8. "The Narrow Door of Salvation"
When one reads this passage, he senses Jesus' sadness — sadness that only a few will be saved, sadness that many will not enter the door, sadness that many of his people will be excluded from the feast, sadness that Jerusalem resists his love and desire to gather them to the Father.
But even in sadness, his disciples are learning — the early disciples and certainly we latter-day Hearty Boy disciples. I invite you to delve into Jesus' words to understand his values, as well as his heart.
Bottom line: When Jesus was asked, "How many will be saved?" he warned that many would try to enter the narrow door to heaven but only after it was too late. So, are you in God's kingdom, now?
To watch this 40-minute video, a sermon message by Greg Boyd of Woodland Hills Church, St. Paul, MN, taped on September 7, 2008, click its Start arrow.
The Narrow Door Luke 13:22–30... Who gets saved? How does someone get saved? These are big questions, and the answers will surprise many people. Discover what Jesus meant when he called us to enter the “narrow door.”
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The Narrow Door of Salvation
This passage begins and ends with Jerusalem, where Jesus would die. His eyes were constantly set on the Holy City and his ultimate destiny, as he moved through the towns and villages of the Judean hills, on his way towards the city of the Temple, the center of first-century Judaism.
How Many Will Be Saved? (13:23) [Click to open/close each link to Scripture.] "Someone asked him, 'Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?'"
Luke seems to deliberately avoid telling us who the man was, what group he may have represented, and what his motive might have been for asking the question. Whatever the man’s motive, the question provided Jesus with the occasion to teach his audience an important lesson.
We hear the same question debated today. We can only learn the answer if we listen to Jesus' response. He gives us an authoritative answer, though it's not a direct one. Instead of answering Yes or No, he characteristically tells a story. In it, he warned that many would try to enter after it was too late.
Strive to Enter (13:24–25a) He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.'"
The door to God's kingdom is narrow. Jesus is the only way to God. Jesus is the narrow door to be entered. This is no casual entry, whenever we're ready. It's urgent! We CANNOT fail to get to this appointment on time!
Trying But Being Unable to Enter (13:28–30) "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last."
In our passage, Jesus says, "Many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to" (13:24). Why can't they get in? Is the way barred? No, but we know from Jesus' other parables that we've recently covered that entry into the Kingdom of God requires repentance and change. Many, many want this goal — the inheritance of the Kingdom, heaven — so long as it costs them nothing, especially their allegiance and obedience. They try to enter, but don't succeed once they learn the cost.
Add to this the fact that those who'd tried the first time but failed to enter, come again, see the door closed, and begin pounding on it. They knock and plead. But to no avail.
Another Great Banquet?
Now, Jesus presents a great eschatological (referring to the end times) banquet.
We see this banquet first prophesied in Isaiah:
Notice that it is a banquet "for all peoples" — that is, not just Jews, but also the Gentiles, virtually everyone around the world.
On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine —
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will ... swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth (Isaiah 25:6–8a).
When Jesus was asked, "How many will be saved?" he warned that many would try to enter the narrow door to heaven but only after it was too late.