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Jesus is still making His way toward Jerusalem. Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?"
Instead of a direct answer to the question, Jesus challenges them to do whatever they have to do to get through that narrow door: 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.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'
"Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' "But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'
"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."
Whatever else is going on here I think Jesus is making a major point. Those who should more naturally expect to be at the kingdom feast will not be there. However, the “outsiders”, the gentiles will be in attendance. The prophets warned the Jewish people to remain faithful or they would lose the blessed relationship they have enjoyed. Also, the prophets make it clear that the Messiah will offer the kingdom to those who are outside the Jewish people and they will accept. In fact, Jesus tells them that people will come from the east and west and north and south—from all over the world—into His kingdom feast. Jesus and His kingdom are not just for Christians or Jews, but for everyone!
Now NOTE what happens: At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you."
Did you hear that? This is a group of the Pharisees warning Jesus about Herod’s intention to kill Him. You know that all Pharisees are not against Jesus and many secretly were hoping that He was God’s promised Messiah.
He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
Then Jesus shows His compassion for the Jewish people: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"
Jesus expresses His deep sadness here. He is sad that those who have the most light are rejecting Him and His message. He is sad that they will not come to Him. He is lamenting over a city—the Holy City of Jerusalem—that has a history of poor treatment of God’s prophets, yet God loves Jerusalem deeply. He says, “How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you were not willing.
This brings us back to the narrow door. The door was open to them, but they were not willing to go in. They were just not interested. Here’s the saddest thing of all. God has visited man through the God-Man, Jesus, and those who taught and thought of Him most didn’t recognize Him.
Jesus warns them that they will not see Him again until they say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” This is attributed to the Messiah when prophesied centuries earlier. I think this is referring to what is known as the 2nd Coming of the Messiah.
One of the keys to understanding this section of Luke is the phrase, “Make every effort” to enter through the narrow door. Literally this means to strive after entering that door. It’s like Jesus is saying to them: “Stop and do whatever you have to do to enter through that narrow door that leads to the kingdom of God while you can. You see, there will come a time when it may be too late to respond.
Here’s the deal: There is a door of opportunity right now that is open to you. You have been introduced to Jesus and His kingdom and He is inviting all those who are interested to enter into that narrow door. Every time a person is introduced to Jesus that narrow door is open. Why is it so narrow? I think it’s because it requires a decision on your part. You can’t just play spectator and slide into the kingdom. You must choose! There is an old saying that seems to fit here. It was a sign at the beginning of a very muddy, dirt road: “Choose your rut well. You may be in it for a very long time.”
Thursday, February 15, 2007
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