Author Don Schwager, Servants of the Word
GOSPEL READING: Luke 13:22-30
22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24 “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, `Lord, open to us.’ 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 iniquity!’ 28 There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. 29 And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit 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.”
Meditation: What does the image of a door say to us about the kingdom of God? Jesus’ story about the door being shut to those who come too late suggests they had offended their host and deserved to be excluded. It was customary for teachers in Jesus’ time to close the door on tardy students and not allow them back for a whole week in order to teach them a lesson in discipline and faithfulness.
Who will be invited to enter God’s kingdom?
Jesus told this story in response to the question of who will make it to heaven – to God’s kingdom of everlasting peace and eternal life. Many rabbis held that all Israel would be saved and gain entry into God’s kingdom, except for a few blatant sinners who excluded themselves! After all, they were specially chosen by God when he established a covenant relationship with them.
Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one’s membership as a people who have entered into a covenant relationship with God does not automatically mean entry into the everlasting kingdom of God. Second, Jesus asserts that many from the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations would enter God’s kingdom. God’s invitation is open to Jew and Gentile alike.
Jesus is the door to the kingdom of heaven
But Jesus warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door. What did Jesus mean by this expression? The door which Jesus had in mind was himself. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved (John 10:9). God sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to open the way for us to have full access to the throne of God’s grace (his favor and blessing) and mercy (his pardon for our sins). Through Jesus’ victory on the cross he has freed us from slavery to sin and hurtful desires and addictions, and he has made us sons and daughters of God and citizens of his heavenly kingdom. We are free now to choose which kingdom we will serve – the kingdom of light and truth ruled by God’s justice and wisdom or the kingdom of darkness and falsehood ruled by Satan and a world system or society of people who are opposed to God and his laws.
Following the Lord requires effort and commitment on our part
If we want to enter God’s kingdom and receive our full inheritance which is stored up for us in heaven, then we must follow the Lord Jesus in his way of the cross through a willing renunciation of our own will for his will – our own life for his life – our own way for his way.
Why did Jesus say we must strive to enter his kingdom of righteousness and peace? The word strive can also be translated as agony. To enter the kingdom of God we must struggle against every force or power of opposition – even the temptation to remain indifferent, apathetic, or compromising in our faith and personal trust in Jesus, our hope in holding firm to the promises of Jesus, and our uncompromising love for God above all else (the “love that has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Spirit which has been given to us” – Romans 5:5).
The Lord is with us to strengthen us in our trials and struggles
The good news is that we do not struggle alone. God is with us and his grace is sufficient! As we strive side by side for the faith of the Gospel with the help and support of our brothers and sisters in the Lord (Philippians 1:27), Jesus assures us of complete victory! Do you trust in God’s grace and help, especially in times of testing and temptation?
Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your guiding presence and your merciful love towards me. Through the gift of your Spirit fill me with courage and persevering faith to trust you in all things and in every circumstance I find myself. Give me the strength to cling to your promises when the world around me begins to shake or crumble. And when my love and zeal begin to waver, fan into my heart a flame of consuming love and dedication for you who are my All.
3 Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him”; lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.
5 But I have trusted in thy steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: To enter the narrow door, by Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD)
“‘Wide is the door, and broad the way that brings down many to destruction.’ What are we to understand by its broadness? …A stubborn mind will not bow to the yoke of the law [the commandments of God]. This life is cursed and relaxed in all carelessness. Thrusting from it the divine law and completely unmindful of the sacred commandments, wealth, vices, scorn, pride and the empty imagination of earthly pride spring from it. Those who would enter in by the narrow door must withdraw from all these things, be with Christ and keep the festival with him.”(excerpt from COMMENTARY ON LUKE, HOMILY 99)
Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright © 2020 Servants of the Word, source: dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
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