Make Every Effort To Enter Through The Narrow Door
Key Verse: 13:24
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”
Today’s passage begins with the question from some followers of Jesus. “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” We sometimes want to ask the same question. How many people in the world or in this campus will be saved? How many of us will enter into the kingdom of God? Can that guy enter the kingdom of God? Every year only a few people from all of the world get into Princeton University. This door is opened only for a few people who are the most talented and the smartest. Then, who can enter in the kingdom of God? Let’s read verse 24. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” Unlike the door to Princeton, the door to the kingdom of God is opened for everyone because Jesus sacrificed his life on a cross for the sin of the world. The eternal life is the gift of God in Christ Jesus. (Ro6:23) Then, what should we do since the door is opened? “Enter through the door!” However, this door is narrow and it will be closed. Those who enter through the narrow door by faith in Jesus will enjoy the feast in the kingdom of God, but others will be thrown out and they will weep and gnash their teeth. When the door is finally shut, which side will you be on? Inside – enjoying the feast in the kingdom of God or Outside – weeping and gnashing of your teeth. Jesus says, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door.” Let’s learn what this means.
First, make every effort to enter through the narrow door. (22-30)
Look at verse 22 “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.” Wherever Jesus went; whenever Jesus entered a town or village, he taught the word of God. Indeed, Jesus was a faithful and wise servant of God who distributed the bread of life at the proper time. As a Bible teacher Jesus taught the word of God, hopping that one word of God may be planted, grow and change one’s life to bear the fruits of eternal life.
As Jesus was teaching in one town, someone asked him an interesting question. Look at verse 23. “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” We do not know anything about this person, what passage Jesus might have been teaching on, nor what his motive might have been for asking the question. One thing is obvious that this person was concerned about his or her own salvation. “Am I going to be saved?” This might the question he really want to know. When Jesus had proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and healed the sick and drove out demons, so many came to follow Jesus. They were amazed by his teaching which was full of authority and power. However, since Jesus began to teach self-denial, the cross of mission, the sacrifices, and the cost of discipleship, people had mysteriously disappeared one after another. There were also serious oppositions from the religious leaders. Jesus did not compromise with them. Instead, he severely rebuked them; “You hypocrites! Repent! Unless you repent, you too will all perish.” Then only a few had remained as committed followers. Maybe this person was thinking Jesus was too strict or he was contemplating repentance but he did not want repent, but looked for some easy way out. Maybe this person was contemplating repentance, but knew that it would be difficult to repent and was wavering. Are only a few going to be saved?
How did Jesus answer the question? Look at verse 24. He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” Still Jesus did not offer an easier way of salvation. He did not start a theological discourse on salvation either. Jesus simply tells them what to do to be saved. Jesus said, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door.” What should we do to be saved? “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door!” Here the narrow door is Jesus, the way to the kingdom of God. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). Jesus is the only way to the kingdom of God; Jesus is the only way of salvation. Jesus opened this new and living way to the kingdom of God through his death on a cross. This door is widely opened for everybody. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Eternal life in the kingdom of God is given to anyone who accepts Jesus by faith. Some people are questioning “Why only Jesus?” Some people say that there are many other doors to Heaven such as Buddha, Muhammad, Brahman, or self-meditation. It is true that there are many doors. Though there are 11 doors in my house, I enter through the bathroom door into the bathroom. Though there are many other others, I know which door leads me to where. There is only one door given to us through which we enter the kingdom of God. It is Jesus. Peter preached in Act 4:11-12 that “Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Jesus alone is the way to God and the way to be saved.
Look at verse 24 again. Why, then, did Jesus say to make every effort to enter through the narrow door? Does it mean that we have to work to earn salvation? No. In KJV the words “Make every effort” are translated as, “Strive” To strive mean to struggle. Why do we need to struggle? It is because the door is narrow. Once, I tried to move a refrigerator (36 inches wide) to the second floor since my old one was broken. However, I was stuck in the middle of the stair way for 2 hours because the stairway is narrow. Since I could not change the door size nor the stairway size, I had to change my plan. Instead 34 inches, I took an small refrigerator (32 Inches-wide). We cannot change the way of salvation God has made. Rather, we must struggle to fit to Jesus, the narrow door. What then could be the practical way for us to make every effort to enter through the narrow door?
First of all, we must struggle to obey Jesus’ word. We cannot ignore or modify Jesus’ words according to our convenience. Jesus said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Lk9:23) Changing what Jesus said like “whoever wants to be my disciple may deny themselves and take up their cross weekly and follow me on Sunday only,” we cannot enter through the door. Pursing our selfish ambition, seeking pleasures of the world and easy-going life, we cannot enter through the narrow door. There are other doors which are big and wide and shining doors. Since the doors are so wide and big that we do not need to deny ourselves; we do not need to take up our cross; we do not need to change our plan. However, such wide doors lead us to eternal destruction. (Mt7:13-14) To enter through the narrow door, denying our desires to sleep, we may get up early to gather daily bread; denying our fear and self-conscious, we may share the word God through campus fishing and 1:1 bible Study; putting down our plan, we may follow God’s plan; giving up family centered life, we may live mission centered life of Jesus. We must fit ourselves to the words of Jesus. Sometimes, we need total submission to obey Jesus’ word. How difficult it is to enter through the narrow door. It requires much effort, sacrifices and endures. That is why Jesus said, “Make every effort...”
Second of all, we must struggle against our sins. We must make every effort to repent of our sins. We cannot enter through this narrow door, carrying all our sins on ourselves. We must take off or cut off our sins through repentance. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 say, “do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” No one can enter the kingdom of God without repentance and transformation. We must recognize sin as sin and renounce it. We need to make every effort to repent of our sins. Hebrew 12:4 says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” How hard it is to enter through the narrow door. The struggle against our sinful nature is like dying, but when we do so we can enter and enjoy glorious kingdom of God. Make every effort to obey the word of God! Make every effort to repent of our sins.
Thank God for Morrel Common House Daily Prayer Meeting. They are making every effort to seek God’s kingdom first. Thank God for 5L2F Orchestra. They are practicing the word of Jesus “you give them something to eat!” for 8 years faithfully. Thank God for Campus 1:1 Bible Study and disciple making ministry. Carrying out 1:1 Bible study and rebuking and correcting sheep, we are struggling to follow Jesus’ example. Thank God for these wonderful examples that teaches how to make every effort to enter the narrow door. They are really men of God and women of God who walk by the Spirit. Gal 5:16 read “Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” As we trust in Jesus and ask God’s mercy, the Holy Spirit enables us make every effort, overcoming the power of sin and Satan. Let us make every effort to hear ad obey the word of Jesus. Let us make every effort to repent of our sin.
Second, I do not know you or where you come from.
Here we can learn why many try to enter but not able to. Look at verses 25-27. Jesus said, “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.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!”
Firstly it is because they are not known by Jesus. They had spent time with Jesus. They really enjoyed eating fellowship, laughing and sharing interesting stories and activities with Jesus. Then, what was the problem? The owner repeats the words, “I don’t know you or where you come from.” They assumed that they had a relationship with Jesus, but Jesus did not acknowledge that he knew them. Being known by Jesus is quite different than knowing about Jesus. Through Google or Facebook, we can learn a lot about a leader or famous culture maker like the President Donald Trump or Stephen Curry. But if we send them a friend request they may ask, “Do I know you?” It means, “I don’t know you.” It is not so serious not to be known by them. However, not being known by Jesus is very serious. We cannot enter the kingdom of God without personal relationship with Christ. It does not matter how long you have been attending worship service and how long you have been fellowship with others in the church. The fact is that salvation is never based on a casual relationship with Jesus. The matter is that you must be known by Jesus personally.
How can we be known by Jesus? Jesus does promise in Luke 12:8, “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.” For example, when Peter said publicly to Jesus, “You are God’s Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus said, “And…you are Peter” (Mt 16:16,18). When we are known by Jesus, we have a mutual and interactive relationship with him. When we listen to his words as the word of God and put them into practice, Jesus acknowledge us as brothers and sisters. Through this relationship Jesus gives us eternal salvation. No matter how many times we hear the word of Jesus, we have no part with Jesus when we do not practice nor obey the word of Jesus. When Jesus says “Repent!” or “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” and we ignore his words and live as we please, then we never receive forgiveness and acceptance by Jesus. Jesus would say, “I don’t know you.” Through obedience to the word of God by faith in him, we come to have personal relationship with Jesus.
Also we must let Jesus wash our sins. Once Peter rejected Jesus’ offer when Jesus wanted to wash Peter’s feet. Then Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (Jn13:8) When we humbly come to Jesus, Jesus will accept us and establish personal relationship with us. From there, we can live a new life in the fellowship with Jesus. Let us come to Jesus personally making every effort to repent and obey his words so that we may be known to Jesus. Jesus will call our names when we enter through the narrow door and he will greet one by one in the kingdom of heaven. Otherwise, we will be thrown out. Jesus would say “Away from, all you evildoers.” Someone might say “I never done something evil.” However, rejecting Jesus is what evils are doing.
Second, they are not able to enter because they are late. The timing is important. The door will be closed. We must go through the door when it is open. When the door closes, it is too late. We try to enjoy our sinful desires as long as possible, thinking we will repent tomorrow. We can indulge in sin freely, but once we do so, we cannot get out freely. We are caught by its power. Then we get used to be late to Bible Study or Worship Service. Can we be late to the kingdom of God? If we are late to the kingdom of God, we cannot enter it for the door will be closed. We need to enter salvation today through repentance, while the door is opened and no miss the opportunity.
Look at verses 28-30. Those who have faith in him will enter the kingdom of God and enjoy the feast but others will be thrown out and weep and gnash their teeth.
Many Israelites assumed they had a reserved seat in the kingdom of God because they were children of Abraham. However when the time comes, they would be shocked by two things they saw. Firstly they would see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets and they themselves thrown out. Secondly they would see many Gentiles, whom they believed would suffer eternal torment and whom they felt were unworthy of salvation, are as sitting at the banquet table of the kingdom, along with the prophets and the patriarchs of Israel. Jesus said, “Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last” (30). The key to salvation is not their Jewish heritage but faith was faith and not their Jewish heritage. Regardless their nationality, multitude of people will come from east and west and north and south and enter the kingdom of God by faith in Jesus Christ. The kingdom of God is blessing so great, a gift so free, but with an offer so limited in time that we must diligently pursue it. 2 Corinthians 6:2 “… behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is ‘the day of salvation.” Now is the day of salvation. Let’s us come to God by faith in Jesus alone. We may enter the kingdom of God while the door is still open.
Third, how to carry out God’s mission (31-35).
In this passage, we learn Jesus’ attitude toward his mission of salvation. At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you” (31). In fact, it was the Pharisees themselves who had rejected Jesus and had determined to put him to death. They tried to intimidate Jesus into going back to Judea and hinder the work of God. Anyone who is threatened to death by a crazy megalomaniac like Herod would be scared.
How did Jesus respond? Look at verses 32-33 “Go tell that fox “I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal. In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!’” No one could interrupt Jesus’ Messianic ministry because Jesus’ life was not under Herod’s power, but God’s. He would carry out his mission to take care of people without fail. His final goal was to go to Jerusalem and die on the cross according to God’s will. Jesus had the conviction that he would not die until his mission was accomplished. He was not naïve of the danger. He knew that he would suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he would be killed. Still he decided to press on toward Jerusalem to open the door to salvation, by his sacrificial death. Jesus said “I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow…In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day…” He even did not post pone one day. It was business as usual for Jesus, even if that was dangerous, even if it meant death. No threat of danger would turn him from his mission. How could Jesus do this? It was because he knew God’s heart. God is not willing that anyone perish, but wants everyone to come to salvation (1Ti 2:3-4). But the salvation must come through the way of the cross. Jesus obeyed God’s will voluntarily and wholeheartedly to die for our sins (Heb 10:7). Even smallest danger or threat may be enough to deter us. We readily turn from any pain and danger and any risk. If we are his servants, we should expect danger, pain, persecution and cross of our own. Let us be disciples, and not mere pleasure-seekers. Let us keep on preaching the gospel today and tomorrow and the next day until we accomplish God’s will to change this campus into a kingdom and priests.
Look at verse 34-35. Here Jesus expresses his own heart and the heart of God toward Jerusalem – brokenhearted for the people of Jerusalem. Jerusalem was to be the place of His rejection and death. Jerusalem was the center of Jewish pride and rebellion against God. Jerusalem had the reputation for killing the prophets. Nevertheless, Jesus loved that city and its people. Jesus’ heart’s desire was to gather them together like chicks under the wings of their mother. Yet they were unwilling to repent and refused his care (34). As a result, their house became desolate, and would remain so until Jesus came again (35). Jerusalem was the center of the nation and God’s chosen city. But when they did not know Jesus as the Messiah and had no relationship with him, they could not enter the kingdom of God.
Knowing Jesus and being known by Jesus is the key to enter the kingdom of God. This is what it means to enter through the narrow door. Let’s make every effort to go through the narrow door, which is Jesus himself.
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