Friday of Pentecost 11 – Luke 13:22-30 

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Here goes Jesus again, getting us into trouble. A narrow door! Jesus, don’t know you that the watchword for this generation is openness, tolerance, and a full-throated embrace of whatever a person wants to be!? What if Hollywood finds out about all this narrowness? Won’t we be cancelled? Will Tom Hanks and the rest of the famous actors denounce Jesus and His movement? Actually, yes, Jesus does know that. He told us to expect it (Matthew 5:11-12). This is why Peter urged us to save ourselves from this crooked generation (Acts 2:40).

Jesus talks about narrowness, a narrowness which does allow me to be or do what I want and still pass through that door to eternal life. Our wicked and crooked generation has made an idol of the human will. If I want to be something I can do it, even if nature itself resists it. Anything which constrains my true self and deepest desires must be bad, according to this philosophy. Technology has often made the realization of those desires possible, if not in fact, at least in appearance. But Jesus operates with a different set of values. He knows that our human nature has been broken and following our human will, our deepest desires, is a path to death and misery.

Too often Christians have spoken a blessing over those desires. We claim that Jesus walks among us (vs 26), but in truth He does not know this sort of Christianity, and its members do not really know Him (vs 27). The rainbow emblems on the signs of many churches in my town is only one way this happens. We have become altogether too complacent about heterosexual infidelity inside the flock (read the Hebrews text from yesterday carefully!). Jesus has enjoined us to serve our neighbor and love our enemy, but we have been content to live in our safe neighborhoods, fund our retirement accounts and neglect the needs of our fellow human being.

Paul tells us that we work out our faith with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). There is only one name under heaven by which people are saved. It is Jesus. Listen to Him, heed His word, and strive for that narrow door. It won’t be comfortable or easy. You likely will be reviled for it. He calls the whole world, all peoples, through that narrow passage in which all my human pretense is stripped from me. I am a sinner, in need of His forgiveness. It is the only way.

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