None of us like to think about hell. And none of us like the idea that anyone is going to hell. We’d like to think that everyone (or almost everyone) will go to heaven someday.
Perhaps that’s the feeling this person had when he came up to Jesus and asked,
Lord, are only a few people going to be saved? (23)
Perhaps as he asked this, he was thinking, “Can’t it be easier? Can’t we let more people into the kingdom of heaven?”
Let’s think about the context of the situation for a moment. The person asking this was a Jew. In asking this, I don’t think he had any thought in his mind that the Gentiles could be saved.
Rather, as a Jew, he was thinking about how tough it would be for him to be saved. After all, if you looked at the “religious people” of the day, you had to be thinking of people like the Pharisees, people who studied the law, and tried to keep every rule both God-made and man-made.
And as he looked at the Pharisees and other religious folk, he must have been thinking, “This is impossible. I can’t possibly live like the Pharisees. And Jesus once said that our righteousness has to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees!”
But Jesus doesn’t salve his worries. Instead, he said,
Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (24)
In short, “Yes, only a few people will be saved.”
He then warns,
Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ (25)
In other words, we only have a limited time in which to enter the narrow door, that is, we only have our lifetime here on earth. If we die before entering, it is too late.
What is the door? Jesus answered that in the book of John. He said,
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. (John 10:9)
Only through a relationship with Jesus, by believing in his work on the cross, and putting our faith in him will we be saved.
Jesus warned the Jews,
There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last. (28-30)
Many Jews thought that just by being a Jew they would be saved. Others thought by keeping the law they would be saved. But Jesus warned that while others who would receive him as Savior would enter the kingdom, many Jews would be left outside because they rejected him. They thought they would be first in the kingdom. But they would be left out entirely.
Many people today feel the same way as the Jews. They feel like because they were born in a Christian family, they are Christians. Or by going to church and doing a lot of good things, that makes them a Christian.
But those things are not enough. Jesus is the gate, and only by him can you be saved.
Won’t you enter before it’s too late?