The Parables of Jesus: Day 11

The Narrow Gate

by

Today's Text: Luke 13:22-35, Matthew 7:13-23

In this study of the Parables of Jesus, we are reading many of the stories Jesus used to teach hearers about how to live as His followers. Each day we’ll read parables in their immediate context, focusing on a different category of parables each week. Then we will work through a series of questions to understand the meaning of the text and take to heart the “secrets of the kingdom.”

Editor’s Note: In this Parables study, Jesus Himself is telling us stories—stories He wants us to reflect on and process. Rather than asking our writers to write their own stories about Jesus’ stories, we thought it would serve you and the text better to provide questions to help you dig into the meaning of each day’s parable. If you find a parable or passage particularly confusing, stop and pray. Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to you in His Word, and thank Him that we can know Him without knowing all the answers to our questions.

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Week 2: Parables about Repentance and Grace

Stories about other people often reveal things to us about ourselves. This week’s selection of parables all deal with themes of repentance and grace, and in them we see that Jesus meant for His parables to stir the hearts of His hearers. As you read, let these parables serve as a kind of mirror, and ask what Jesus is showing you that you might not have otherwise seen. Use the questions below to help.

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Day 9 Reading: Luke 13:22-35, Matthew 7:13-23

Questions:

1. In several places in the Gospels, including today’s reading, Jesus says the last will be first and the first will be last. What does this mean?

2. What problem is Jesus’ parable, The Narrow Way, responding to, and what is the parable’s outcome?

3. What is the central point of this parable?

4. What is your response to this parable?

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  • Carleejanae

    CONVICTION!!!! Convicted. Lord. Whoa.

  • It is frightening to think about how easy it can be to disillusion ourselves into believing our comfortableness and often complacent faith will lead to salvation. As good and faithful as we try to portray ourselves, this is not always reflective of what’s inside, but eventually the mask can no longer be held and the truth of our inner state is revealed. Yes, the Christian walk that leads to bearing good fruit is difficult, uncomfortable, and counterculture, but he results and the God waiting for us are worth it. When I think about this a question come to my mind. Which is scarier: doing the hard heart work God asks me to do I enter deeper relationship with Him and allow Him to refine me or hearing the Lord proclaim that He never knew me because I didn’t really invest? I can say for certain the last option is scarier. I want to do the work now with God molding and supporting me. I want my life to reflect the good fruit that only the life source connection with God can produce. And one day I want to rejoice as He returns for me and lovingly claims me as His own!

    • Melissa

      Thank you for posting this Erica! Great insight and I completely agree. This parable really sheds light on how we should be living as Christians. It is a difficult road but we have a great God who is always there for us and lead us if we fix our eyes on Him.

    • Shannon

      “It is frightening to think about how easy it can be to disillusion ourselves into believing our comfortableness and often complacent faith will lead to salvation.”

      Erica, I’m new to believing in God and accepting Christ as my savior. Forgive me if I sound ignorant but I’m still very much in the learning process. Still learning things that may seem second nature to those more seasoned in the gospel.

      I feel over the short time I’ve been studying I’ve received mixed messages as to how one is saved. What you wrote that I highlighted above is one I want to understand more fully. Are we not saved by accepting our savior as the redeemer and by grace alone? It was my understanding that no matter how imperfect we are and how many “masks” we wear that as long as we accept Christ as having paid for our sins and we continue to repent we are given the gift of salvation. Must we do good works to be accepted by God? I guess my fear is that my humanness won’t be enough as I’m so very far from perfect!

      I’m certainly not trying to get a free pass to heaven by doing nothing I promise! Ha! I’m just confused as to what “the good news” is and what it encompasses I guess.

      Your words are inspiring and I would just love your input and perhaps help me clear up my confusion. XoXo

      • Bonnie

        Shannon, I have been saved a long time and your questions are still valid for me. We are saved by grace, but then we are expected to serve God–that is the “works” part. “Serving” looks different for each of us. What you do to serve is between you and God, and it will change and grow over time. For example, some women serve God by staying home with their children. Other women serve by being in the work place outside the home and helping others by being a good friend and praying for others even if they don’t know it. Many of us do all of the above. Personally, I am a quiet Christian. For a long time I felt guilty about not “witnessing” with words to others, but now as a counselor candidate at a Christian seminary, I understand that my calling is more for listening to others, coming alongside them for a time to support them on their journeys closer to God. Being a good example is also very powerful if you’re shy or not called to overt service. So, dear Shannon, please do not feel there is a one-size-fits-all way to serve. Again, it’s between you and God. I take what Erica said as a great reminder that once we are given the gift of Salvation by grace, we need to give back to God through how we live our lives. Start by asking God through the Spirit to give you little nudges toward and away from how you are spending your life. He will guide you. If you fear making “mistakes” just move ahead, God will show you how to tweak things as you go. Keep in mind that He does NOT waste layers of our lives. Everything comes together for His good if you trust him–even things that you did or that happened to you before you became a Christian.

        • Shannon

          Bonnie, I read this first thing this morning and so appreciate you replying! I took a screenshot of your words because they are good ones to remember. One thing I’ve learned about God in the short time I’ve been on this journey is that He most certainly works through us to help others. I believe this is one of those occasions. Lots of love!

  • This parable is more important now than ever. So many churches have become false prophets for the sake of blending in with the world, and they are leading heir flock down the wide path to destruction. My pastor told us last week that in his prayer God has told him he is leading the church back to tradition. The ancient traditions of the churches in Jesus’s time. Anointing with oil, gathering in small groups, etc. I was so relieved to hear this during a week when a very famous pastor got national attention for sharing his very worldly opinion. Ayayay. Jesus Jesus Jesus draw near to your church. When the time comes, I want to be known by God. And at times I know that I exercise more selfishness than humbleness, which is not hard to do I today’s society. Jesus I pray that in everything I do that I would consciously be humble and grateful in your eyes and in the eyes of my peers. God cast out on me any selfish or evil behavior that does not glorify you!!! Happy thanksgiving sisters in Christ! I pray that’s above all you are blessed with comfort, peace, and you are fulfilled and satisfied with Jesus alone!

  • Luke13: 22 “Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he went, ALWAYS pressing on toward Jerusalem.” (NLT, emphasis mine)

    Is there a more narrow door than the one Jesus went through? Even when he knew what awaited him, he continually pressed onward in the mission God had given him.

    In all I do, may I be godly rather than religious. May I press on toward God and serving His kingdom regardless of knowing what lies ahead (or not knowing what lies ahead!). That as I walk the narrow road, I would return immediately when I stumble off of it into the thorns. That I would prune, water and nurture my walk to produce the good fruit of the Kingdom. That my life would honor the one who gave me Life. In Jesus name – Amen

  • My son just came in as I’m finishing up this devotion. He asked what it was about. I shared with him that I remember when I was his age and being taught this very lesson. I am so glad that he knows that we all must enter through the narrow gate. Happy Thanksgiving to you all dear sisters! I am so thankful for all of you and all your support and prayers especially since I came out and finally voiced what’s been going on in my life the last four months. A couple of days ago a friend of mine texted and said that she’s been encouraged how strong I’ve been through all this. I take no credit. It’s all God. It’s all you my sisters holding me up and praying for me. It’s my mom, my best friend, all the Godly women around me lifted me up. I am not walking this journey alone. I am so thankful! God is good!

  • Diane Huntsman

    I feel you, Laura! It is alarming to read those words, because I think most of us question if we are doing enough or being enough to actually be included in the “few” that the scripture references.. truth is we could never do enough or be enough.. it is through “faith” in His work that saves and yes we are to respond and live in a way that shows (fruit) that we belong to Him.. and that does require us caring about how we live.. seeking Him with our whole hearts.. abiding in Him.. I don’t think we do all these actions because we fear not being included in the “few” these actions are a natural manifestation of salvation.. a saved life produces a fruitful life because the Spirit of God takes up residence in a regenerated soul and the Spirit is alive and working in and through the saved life.. all this to say, I don’t think we ever “feel” saved so we have to walk by faith “knowing” we are saved because God said to all those who call Him Lord to them He gave eternal life.. (paraphrased)
    Laura, we believe, we trust His blood has given us life eternal, we’ve agreed with Him that we are sinners in dire need of a Savior who is named Jesus.. we are the few.. we are on the narrow path. Be blessed friend, you belong to Jesus, your name is written in the lambs book of life.

    • Pam

      Diane, thank you so much for these comforting words. This has long been a passage I’ve struggled with and feared. Your words have soothed that fear and given me peace. Jesus’ peace.

  • Entering the “Narrow Gate” seems discouraging upon first reading, but I’ve come to look at it like this:
    “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. . .”
    I see this as when we lean on our own understanding, our own idea of fairness or right versus wrong, and act accordingly, tacking God’s name to the front of it. This isn’t following God — it’s following ourselves.

    “. . . the one who does the will of my father. . .” (Matt. 7:21) enters the kingdom of heaven.
    Actively seeking God’s guidance and following that gut-wrenching feeling when we know we need to do something, but really don’t want to. At least for me, this is following God’s will. It is difficult, and means setting our own understanding aside in favor of the truth.

    Maybe it means not focusing so much on “Christian” laws that everyone needs to follow — because that is legalism, not seeking God’s will. Maybe it means taking the guidelines that the Bible sets for our lives more seriously. I think following Christ will most likely look different among each believer, but will consistently have the common thread of seeking heavenly wisdom above earthly understanding. Thoughts on this are welcome and appreciated!

  • Laura Drose

    Truthfully Matthew 7:14 “and few only find it” scares me to pieces. I understand that only through Jesus are giving the gift of eternal salvation but for the Bible to actually say only few will find it is quite discouraging.

    • Beth

      I see the few as meaning less than the majority of humanity that reject Him, yet there are and have been millions that believe on Him. However there are even millions more who have rejected Him. So the proportion of those accepting will be less (fewer) than those that do not believe and accept His salvation.

  • Praising God, this Thanksgiving Day, for His gracious, generous “narrow” door, gate who is Jesus, the One, the True, the Only way to enter –Salvation. Hallelujah and praise God that there would be A way. All grace! All Him. To God be the Glory. Amen!

  • Dear SRT sisters, I am asking for your prayers for me and my husband. He hasn’t worked in three years due to an accident he had on his last job. There was a year of recovery during which time he became so depressed that he drank all the time. He became so addicted to alcohol that he had to have another year of rehabilitation. He stopped drinking and has been earnestly looking for work since then. He finally got a job from a friends referral. He starts this coming Monday. He is so excited because the job pays more money than he thought he would be able to make and his search is finally over. However, the employer wants to pay him “under the table”. I have tried to explain to him the danger in this. I have encouraged him to talk to the employer to explain that it is not right and that we will have to pay the taxes due. He gets defensive and angry and refuses to discuss it. He tells me that there is nothing else out there for him. I am struggling with this so much. I have been praying constantly for God to provide the perfect job for him and trusting for His provision. But the thing is that our savings are very close to running out and my job does not pay enough to meet our obligations. While I would rather do without and risk everything we have to be in God’s will, my husband doesn’t understand that. He sees this job as a way out for us but I know that it cannot be God’s will for it is dishonest. Today’s lesson really convicts me and makes me feel confirmed in that. Please pray that God will intervene and make this right somehow. I am so grateful for this community of faithful sisters in Christ. I don’t comment often but I want you all to know how much I appreciate your comments and that I learn so much from them. I have grown to love SRT and all of you. Happy Thanksgiving! And thanks for the prayers.

    • Churchmouse

      Praying for you and your husband to be of one accord in this difficult situation – and praying that his employer would suddenly decide to pay him legitimately. God is able!

    • Valerie

      Dear Churchmouse,
      I will be praying for God’s will to be done in your lives. God is in control and he has a plan to bring redemption and peace to all. May you rest in knowing He has this. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Gina

      What a difficult struggle, Elaine! Praying for this situation and for you to have the peace of God even in the midst of this struggle as you cry out to our good, good Father.

    • Karen S

      Praying for you in this difficult time. I completely understand about not being in agreement with your husband when it comes to being paid in cash, no taxes involved. We struggle with the same in our house with one of my part time jobs. Praying you can be reconciled soon in this matter.

    • Wendy Garner

      Praying for you, your husband, his employer, and God’s provision for you. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for sharing your need.

    • truthseeker

      Dear Elaine – I am lifting up you and your husband in prayer to God that He may work on your husbands heart and give him clarity of mind of the sin involved in this situation. I can also relate to your position as in the past my husband had a similar situation. It is difficult in the role of the wife who is to be submissive to her husband and yet we must obey God rather than man. As you know a mans self esteem is linked to his ability to provide for his family so I can understand his desire to take this job. I agree with you that he should speak to his potential employer about this. Even if he has to accept lesser pay in order to be legal it will still be a job. Anything he makes plus your income will help to cover the bills. Plus a legal job at lesser pay will be a transition back into the work environment and he can continue to search for better employment. At one point in my past I had to accept a far lesser position in order to get income coming in but it was a foot in the door and after a year I got a far better position along with pay raises. You are on my prayer list.

    • Heather64

      Praying for you and your husband. Our God is a God of miracles and greatness. He knows our needs before we even ask.
      He will work it out. You only have to be still and ready. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Mari

      Elaine, as I sit here on Thanksgiving day and read your story it’s almost as if I’m reading my own story. Praying that your husband will be able to talk to his boss and make this right. Unfortunately my current life right now is not where I ever imagined to be and had nothing to do with my husband trying to find a job. So I’m praying HARD for you that things will be made right, Happy Thanksgiving dear sister!

    • Lehua K.

      Happy Thanksgiving to you as well – will keep you and your husband in prayer.

  • Very thankful for this series. Happy Thanksgiving sisters!

  • Churchmouse

    Today’s parables’ lessons : Make knowing Jesus my number one priority. Be earnest about it. Be humble. Be on guard – there are false prophets out there. Take note of their fruit. Take note of my own. Remember, not everyone goes to heaven. Don’t be fooled. Don’t be complacent. Be fully His.

  • Debbie Gartland

    happy and blessed Thanksgiving. This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad:)

  • Tricia C

    Happy Thanksgiving! Have a wonderful day Sisters!

  • Elisabeth7291

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the US #SRT sisters! I am thankful for this community!

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