Entering the Kingdom
Open Your Bible
Matthew 7:7-29, Psalm 16:7-11, Matthew 13:24-30, Matthew 13:36-43, Matthew 22:1-14
Jesus describes what it means to enter the kingdom.
I adore the poetry of Robert Frost. I love his embedded New Englandism, as steady as its granite mountains, and his command of simple syntax. Perhaps his most famous poem is known for a line you’ll likely recognize, one that conjures the image of two roads diverging in a yellow wood. “The Road Not Taken” ends with this stanza:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This poem has been oft debated and never settled, and despite its cultural fame, only Frost knows what his original intent was. Its open-endedness is one of the gifts of poetry, one that offers acres for our minds to wander without much of a map. But the poem’s imagery of “two roads” can help lead us into today’s readings by envisioning a stark choice. These passages include several teachings of Jesus that, in essence, pose the questions: “Will you follow me? Which road will you take: the narrow, or the wide?” (Matthew 7:13).
There are theological tomes written about each of these stories: the “ask, seek, knock” passage, the two foundations of sand and rock, the parables of the wheat and weeds and of the wedding banquet. There are certainly more nuances and jewels buried in these stories than I may ever have time to learn in this life. But the driving beat in each song is the question of whether we will choose to follow Jesus.
“Will you come to church?” and “Will you be a good person?” are not the questions being asked. It’s much starker and harder than that: Will you follow Jesus in His kingdom? And will your life be fundamentally changed, bearing good kingdom fruit?
These stories offer us a warning and an invitation to take the narrow path toward Jesus, though it won’t be easy. It will cost us a lot in this world: comfort, pleasure, wealth, self-sufficiency, and myriad other things. And our choice, as Jesus says repeatedly, is not a verbal one. It will show in our actions, of how we love others the way He loves them.
But the good news is that when we follow Jesus on the narrow path, we do not walk alone. The Holy Spirit will be our guide, sealing and securing our place in the kingdom. God’s Word will be “a lamp for [our] feet and a light on [our] path” (Psalm 119:105). And the hardest work, opening the door to the kingdom, has already been accomplished by Jesus. He forged a path to God when it was overgrown with sin; all we have to do is follow Him down the path He has revealed to us. A path where in His presence there is abundant joy, and at His right hand are eternal pleasures (Psalm 16:11).