Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 7:13c “. . .for wide is the gate,. . .”
Jesus forces us to confront the critical, decisive moment of entering the strait gate for a reason. He presses us on this issue, for there is a dangerous alternative.
Whereas the narrow gate requires repentance and renunciation, the wide gate has written on its two pillars, “Do as you like,” and “No money down.” It is appealing, requiring no commitment and no backbone. The wide gate is easy to enter, asking no sacrifice, no surrender, no self-denial. It is spacious enough to let in all the sins we have to drop in order to enter the strait gate, and wide enough to allow in all the self-sufficiency treasured by those determined to be their own saviors.
This gate has no restriction; constraint is cast off. The wide gate is the wrong gate, but we choose it because we want to indulge ourselves, to live the wrong kind of life–total freedom, no boundary, wide open space, what Jesus calls a broad way.
Matt. 7:13d “. . .and broad is the way,. . .”
We prefer the wide gate because it sets us on the broad way of life, the path of least resistance. On the broad way of living, God’s laws given as a hedge to protect us are deemed a nuisance and trampled underfoot. Egocentric flesh is gratified at all cost. On this permissive path, we never worry about the Bible’s archaic rules.
The broad way of living requires no exertion, no spiritual struggles. Self can float downstream, for the winds are fair and the tide favorable. On the broad way, we can take with us everything, including our sins. John MacArthur tells of a man who chose Islam over Christianity, and gave as his reason, “Islam is a noble, broad path. There is room for a man and his sins on it. The way of Christ is too narrow.”
There is no doubt the broad way of life is most in agreement with our sinful natures. The path of no spiritual self-discipline does seem to promise greater freedom. However, to those on the broad way, I suggest your trip is not as much fun as you thought it would be when you first chose the wide gate. Earthly pleasures do lose their charms, don’t they? Yesterday’s thrill does not have enough kick to satisfy today, does it? Habits become more like addictions than thrills. “The titillation diminishes and the tyranny grows” (Maclaren). You on the broad way have thought you were buying freedom, but have actually been selling yourself to a slaveowner.
Matt. 7:13e “. . .that leadeth. . .”
The broad way of living is not stationary. It has consequences beyond what is happening today. We are not standing still. Our present course of living leads us somewhere. The broad way is so spacious that one can wander aimlessly on it, but its freedom is an illusion. This so-called free life is lived, as it were, on a moving sidewalk, or better, a ski slope. The ride is headed downhill, and will end abruptly.
Be wise. Look down the road. See what’s at the end of the journey. A crash landing awaits at the bottom of the hill. The broad way “comes to the edge of the abyss, and there it stops, but the traveller does not. He goes over” (Maclaren).
What makes this reality even sadder is, most people on the broad way never take time to consider their destination. They merely drift mindlessly along. This is strange behavior indeed, for most of these same people never take a trip without thinking about where they are going. Has anyone in this room ever boarded a bus, plane, or train without knowing in advance its destination? If we are wise enough to do this, should we not take time to consider where our life-path is headed? I ask us all to heed the Bible’s wise counsel, “Ponder the path of thy feet” (PR 4:26).
Reconsider your basic assumptions about being on the broad way. You say, “You’re only young once, life is short, you only go around once in life.” These are true statements, but have you interpreted them correctly? You’re only young once–think about this; is it an argument to be used for or against sinning? Life is short–ponder this; in light of it, should we sin more or less? You only go around once in life–this being the case, since we do not get a second chance at this life, would it not behoove us to find out what this once around is for? Do not go to Hell by default. Take time to study, to investigate, to discuss possibilities and ramifications.
A road’s destination is so important that it is often named for where it goes. Jericho Road goes to Jericho. In our city, St. Louis Street leads to St. Louis, Republic Road to Republic, Willard Road to Willard, Battlefield Road to Battlefield.
The only way we can know for sure we are on the right road is by taking time to find out where the road ends. This is basic common sense, yet many who would never enter a highway without knowing exactly where they are going often take no heed to the destination of life’s most important road. Such blatant disregard for a journey’s destination is foolish. It is illogical to make meandering an end in itself.
Know where you’re heading in life, and where your life is heading. Heading for the strait gate and narrow way results in a life heading toward peace. Heading for the wide gate and broad way produces a life heading toward destruction.
Beware the destination of life’s broad way. Visualize this path as a funnel. It is entered at the wide gate, but results in a narrowing down to death. On this turnpike lurks a hidden price to pay we are not told about at the beginning. Satan conceals the full price tag of his toll road, not telling of the balloon payment at the end.
Jesus is honest up front. He is realistic, quoting in advance His road’s full price. He offers no false pretenses. Everyone knows exactly what to reckon on.
The narrow way may not appear glamorous. Requiring a down payment to get in, it is heavy loaded on the front end, but is worthwhile, for it ends in real life.
I urge upon us the Biblical wisdom offered in Jeremiah’s sinful era. At a time like ours, when people were so given to sin that they were not at all ashamed, nor even able or willing to blush, the Lord God said, “Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls” (JR 6:16).
When life’s paths are weighed in light of their destinations, the reasonable, correct choice is obvious. Friend, exit the broad way, and enter in at the strait gate.