Enter Through the Narrow Door
Narrow means something that is not wide. It is made of small width, which makes it difficult for large amounts of material to go through it.
So, Narrow means something shorter, restricted, tight, slender and full of constraints.
Therefore, when we enter through the narrow door, It is a choice to go through the more tighter, and hard road.
Going through the narrow road, is choice to go through the door that is not chosen by many. It is a choice to be different. It is a choice not to wander through the door that others wander easily.
The Narrow Door is not chosen by many. It is not the way of the world. Therefore, Jesus is saying this door is the one that leads to salvation. In John 10:7,Jesus identifies Himself as the door to our salvation. In essence, Jesus is the door,” not “a door.”
Therefore, Jesus is the Door to salvation and only a few wanders through this door, for many have chosen the way of the world.
How many Shall be saved?
As Jesus walks through the towns and villages making his way to Jerusalem. Someone approaches Him and says, ‘Sir, will there be only a few saved?’ But Jesus answers Him, ‘Try your best to enter by the narrow door, because, I tell you, many will try to enter and will not succeed”.
Jesus uses the Greek word agonizesthe when He says “try your best to enter in by the narrow door”. The Greek word means to strive, to make effort, to struggle etc.
In 1 Corinthian 9:25, Paul uses the word when he says that every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath. So they train intensively only to receive perishable gifts (1 Tim. 4:10), He also uses the word when talking about fighting the good fight (1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7).
So, the implication here is that God expects us to cherish salvation as an athlete cherishes the victor’s crown.
We need to have the hunger for our salvation. We need that athlete’s discipline and determination in pursuing entrance through the narrow door. In essence, we have to work and make effort towards achieving our salvation.
The Hard Teachings are Part of the Way.
When we look at what happened today, the first question that comes to my mind was what made this person to ask Him this question? Something must have prompted him.
The point is that It was noted that this question was popular among the rabbis’ in the time of Jesus, And some of the hard teachings of Jesus must have also prompted that.
Remember that some of His disciples also asked the question when He tells them in Luke 18:25-26 that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. So, those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
So what may be these teachings that made him think that?
Let explore these teachings:
1. Watch out and guard yourselves against every kind of greeds Lk 12:15
2. Don’t be all upset, always concerned about what you will eat and drink. Instead, be concerned about God’s kingdom. Lk 12: 29 & 31
3. Sell all your belongings and give the money to the poor Lk 12: 33
4. Settle matters quickly with your accuser before he takes you to court. Lk 12:58
5. Don’t fear those who kill the body but can not afterwards do anything worse Lk 12:4
6. Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44).
So if you look at these teachings from a human perspective, you will agree with this person that asked the question that he may find it hard to keep to these teachings.
So, Jesus’ response to this is “Do your best to go in through the narrow door because many people will surely try to go in but will not be able to”.
Therefore, entering the narrow door is not easy. Jesus made this clear when He instructs His followers to “strive” to do so.
Salvation is Not without A Price.
Man’s salvation was extremely expensive, not in the form of silver, gold or money of any kind. We were not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, as of a lamb without blemish.
God commends His love toward us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. Indeed, no gift has ever been so great, but no price so great has ever been paid for a gift.
Therefore, in every effort we make in life there is always a price to it either knowingly or unknowingly.
We are also to understand that not only was there a great price paid by Jesus Christ, the giver of the gift but there is also a cost that we the recipient of this gift, must bear as well.
That is why Jesus’ answer to the man’s question in today’s Gospel is to ‘strive to enter through the narrow door’.
Secondly, the Jews already see themselves as chosen people. So for the average jew, there is no need to strive because salvation already belongs to them.
Therefore, Jesus instructs that they must pass through the narrow door. As Paul says in Philippians 2:16, they have to work out their salvation in fear and trembling.
Passing Through the Narrow Door.
Therefore, Salvation requires our earnest effort, urgent attention, and careful self-examination. It requires our earnest effort because the door is narrow. It requires following the way of the Lord and not the world.
Also it requires our urgent attention because the door is soon to be closed. It requires our careful response and self-examination because once the door closes, the door will be eternally closed.
So, Jesus is more concerned about the personal salvation of His hearers. So, rather than opening it up for discussion with the man, Jesus gives a command that applies the question to His hearers’ hearts: “Strive to enter by the narrow door.”
Strive to Enter By the Narrow Door.
Like we previously affirmed, Strive comes from a Greek word used for athletic contests and war. It implies a great deal of effort.
You do not win wars or athletic contests by being passive. You will never see an athlete receiving the gold medal, who says, “I had never worked out or run in a race until a few weeks ago.
An athlete who wins strives to win. He/she invests great energy and effort into winning. It is not an accident if he/she wins. It is the result of deliberate and sustained effort. Not everyone receives the prize, only a few are winners.
The fact that the door is narrow implies that it takes some deliberate thought and effort to go through it.
So, there is only one door, which is Jesus Christ. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
The entrance is narrow and exclusive, not broad and all-inclusive. Many people have abandoned this door to seek personal glory and demands.
You may say, “I believe that God is loving and that He will accept everyone who tries to do his best. I believe that all sincere people will get through the door.” But, the fact is that according to Jesus it is narrow, not wide. Everything is through Him.
The way of the world does not lead to salvation, but the way of Jesus does. But we tend to choose the world rather than the way that leads to eternal life. The way of the world offers luxury, pleasure, excitements.
It is this way that the devil offers Jesus Christ during His temptation, but Jesus chooses the way of salvation.
This was also presented to Adam and Eve and they failed. Yet this is the way we choose, because the way of salvation seems not to give us what we yearn for.
Jesus is asking, “Are you striving to enter the narrow door? Are we making our salvation a matter of deliberate and sustained effort?
Are we sure that we are entering the narrow door as defined by Jesus and not a broad door of our choosing?”
We may say, “we thought that salvation is a gift, received simply by grace through faith, not a matter of our effort. How does this harmonize with striving for it?”
Jesus is not talking about salvation by works or human effort. But He is talking about our attitude toward it. How serious are we?
Those who are only mildly interested in salvation will not obtain it. Those who do not view salvation as an interesting topic for discussion are missing the point.
The people who say, “I believe that all roads lead to God and all good people will go to heaven” are engaging in human speculation, but they are not submitting to Jesus’ divine revelation. They are putting their thoughts about being open-minded and tolerant above Jesus’ words that the door is narrow.
The salvation of our eternal soul should not be a casual subject that is good for an occasional stimulating theological discussion. It ought to consume our attention.
It shouldn’t be a matter of mild interest that elicits a halfhearted response. We need to take great pains to make sure that we have entered the narrow door.
How Can We enter Through the Narrow Door?
So the question now is how can we Christians be able to keep these teachings to seek for our salvation? How can we live it? How can we go in through the narrow door?
The truth is that it is not easy to make it and that is why many will surely try to go in but will not be able.
Some of the ways through which we can make it are
1. Life in the spirit: There is no condemnation for those who live in union with Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1. When we live according to the spirit we will be able to please God. For the scripture says “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God”. (Rom 8:5-8.
2. Righteous life: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. Don’t conform yourselves to the standards of this world.
Do everything possible to live in peace with everybody. Hate what is evil and hold unto what is good. Be patient with your troubles. Don’t take revenge.
Be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep. Pray at all times. Show a gentle attitude toward everyone. Fill your mind with those things that are good and that deserves praise (Cf Rom 12, Phil 4:5-8).
3, Finally, a close relationship with Jesus is the key.
Therefore, let us walk confidently along this road.
May God have mercy on us. May He grant us the grace to succeed in all we do and gain salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.