September 22-28, 2014
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
The way of Christianity or Christ-likeness is both easy and hard. Jesus expressed both views: “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:30), and “If anyone would come after Me, He must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24).
On the one hand, the way to peace with God is like wearing an easy yoke and bearing a light burden because Jesus Christ carried the load –the whole load of our sins and their just deserts. We contribute nothing, nada, to the righteousness Christ earned for us to grant us the forgiveness of our sins and the inheritance of eternal life. This, and let me be quick to add, is not to say that grace is a cheap thing and that we’re going to heaven on a free ride.
Our peace with God -our reconciliation with the Father cost Jesus His life, His innocent life for our sake: “Christ died once for all” (Hebrews 7:27). And, my friends, it cost us our life too as the Apostle Paul reminds us saying: “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11) and “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
But as long as we have this mortal life in this time and place, we will face trial and temptation to find an easier way to enjoy living now with the hope of life that knows no end later. We might seek the way that is broad and open, entering through wide gates that pose no restriction for us. We might, like the rich fool, live for the day, relax, eat, drink, and be merry (Luke 12:16-21). But is that the way for us? Many a soul is traveling down the easy road, the low road that leads to destruction.
As followers of Christ, entering into life through the “narrow gate” means taking up our “cross” or crosses in this life while daily resisting Satan whose way leads to death and destruction. To live in Christ Jesus and under Him in His kingdom and to serve Him will mean our faith will be put to the test; the way may be rugged, tried and tested again and again to order to keep our eyes on Jesus and focused on His righteousness as the way, the truth, and the life for us. And because this is the only way that leads to life, we must never become discouraged or anxious about our life in the here and now even if that means we must suffer too, walk the hard road, endure pain and sorrow, and even our mortal death -for this is our way, living in an imperfect world that rejected Christ and put Him on the cross for our redemption, for our sake, for the forgiveness of sin, and the promise of eternal life.
Dear friend in Christ, look to the cross of Jesus for your hope during these days and for your joy that will know no end. Follow in the way that Your Savior leads, walking in His way tho’ the journey is rugged and steeped in sadness. For the way of Christianity is both easy and hard. And, the Way provides us with a glorious view: the cross emptied of its victim; the grave too is vacant of death for He is risen. He is risen indeed. And we cannot but admire the grandeur of our risen Lord and Savior, who is taking us on the high road that leads to life.
At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:25-30 (ESV)