Two Paths: Enter By The Narrow Gate - Matthew 7:13-14
Most people are good people and good people go to Heaven. This is a common belief of many, if not most, in our society. Even those who have a general understanding of the work of Christ and of the Gospel can be guilty of slipping into this way of thinking. Talk of judgment and exclusivity can be uncomfortable, which leads many people to simply believe that only the worst of the worst will be judged after death.
While this way of thinking is popular, it’s not consistent with the teaching of Christ. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus teaches that there are in fact two paths with two different destinations – one leading to eternal life and the other to eternal judgment. But contrary to popular belief, Jesus says that the path to destruction is wide, easy and well-travelled while the path to life is narrow, hard and less travelled.
A Four-Part Conclusion
Throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus has been teaching us what it looks like to live as citizens of the Kingdom of God, but as He brings the sermon to a close, He shifts His focus slightly. He ends His sermon with a four-part conclusion about entrance into the Kingdom of God.
His conclusion is made up of four parts – and each part reveals a contrast. First, He speaks of two different paths (7:13-14) and then two different kinds of fruit (7:15-20). Third, He addresses two different professions of faith (7:21-23) followed by two different kinds of builders who build on different foundations (7:24-27).
While each of these contrasts emphasizes something slightly different, they all tell us something about entrance into the Kingdom of God, who will be welcomed and who will be excluded.
The Call: Enter by the narrow gate (7:13a)
In this small paragraph Jesus emphasizes that there are two paths and only two paths. Every person will either take the path toward destruction or the path toward life. Jesus begins this important discussion with this call: Enter by the narrow gate. This is a call from Jesus to enter the gate and follow the path that leads to life.
The First Path – Entering by the wide gate (7:13)
- A wide gate – The first path is entered by a wide gate. This is an entrance that everyone sees and that most people choose.
- An easy way – The wide gate leads to an easy path. That’s not to say that life is always easy, but it’s a path that doesn’t require repentance, self-denial, sacrifice or suffering in the way the other path does.
- Psalm 73:1-14 – Consider the story Asaph and his struggle with those on the easy way.
- A well-travelled way – Jesus says that many (most) enter the through the wide gate and travel the easy way. This is the path we are all born on and most never leave.
- Leads to destruction – This is where we recognize the weight of this teaching from Jesus. This is the path that most are following, and yet it’s a path that leads to eternal destruction. While we may not like to think about this kind of judgment, the Bible is clear – there is eternal judgment for all who die apart from Christ (Matthew 25:31-41; Revelation 14:11; Ephesians 2:1-3).
- Psalm 73:13-20 – Consider the story Asaph and how his perspective changed when he remembered the fate of the wicked.
The Second Path – Entering by the narrow gate (7:14)
- A narrow gate – What we learn from Scripture is that the narrow gate is Christ Himself. It is only through Christ and His work on the cross that we can be forgiven and welcomed onto the path toward life (John 14:6; Acts 4:10-12).
- A hard way – The path toward life is a way of repentance, self-denial, sacrifice (Luke 18:18-30; Mt. 16:24-26) and suffering (John 15:20-21).
- A less-travelled way – Because the narrow way is hard, there are few who will find and follow this path. Most will not choose to humbly repent and submit to following Christ (Matthew 22:14; Luke 13:22-30).
- Leads to life – While the way is narrow and hard, the end of this path is eternal life (John 3:16). This reality should motivate us to follow Christ and compel us to tell others about their need to trust Him.
- Psalm 73:23-28 – Consider the story Asaph and how he found hope in the truth about eternity and life in the presence of God.