectation, marching to the Promised Land."
The word that is common to both crowds, the "few" and "many," is the verb 'enter.' it is because the many enter by the wide gate that Jesus urges you to enter by the narrow gate. This implies that neither crowd is ignorant of the issues; each has been presented with a choice and has deliberated one or the other way. This relates to those of you who have had opportunity to make a decision for or against Christ. Jesus is speaking to those of you, who have heard the gospel but you remain indecisive. Your indecisiveness in itself is decision. We live in a world where people do not want to commit themselves to anything. People want to go to churches where they do not have to pay tithes and offerings. Men and women want to live together without a commitment to marriage. Some students want to go to school where they do not have to take exams. Some people want to live in a country where they do not have to pay taxes. Therefore, what Jesus is teaching here is not popular, because people like to be uncommitted. Everybody resents being faced with the necessity of a choice, but Jesus will not allow you to escape it.
Christian Digest carried this story. The town in which I live has an elevated railway. One of the stations is near a burial ground, Calvary Cemetery. For many years, because in that part of the town there were many more dead than living folk, the trains did not stop at the cemetery except on request. Just after leaving the nearest station, the guard would open the door and say, "Next station is Calvary. Train stops on signal only. Anybody for Calvary?"
It is a parable of life's train. At all the other stations every train stops. At Market Street, at School Street, at University Avenue, at Main Street, at Vanity Fair, at Broadway, at Church's Street, at Home Avenue. No special notice is needed, but to get off Calvary--that means a choice and an expressed desire. Therefore, if you want to follow Jesus Christ you have to make a choice, this is called the cost of discipleship. The choice is yours. You can choose the broad way, which many people travel, or you can choose the narrow way, which is less traveled.
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