Day 18

The Narrow Way

from the Luke reading plan


Luke 13:1-35, Deuteronomy 32:10-14, Psalm 137:1-9

BY Guest Writer

In Andrew Peterson’s beloved Christmas album Behold the Lamb of God, he sings the song, “Deliver Us,” based on Jesus’s lament for Jerusalem in Luke chapter 13. He sings, hauntingly,

Jerusalem, Jerusalem
How often I have longed
To gather you beneath my gentle wings.

Even typing these words brings tears to my eyes. Peterson captures, in a way that only master songwriters can, the ache of the ages. The song ends with those lines, an answer to the previous verses that are sung from the perspective of God’s wandering people:

Our sins they are more numerous than all the lambs we slay
Our shackles they were made with our own hands

Jesus’s lament summarizes the history of God’s stiff-necked people. Jerusalem—used here both literally, in reference to the city, and also as a metaphor for God’s people throughout time—had a history of turning away from God and abandoning the prophets, judges, and even the Messiah God had sent to them. Even earlier in this chapter, we see a specific example of the Pharisees questioning Jesus’s miracles. The crowds believed, but the leaders rejected Him.

Despite the innumerable sins of His people and their continuing self-imprisonment due to their own choices, Jesus weeps over the city and the people He came to save (Luke 19:41). God longs to gather His children, to protect them, to gather them under His wings (Psalm 91:4). Jerusalem is His greatest joy (Psalm 137:6), the people He will go to the greatest lengths to save. It is the promise of the whole of Scripture.

Jesus stands outside of the city where He will die, and His lament is not for His death. His lament is for the people He longs to save. He has just finished warning them, telling them that by not believing Him they will not join Him in the kingdom of God. But His lament shows us that He does not make these proclamations about the narrow way out of anger, but out of grief.

“How often I wanted to gather your children together…
but you were not willing!” (v.34).

Even in His lament over the past and current rejection of His people, Jesus knew He would be rejected yet again in Jerusalem. But the steadfast, faithful, persistent love of the Father through the ages, embodied in the person of Christ, never fails. Love would carry Jesus all the way to the cross, into the dark tomb, and ultimately, into the glorious resurrection—where He invites us to join Him, forever.

Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.

Post Comments (44)

44 thoughts on "The Narrow Way"

  1. Christina Mendez says:

    Please pray for me. I am having an ultrasound done on my kidneys & abdomen next week due to some abnormal test results. I’m feeling nervous but also trying to remember like the the Psalm says that He will encircle me & that He would keep me as the apple of His eye.

  2. Jennifer McElhannon says:

    My husband and I have read this scripture many of times about the path being narrow to enter His kingdom. We both lean to it meaning more than just being applicable to the people of Jerusalem then. I actually shared this with him and he is angry at what the writer has said, feeling as if she is leading them astray from what the word of God is truly saying and gleaning her own understanding.

    This verse should be applied to the broadest scale possible. Many will knock, this is true. The path to Christ is narrow. When I saw the header of this devotional, I was excited and hopeful that the writer would be stressing the importance of following a life where they aren’t practicing lawlessness and are fully devoted to Christ. Instead, I find some watered down message that says we are invited to join God forever so long as we accept Him into our hearts. We have to be PRACTICING our faith. We must be steadfast. That is why the way to Christ is so narrow.

    1. Zoe Gajownik says:

      I suggest you read Ephesians 2:8 … for it is by grace we are saved, through faith. Not through works so no one can boast. And Romans 11:6 … and if it is by grace, then it is no longer by works. Otherwise, grace ceases to be grace.

      It is the GRACE that gets us in. Not what we do. I hope this helps.

  3. Natalia Phillips says:

    The parable of the fig tree is heart wrenching, yet a beautiful depiction of why Jesus die for us…so that grace an mercy would be renewed daily.

    While we continue to fail God by not walking in the purpose He has established for our lives and/or using the gifts that He freely given to us, we are likened to the fig tree that bears no fruit.
    How much longer will Jesus continue to stand in the gap pleading for more time for us to get it together? Leave her alone, let me continue to fertilize the soil, and if she truly won’t bear fruit cut her down.

    My prayer is that as we continue to seek the face of God that we do so wholeheartedly. May we continue to “strive to enter through the narrow door,” entering empty having used all of the gifts and talents that we have been blessed with.

  4. Jessica says:

    Elaine, I think it means that people will try to enter heaven after Jesus has returned. They will say they knew him (on earth) but they didn’t have a real relationship with him or commit to follow him while alive in earth.

  5. Elaine Adams says:

    I have to admit I’m a little confused. Just a few days ago we were reading about how to pray, “ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” But here I read “many will try to enter wont be able to…you will knock on the door, saying, “lord, open up for us!” He will answer you “I don’t know you or where you are from.” Does anynody have any insight to this seeming paradox?

    1. Summer Chavez says:

      I think the first part has to do with persistence in prayer. The second part I think has to do with a genuine relationship with God, not just in name, but true integrity.

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