“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 7:13-14
My friend Clive used to have impressive knowledge of the UK’s road network. If you gave him any two points on the British Isles he would be able tell you at least a couple of different routes to travel from one to another. Whilst this was undoubtedly a useful skill, he has unfortunately been surpassed by sat-navs, and mobile phones with smart apps.
Today’s verses are interesting, since Jesus explains how there are just two routes through life: a broad road, that culminates in a wide gate, and a narrow road that ultimately leads through a small gate.
Clearly, when confronted with these two options, the easiest road to follow would be the broad road. The broad road could be seen to be a bustling superhighway, with plenty of lanes to choose from. The person who opts to travel down this road will have the opportunity to choose their own route, within the scope of the broad highway. The ultimate destination of this road is easy to arrive at too, since on reaching the destination, the highway leads through a wide gate.
The second road is rather different. This route could be seen as a single track that offers little opportunity for choice; if you follow this road, there is only one option available to pursue, and that is straight on. The only alternative would be to veer off the track and lurch into the undergrowth which surrounds it. The small gate at the end of this road would probably prove tricky to manoeuvre through; if you’re following this road the driver would need to ensure that the vehicle is perfectly aligned, or else risk crashing into the gate posts and veering off wildly.
Of course, Jesus is here talking about the routes that we opt to take through life. As far as he is concerned there are only two possibilities; we pursue the simple, wide road, or the trickier narrow road. Whilst the broad route is more straightforward, ultimately it leads to destruction. The narrow route leads to life.
The two options open to us are to follow Jesus, and allow him to act as our shepherd and guide along the narrow road. Ultimately if we pursue this route we will find eternal life in God’s new creation. This is the route that he urges us to take when he tells us to “enter through the narrow gate.”
The other option is to follow our own route, to turn the sat-nav off, and pigheadedly assume that we know where we are going and how to get there. This broad route gives us the freedom to make our own path along the broad road, but ultimately leads to destruction, death and despair.
The narrow route is undeniably a harder route to pursue, and Jesus himself said that few will find this route. But the rewards for finding, and successfully following, this route are great, and ultimately, the only sensible course to pursue. The Christian life is not always easy, and along the way the person who chooses this route will inevitably experience bumps, holes and sections that seem impossible to navigate. Yet Jesus is always with us as we pursue a Christian life, supporting us, loving us, and guiding us with the Holy Spirit.
Which route have you chosen? Do you trust in your own knowledge and understanding of life and the universe and therefore follow the broad road? Or do you accept that you need guidance, that you need a shepherd to lead you through life, and therefore stick firmly to the narrow road? Are you on the road to life, or the road to destruction?