(Matthew Chapter 7, Verses 13-14)
One of the disciples once asked the Lord, “Will those who are saved be few?” (Luke 13:23) The Lord responded saying, “Strive to enter by the narrow door,” and here in this section we see that same teaching being repeated in a slightly different manner. Here the Lord is saying we need to “Enter by the narrow gate.” He says that there will be many who take the wide and easy path that leads to destruction, but the gate and the path that leads to life are narrow and hard. Finally he says that those who even find it will be few, let alone those who enter by the narrow gate.
Locating this narrow gate will be hard for not many will even find it let alone be able to enter. Earlier in the sermon on the mount Jesus made the following points. “Ask and it will be given, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened.” These three aspects of finding things out and searching for the truth all had a promise that the searching would not be in vain. The fact that he said this three ways suggests the level of importance there is in making the effort to search out the way.
Then in this scripture we see that it will be hard to find and the way will be difficult to walk that leads to life. Too many people may not be prepared to walk the hard road and will be lost through taking the easy way out. The easy way is a life of compromise and half measures, of listening to what others say and accepting it without verifying the truth of a matter. But as Christ has taught us, we must do the work. We must ask, seek and knock if we are to even find this narrow gate, let alone enter it.
Will the road to life be hard? The truth is that it will be hard in some ways, for there will be the need to subjugate everything for the sake of walking the path to life. It will require a complete change and sometimes a full reversal of human nature, while being bombarded daily by temptation through the weaknesses and passions of the flesh as well as the attacks from the devil and his hosts. But we must also weigh this with other scriptures where the Lord says to, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30) We need to balance these seemingly two opposing positions to try to understand what is happening.
When we come to the Lord he does teach us. We see also that there are many levels of teaching and understanding in the Lord, which Paul described in 1 Corinthians 3:11-12, “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw.” There is no other foundation by which we may have life than following Jesus Christ. But there are many levels of teaching that are built on that foundation. Consider all the many Christian denominations and non-denominational churches that exist today. All of them have the foundation of a belief in Christ, but then their teachings range from what could be considered rubbish like chaff and sticks, up to precious gold and silver. The analogy Paul makes also ties in with the Lords teaching about how hard the narrow gate will be to find, for it is easy to find chaff and grass for hay, but it is increasingly difficult to find gold and silver. To find the more precious things requires hard toil, searching and great effort. Finding the narrow path will be the same.
Now Paul makes the point that all who have the foundation of Christ may be saved, but they will be tested with the fires of adversity. And fire which will destroy wood, hay and chaff actually has the opposite effect on gold and silver, for they are refined and purified even further through fire as the dross is melted and burned off.
It is my opinion that the reason Jesus said there will be few who find the narrow path is that he was talking about those who find the path in this age. Ultimately everyone who seeks the Lord will need to be made perfect if they are to eventually live with the Father, but there will not be many who reach that standard in this time on earth. Jesus talks of two flocks one of which he calls the little flock (Luke 12:32). He describes the little flock in John 10:1-16 and how they follow the shepherd (Jesus) wherever he goes and listen to his voice. In the last verse he then mentions a second flock that is not of this same group that must be brought in also to make one large flock. Now when we go into Revelation we see there is a group called the 144,000 who fit the description of this little flock in John 10, for they are with the Lamb and follow Jesus everywhere he goes (Rev 14:4). These 144,000 are those who achieve perfection in this age and they go into heaven with Christ singing. These are the ones I believe who found and entered the narrow gate and who found the gold teaching that Paul alluded to.
But we also see a second group in Revelation referred to as a, “…great multitude that no man can number.” (Rev 7:9-17) They also go into heaven but in a much different way. For the 144,000 went into heaven following Jesus singing and with much joy, but this second group we see had suffered on this earth. For it says they were hungry and thirsty and beaten down by the sun and scorching heat. They had need of shepherding and teaching and they were in tears for the Lord will wipe every tear from their eyes. They were in torment while on this earth because they lacked the teachings and the guidance necessary to overcome the issues in this life. They had not found peace nor perfection, but they followed Christ to the best of their ability. They are those who had the foundation, but the building on that foundation could not withstand the fire of testing.
The aim for all of us is to aspire to find and by enter the narrow gate and to aspire to the standard of the 144,000. Naturally not everyone will achieve that level in this time otherwise there would not be only 144,000. But the closer we can get to that place through prayer, study and searching for the truth, the less we will suffer in this age and the less tears will need wiping from our eyes when the Lord sets up his kingdom.