Jesus was once asked, “Lord…are only a few people going to be saved?” Jesus replied, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able” (Luke 13:22-24). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus has spoken about the character of a disciple and what life as a disciple should look like. Now, He urges everyone listening to become His disciple. He said, “Enter the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it” (Matt 7:13-14). In this sermon we learn more about the narrow gate and the difficult road.
The Gate is Neither Closed Nor Guarded
Jesus replies by using the imagery of a door/gate. This door/gate leads to salvation and only those who enter through the gate shall enter the kingdom of Heaven. Jesus said the gate is narrow, but not closed. Jesus said there are few that find it, but that does not mean it is hidden. In Luke 13:24, Jesus stressed that we must “strive to enter through the narrow door.”
We must strive to enter the narrow door, but our striving is not against God. God is not prohibiting anyone from entering. Paul wrote that “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13). We are also told that God “wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). God also “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). It is the devil who wants to keep people away from Christ. He is crafty and a liar, he can blind people’s eyes spiritually (2 Cor 4:4), he can entice and tempt, but he has no power to prohibit anyone from being a Christian.
The Gate is Narrow
Jesus stresses that the we must “strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (24). Jesus’ answer to the question, “will few be saved?” is “Yes, there are few who are saved because many will seek to enter and not be able.” Sadly, many will seek to enter incorrectly. There is a way to be saved, but only one way. You must enter His way. Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Why must we strive to be saved and why are there few who are? Consider the following: repentance (change) is necessary (Luke 13:3), Jesus said His message causes division (Luke 12:51), a follower of Christ must “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23), and he must be willing to “lose his life for my sake” (Luke 9:4).
Two main points to consider with verse 24: first, there is only one way to be saved (the door is narrow) and second, many seek to enter incorrectly (will not be able). Concerning the first point, there are not many paths to God, but One: Jesus Christ. 1 Timothy 2:5 says, “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Peter preached that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). The door is narrow, but it is open.
Concerning the second point, the door is narrow, it is open, and it must be entered correctly. You enter the door by striving according to God’s Word. This does not mean that salvation is given to those who work the hardest and strive the best because the Bible is clear that salvation is by grace not works (Eph 2:8-9). No, this striving is an intentional struggle to resist the wrong ways of “salvation” and to trust completely in Jesus Christ for your salvation. The many who fail to enter are striving in vain because they are seeking to enter through their own goodness. They have “zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness” (Rom 10:2-3). Therefore, they are not able to enter the narrow door.
Jesus says “strive to enter through the narrow door” because the door will not always be open. Jesus says, “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’” (25). We are currently living in the age of grace in which “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom 10:13) therefore we must “seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). We live in a favorable time for salvation. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “For He says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” But this age of grace will one day come to an end when the Master of the house (Jesus) shall shut the door of salvation and “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10). Strive to enter the narrow door while it is open, commit your life to Jesus Christ today.
The Road is Difficult
The crowd listening to Jesus speak were interested in what He had to say, but many were not actually committed to following Him. Jesus said, “the road that leads to life” is difficult because “few find it”. It’s easy to live for yourself. It’s easy to go along with the culture. It’s easy to keep your head down and not cause trouble or mockery for yourself. But, the road that does not lead to Christ leads to destruction. The road that leads to Christ, leads to life. It may be difficult, but it is worth it. When Jesus was asked whether few will be saved, He responded by encouraging you to be saved. Which road are you walking? Are you following Christ or are you heading down the road to death? Seek Christ and surrender yourself to Him.