“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.” (Luke 13:24-28 NASB)
We quote that it is by grace we are saved, not works. And this is true, and extremely important. Yet the Apostle Paul was very clear about how hard he worked for his salvation (see Philippians 3). He knew he was saved, that he couldn’t trade his salvation even for his own people, and he knew that he was loved and excepted by Jesus. But he worked in the Kingdom of God as if he wasn’t. He worked, as it were, for his salvation.
Jesus says here to “strive to enter”; to work hard, get sweaty. He’s talking about the Kingdom of God, and He says many will seek to enter, in the future, not necessarily now. But then, in the future it will be too late. The door will be shut, and the master of the house (I’m thinking God) will not recognize their origin, where they are from. The thing they think gets them in, their origin, will not be recognized. There will be those who thought that because Jesus taught in their streets, and because they ate with Him, they should be obvious shoe-in’s for the Kingdom, yet are shut out.
The key here, which is different than the key in the parallel in Matthew 7, is that the narrow door is found through striving. But the what keeps those outside on the outside is that they did not really know Jesus. He taught in their streets, they ate with Him, but didn’t know Him. They figured it was enough that they hang out with Him from time to time, but it wasn’t. He refused to recognize where they were from, and even calls them those who work unrighteousness (perform deeds contrary to righteousness or outside a relationship with God). This should shake us up. It scare the willies out me.
The Kingdom of God is found through striving to enter the narrow door. It may not be popular right now, but it will be; after it’s too late. Having heard the gospel isn’t enough. Having shared a meal with Jesus isn’t enough. The question plaguing me is how hard am I striving for that narrow door? Does my life look like Paul’s? Do I push on for the upward call of Christ? Or am I mired in the things of this world? Do I get so distracted by work, family, and even “church” that my relationship with my Master becomes another set of tasks? I ate with Him, check that off. I heard a sermon, check that off. I did whatever, check that off. What have I done to get into His presence? And having been in His presence, what distracted me, and how hard am I trying to get back there?
Yes, my relationship with my family is important. My relationship with my wife is primary among all my other human relationships I have on earth. And I do need to characterize Jesus as I relate to others. But don’t I also in doing so have to do as He did in those relationships? Jesus wasn’t “nice” to everyone. He wasn’t, and it doesn’t take much study to see that. Jesus didn’t try to please everyone, didn’t accommodate His preaching to everyone, didn’t tell some to repent but not others lest He offend them. He said, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” In other words, “Change your mind to agree with God’s mind because His authority over all things is coming.” The truth is that a day is coming when the narrow door will be shut. Those inside the door will be the ones who strove to please their Maker. Don’t my neighbors need to know that?
I see a scary passage here. What do you see?