Daring to ask ourselves the Question: Take the Broad Road or Narrow Road, – Is Salvation Easy? Matthew 7:13-14

Matthew 7:13-14The Message

Being and Doing

13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.

The Word of God for the Children of God

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

The people who have gathered around him are so many, hundreds, perhaps by now, as the Sermon on the Mount has continued for an extended period of time, and as Rabbi Jesus continues to sit and speak and teach even into the thousands.

However many people have gathered around that Mount, the people remain very interested in what this man, Jesus is saying – it is radically different!

It is a new teaching they have not heard before from their Temple leaders.

This blessing is pronounced upon their lives and then another and another.

Each one seemingly more contrary and more counter – Temple traditions.

Each one is more thought provoking than the previous one, taking all these listeners on a journey from traditional thought into one of Kingdom thought.

Rabbi Jesus is teaching this gathering the obvious, that there is a “traditional way”, a more or less “relatively easy, acceptable way” of moving through life.

Now, Rabbi is introducing a new thought process he wants each of us to begin considering, to begin devoting some time to discussion and debate amongst themselves – but not just amongst themselves – but their families, neighbors.

Jesus lays out another clear “a-traditional” choice that each of us can make.

It is in no way a covenant command or “a do right it now or else” demand.

But a “new” teaching meant to encourage listeners to a new pattern of thought.

Question: What effects, if any, did this “new” teaching have upon the thoughts, actions upon those 1st century listeners, upon their choices of faith, hope, love?

The Gospels are not too specific in this regard other than to repeatedly mention that this Rabbi consistently had large followings and gatherings everywhere he walked, that hundreds and even thousands came when he had entered a village.

When he had left those villages, the people would “move heaven and earth” to follow him through storms and over waves an waters which threatened to end their very lives, wherever he went, they did, for more of his radically teachings.

Radically different, the thought there is a wide, easy road leads to destruction. And there is a decisively harder, narrower road of discipleship leading unto life.

It can be easy to assume that the broad road includes only people who do not believe in God, or maybe people of some other faith who do not “know” Jesus.

So, today, we might ­assume that Jesus is drawing a contrast between people in the church and those who, for some reason, are now completely outside of it.

But in light of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, there’s another way to think about this passage.

Jesus has been teaching his listeners that they need to move from outward religion and ritual into a true relationship with God, our need to go beyond merely “behaving” ourselves to ­actually walking in union with the Father.

So, today, as we read this passage again, as we refresh ourselves with truth, we seek a new anointing of wisdom greater than our own, we need to realize Rabbi Jesus is describing, for those who ARE listening, and DOING. not only a choice between choice or no choice, faith or no faith, hope no hope, love and no love.

There is also a choice to be made between empty, surface-level religion and genuine hardcore “walk the walk, talk the talk, living the life” discipleship.

The call of this passage is to move “beyond” rituals or cultural faith and to truly enter a full-life, full throated relationship with God, a connection marked by our maximum dependence and maximum an utter submission unto his will.

IS THE CHOICE OF SALVATION AN EASY CHOICE?

Matthew 7:13-14Easy-to-Read Version

The Way to Heaven and the Way to Hell

13 “You can enter true life only through the narrow gate. The gate to hell is very wide, and there is plenty of room on the road that leads there. Many people go that way. 14 But the gate that opens the way to true life is narrow. And the road that leads there is hard to follow. Only a few people find it.

Here is the appeal to which Jesus has been moving through the whole sermon.

He gives those who had gathered that day, those who were listening, the call to choose, decide now about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation.

The way to life is on God’s terms alone; the way to destruction is on any terms a person wants to contrive, because every way but God’s leads unto the same fate.

Rabbi Jesus has been teaching the people to begin thinking of, about, God’s own standards throughout the sermon, standards that are holy and perfect and that are a-traditional, diametrically opposed to the self-righteous, self-sufficient, hypocritical standards of man-typified by those of the scribes and Pharisees.

He introduces to them the very real possibility of what God’s kingdom is like and having them compare, contrast, what its people are like-and are not like.

Now, here, Rabbi Jesus presents the choice of entering the kingdom or not.

Rabbi Jesus focuses upon the inevitable decision every person must make, the crossroads where he must decide on the gate he will enter, the way he will go.

Our lives are filled with “brutally” complicated internet driven decisions-what to wear, colors in vogue, what to eat, where to go, what to do, what to say, what not to say, what to buy, whom to marry, what career to follow, and on and on.

Many so called- and allegedly complicated decisions are actually “trivial and insignificant,” and some are beyond critically essential and life-changing.

The most critical of all is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom.

That is the ultimate choice that determines our eternal destiny.

It is that decision that Rabbi Jesus introduces here and calls upon us to make.

In perfect harmony with His absolute sovereignty, God has always allowed men to choose Him or not, to “follow Him or walk away” and He has always pleaded with them to decide for Him or face the consequences of a choice against Him.

Since mankind has consistently turned their backs on Him from the Fall, God has bent every effort, spared no cost in wooing His creatures back to Himself.

He has provided and shown the way, leaving nothing to man but the choice. God made His choice by providing the way of redemption.

The choice is now and forever more present before the entirety of mankind.

While Israel was in the wilderness the Lord instructed Moses to tell the people,

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 30:19–20).

After Israel came into the Promised Land, at the end of his long life, Joshua confronted the people again with a choice: of continuing to serve the Egyptian and the Canaanite gods they had adopted or of turning to the Lord who had delivered them from Egypt and given them the land promised to Abraham.

“Choose for yourselves this today whom you will serve ….” Joshua pleaded (Joshua 24:13–15).

On Mount Carmel the prophet Elijah asked the people of Israel,

“How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21).

The Lord commanded Jeremiah to set the choice again before His people:

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’ ” (Jeremiah 21:8).

In John 6:66–69, Jesus called for a choice from all of the people who gathered:

“As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore. Jesus said therefore to the twelve, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’ ”

That is the choice to compare and contrast call God has been making to men since they turned away from Him, and it is the supreme appeal of His Word.

In his poem The Ways, late British poet, hymnwriter John Oxenham wrote,   

To every man there openeth
    A Way, and Ways, and a Way,
    And the High Soul climbs the High Way,
    And the Low Soul gropes the Low,
    And in between, on the misty fiats,
    The rest drift to and fro.
    But to every man there openeth
    A High Way and a Low,
    And every man decideth
    The Way his soul shall go.

He also writes the hymn “In Christ There is No East or West.” (1908)

1 In Christ there is no east or west,
in him no south or north,
but one great fellowship of love
throughout the whole wide earth.

2 In Christ shall true hearts ev’rywhere
their high communion find.
His service is the golden cord
close binding humankind.

3 Join hands, then, people of the faith,
whate’er your race may be.
All children of the living God
are surely kin to me.

4 In Christ now meet both east and west,
in him meet south and north.
All Christly souls are joined as one
throughout the whole wide earth.

The not so simple process of making the compare and contrast, world versus God choice we are asked by Rabbi Jesus to make is complicated by being simply somewhere in between the poem and the hymn, our souls and His eternal life.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit,

Let us Pray,

Psalm 16The Message

16 1-2 Keep me safe, O God,
    I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to God, “Be my Lord!”
    Without you, nothing makes sense.

And these God-chosen lives all around—
    what splendid friends they make!

Don’t just go shopping for a god.
    Gods are not for sale.
I swear I’ll never treat god-names
    like brand-names.

5-6 My choice is you, God, first and only.
    And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
    And then you made me your heir!

7-8 The wise counsel God gives when I’m awake
    is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I’ll stick with God;
    I’ve got a good thing going and I’m not letting go.

9-10 I’m happy from the inside out,
    and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed.
You canceled my ticket to hell—
    that’s not my destination!

11 Now you’ve got my feet on the life path,
    all radiant from the shining of your face.
Ever since you took my hand,
    I’m on the right way.

Adeste Fidelis! Venite Adoremus! Dominum.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

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Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

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