“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has been heading toward the appeal found in these two verse. Here is His call to people to make a decision about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation.
Every person eventually comes to this crossroads in life, where he’ll need to decide on which gate to enter and which way to follow. “Enter” is in a mood that demands a definite and specific action.
Jesus pleads for people to enter the narrow gate, God’s gate, the only gate that leads to life and to heaven. Throughout the sermon Jesus had contrasted the narrowness of God’s internal standard of righteousness to the broad and external standards of Jewish tradition.
The path to that narrow way of kingdom living is through the narrow gate of the King Himself: “I am the way and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). We proclaim a narrow gospel because that’s the only gospel God has given and therefore the only Gospel there is. Make sure you are proclaiming to others the narrow gospel God has given us.
Entering through the narrow gate makes a few demands on the person passing through. First, he must enter alone. You can bring no one else and nothing else with you. Some have suggested that the gate is like a turnstile only one person can get through at a time, and with no baggage.
The narrow gate also demands we must go through naked. This is a gate of self-denial—you can’t carry the baggage of sin and self-will. The way of Christ is the way of the cross, and the way of the cross is self-denial: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever wishes to save his life his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:24-25).
The narrow gate also demands repentance. Many Jews believed that merely being a Jew, a physical descendant of Abraham, was sufficient for entrance into heaven. Many people today believe that being in a church, or even being a good human being, qualifies them.
But the way of repentance, of turning fro their own way and their own righteousness to God’s, is the only way to enter His kingdom and therefore the only way to keep from perishing.