In the final scenes of his sermon on the mountainside Jesus draws things to a close. He has had one eye on the crowd all the time whilst speaking to the disciples. But now it seems he makes sure he speaks to everyone.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7 v 13-14)
It is a call to everyone, ‘What are you going to do with me?’ We know from John (10:9) that Jesus saw himself as the gate.
The gate comes first. Otherwise we would be working our way down the narrow path doing our very best to stay on it in order to get to the narrow gate, Jesus, who will then let us into eternity. Some Christians/Churches really believe it is that way round. I’m thankful I don’t.
Choose Christ. It isn’t the popular choice, few find it. But the disciple of Christ is beyond the narrow gate and is walking out their discipleship within the kingdom which Christ has spent the majority of his sermon talking about. The narrow path is free of hypocrisy, it loves others and it knows true happiness.
This is the eternal path now, beyond the gate, it is the road of life that leads to life.
Last Sunday I discussed eternity with my mother. I’ve been struggling with the brevity of life. She agreed that life has gone so quickly but she was calmer and more accepting of it. She’s been on this narrow path for over 30 years longer than me. Her days on earth are most probably shorter than mine. But one thing I noticed, there was no fear of getting to the gate and wondering whether she would be let ‘in’. You see, she’s beyond the gate. She chose Christ many years ago and has been walking the narrow road ever since. There is a confidence of life.
This last few days I have been thinking of 2 friends who died 4 years apart and both called David. Here one moment and gone the next. Friends disappear on this narrow path. We all know the pain of losing loved ones. But beyond the gate the Bible says there is no death, only life. So what happens? Perhaps it is like what David wrote in Psalm 18:19 “He brought me out into a spacious place”. Maybe beyond the narrow gate walking the narrow road we just at some point move from the sight of earth, whether quickly or through a terminal illness, we just continue to walk the road of life that began way back at the narrow gate and we arrive into a large wide-open space of life totally fulfilled and extremely satisfied, perfect in every way. God has been leading us all along until, “he rescued me because he delighted in me” and we are what my roots of the Salvation Army termed for the death of its salvationists as ‘Promoted to Glory’ and God continues to lead us within the open space.
I’m learning that beyond the gate life actually isn’t short, it is in fact eternal. At some point we disappear from this narrow path, it is what happens, but there’s no fear of what happens next, there’s no uncertainty, there’s no entrance exam; we have just entered a new space. It’s what happens to our life beyond the narrow gate.