“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread? Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish? As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask. So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:7-11
In my Bible there is a break here with a new heading called “The Narrow and Wide Gates.” While I often find these headings helpful; sometimes they can cause me to read each section as a stand-alone. Sometimes a break in scripture doesn’t mean there was a break in what was being taught. Often if you read before or beyond a heading you can find context otherwise missed.
The fact is when we get to Matthew 7:13 Jesus has been talking for a while – well past lunchtime. I don’t know if he paused and collected himself, took a sip from his water bottle, but I do know he never said ok, now I will talk about a road and a gate and this should be separated contextually from what I was just talking about.
He continued saying,
“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)
I have heard these two verses of scripture taught on from the pulpit many times. And mostly, they have been delivered as a warning. The message would come with a cautionary tale of people who fell off the narrow road into sin. The implication that living a holy life, a good life, is really hard and the margin for error is just shy of a sliver. There was a sense that once we accept Jesus into our hearts, we have a long narrow restricted journey to look forward to. The upside of course is that if we can somehow pull “the narrow road life” off then when we die it will be worth it cause heavens waiting.
In all honesty, the narrow road has never sounded like much fun and as far as heavens concerned, why do I have to wait?
What I find interesting is directly before the narrow road comments, Jesus talks about Gods expansive goodness. He describes how most of humanity isn’t aware of how much God wants to give to us. How receiving from God is as simple as asking. He describes God as a good and loving father who wishes to give us our hearts desire. Quite a contrast to what I’ve been taught regarding narrow road Christianity.
I would like to suggest that the verses directly before the narrow road section of scripture provide context for the narrow road Jesus talked about. In fact I believe Jesus was laying the groundwork for an incredible truth found in the Narrow road/gate story.
So here’s what I think – Jesus was referring to himself. He is the narrow gate and the narrow road. He was giving those in the crowd a heads up regarding what was to come. He knew the plan. He knew He was going to die and rise from the dead for us. He new He was going to make life abundantly available to us. (I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10)
Jesus died and rose so we could have life. It is His gift to us – available for the asking. Its something we can ask for and then receive. Its something we can search for and it will be found. It’s a door we can knock on and it will be opened. It’s a good gift from a loving and good father. We can only accept it or not. It’s not something we can earn or strive for.
Here is the thing, there is never striving when it comes to Jesus. There is only and always surrender. And surrender is how we say yes to God, its how we receive; it’s the narrow gate and road engaged. Through Jesus, we have died, been reborn and been given a new life. The narrow gate and road is a decision to surrender to God and once we have accepted Jesus into our hearts we enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
Through this narrow gate, we receive the treasure – the one that is beyond imagination, a relationship with the King and citizenship in His Kingdom. We enter through the gate - His name is Jesus, The Way The Truth and The Life - and into a Kingdom that is beyond what we can ask or imagine. But he still wants us to ask and imagine.
The Kingdom of heaven is the “life” Jesus refers to. The Kingdom is not something we enter at our physical death. The Kingdom is something we get to live here on earth. So lets get this scripture right. It’s not a strict striving hardship works based religion we’ve entered into, it’s a wide-open love affair. It’s simply saying yes to His love and yes to becoming love
I think that the narrow road and gate leads to a landscape that is grander in scope than we could possibly imagine. That the journey found on the other side of the narrow gate is bigger than our wildest dreams. That Gods Kingdom isn’t a someday Kingdom found at the end of an arduous and sever journey. On the contrary, His Kingdom is a today Kingdom where we personally know the God that told us to “ask and it will be given” – We know the God that “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) The God who said, “Everything I have is yours.”
I don’t think there is a road on the other side of the cross. I think it’s more like there is a landscape of wide open spaces. A landscape full of oceans and mountains and plains and deserts and planets and galaxies and that they are ours to discover and claim for the King. I think this is the joy set before us, to discover the goodness of God in the land of the living. (Psalms 27:13)
I would like to introduce you to a life where the Kingdom of God is at hand and those that know His love and know who they are in the context of his love can engage this Kingdom in the here and now. Its wide open.