The way of holiness is narrow

The path less traveled holds the greatest reward.

The path less traveled holds the greatest reward.

Matthew 7:13-14 – “Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

In reviewing the overarching themes of Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount, many of the concepts overlap with one another and can be classified under several headings. This passage about the broad way and the narrow gate is one of those concepts.

I have typically placed this passage under the heading of vigilance, as one of the most outstanding features of this illustration is how difficult the entrance to the narrow gate is, and how persistent one must be to enter in that way. However, it is not only difficult, but narrow. This narrowness suggests a setting apart, a holiness, of those who seek to follow this way.

The Greek word used for narrow is only used in this one illustration of the way of life being a narrow door or gate. The secondary passage is a similar illustration Yeshua uses in the gospel of Luke.

Luke 13:23-25 – “Lord,” someone asked him, “are only a few people going to be saved? ” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because I tell you, many will try to enter and won’t be able once the homeowner gets up and shuts the door. Then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up for us!’ He will answer you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from.’

Again, Yeshua relates to his hearers how the way is not only difficult (by saying it would be necessary to make every effort), but that it would also be a narrow door. To my way of thinking, this confirms that the way of holiness or being set apart will be evident only in those few (contrasted with the many) who would persist in seeking the things of God, i.e., the narrow way.

What interests me about connecting these two passages in this way with this similar illustration is that the Luke passage is contextually about Yeshua warning that generation that the time (in his day) was short. When judgment was to fall (in the destruction of Jerusalem forty years hence), the door to being rescued from that judgment would be shut. Those of that generation who had rejected the message and teaching of Messiah, seeing that, when it came to pass, Yeshua’s prediction was correct, would suffer the ruin and loss of all that they had believed in. Most of them would lose their lives in the destruction of the city.

In the Mark passage, Yeshua says the broad way that most would travel leads to destruction, meaning ruin or loss. Connecting these two passages in this way highlights the meaning of those who would follow the narrow way would be the holy or set apart remnant, those of Israel who did recognize Yeshua as the Messiah and who diligently and faithfully strove to enter at the narrow gate.

The good news is that this teaching still rings true in the more universal fashion in which it is typically viewed: that most people in the world continue on a wide path to ruin and loss due to their own oblivious lifestyles, while those who are diligently seeking out the things of God end up setting themselves apart by maintaining their focus and journey on the narrow path of holiness and faithfulness to God. This is who we are today, those of us who continue to place our faith in the Messiah. Through our vigilant and persistent following of him, through the narrow gate of Messiah, we have access to the place of safety and fellowship with God.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

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