Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13–14
Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had likely been on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. Initially He was speaking to His disciples, but by this point in His message, probably multitudes were listening to Him. Having finished the instructional aspect of His message, He now closed the sermon with a set of exhortations.
With the first one, Jesus painted a vivid picture: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (7:13–14).
The Narrow Gate
What is this narrow gate? Jesus was speaking of Himself as the gateway to God. In John’s Gospel, Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9), and “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). The narrow gate is Jesus. He is the only way into the kingdom of God.
But not only is there a narrow gate, there is also a difficult road. The gate is Jesus, but what is the path? It is the Christian life.
The Christian life is a difficult one. Jesus, speaking of this life, said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 10:37–39). The Christian life is one of death to self.
Persecution and Difficulties
Jesus also spoke of the persecution that His followers would face: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Paul, writing to Timothy, said, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
The Christian ethic is difficult to live by as well. It can be summed up in three commands: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength,” “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” and “You shall be holy as I am holy” (see Matthew 22:37–39; 1 Peter 1:16). Even with the assistance of the Spirit of God, how many of us can say that we always live this out as we should?
Another difficulty, which we sometimes overlook because of the Christian veneer over our culture, is that the Christian is a minority in the world. A person who truly follows Christ—who takes the Bible seriously and lives according to it—has always been seen as the odd man out.
The Christian life is difficult. It’s much easier to go with the flow. And that’s what Jesus said most people are doing. But to where do the wide gate and broad way lead? Destruction. Jesus believed in hell, and He said that the majority of people are going there.
One Way of Salvation
There’s one way of salvation. Today’s pluralism says that we should never imply that there’s only one way to God. The Bible flies in the face of this, and Jesus says it right here: “Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (7:14).
The Christian life is difficult, but it leads to life. Even when things become difficult for us as followers of Jesus, we must avoid the wide gate and the broad road, because they lead to destruction. Take up your cross, love God with all your heart, and bear rejection courageously. Be among the few who find life.