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Sunday, September 10, 2017

posted Sep 10, 2017, 6:51 PM by Site Administrator

 

ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW DOOR

 

Luke 13:10-35

Key Verses 13:23,24

 

First, "What is the kingdom of God like?" (10-21).Look at verse 10. On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues. People may wonder, saying, "When the Son of God came into the world, how did he serve his kingdom work? What was Jesus’ way of serving God’s kingdom?"Verse 10 shows that his method of serving God’s kingdom was to teach the word of God. When we think about this carefully, we are only amazed. There must have been many more fantastic ways to impress people as the Son of God, but his main method was teaching the word of God. Like in today’s passage, sometimes, he taught people the word of God in the synagogue; sometimes, in the open field, sometimes, early in the morning; sometimes, until late night. Why? It was because he knew that it was the word of God that saves people from eternal judgment; it was because by hearing the word of God, people can have eternal life.  

 

While Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, he noticed a woman who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up. Sometimes, we see old men or old women whose back is hunched over terribly; they suffer greatly, but still it is a natural phenomena. But this woman’s case was not natural; it was caused by a spirit, a spirit of infirmity according to KJV. It means that she wasn’t so old. How painful and sorrowful she must have been to have such a deformed body while she was not a senior citizen yet! While her peers were trying hard to look better, or while they enjoy surfing on the Hermosa Beach, she stayed in her dark room, probably cursing herself. She could not hang out with her classmates either. How hard she tried to be healed! She visited many doctors, but none of them could help her. Probably, she prayed a lot, asking God, "Why?" "Why me?" Her body was crooked, and soon, her inner world was crooked too, then, her whole life; her view of life was crooked. In this way, she had spent 18 long years, probably, now accepting it as her fate, giving up on her future. Who could understand her agony? Now, this woman was attending the synagogue worship service – after 18 years’ struggle in this deformed condition, probably, she realized that she had nothing but God. 

 

Look at verse 12. It starts with the phrase, "When Jesus saw her,…" Among all the people in the synagogue, Jesus saw her; Jesus zoomed her in and understood her agony - how she had spent her life in sorrow and darkness, and he wanted to heal her. What a marvelous grace it was that Jesus saw her among so many! Her case was not ignored by God. Then, Jesus called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity!" Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Infirmity is feebleness or weakness. People have infirmity physically, or mentally and thereby, they are dysfunctional. Isaiah shouts, "Surely, he took up our infirmities." Jesus died on the cross to take up our infirmities so that we may not live with this weakness or feebleness; instead, he wants us to be healthy and sound physically and mentally so that we may live a sound life with sound character, with sound perspectives. "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." This is the very declaration Jesus wants to pronounce on us. 

 

When the woman was set free from her 18 years’ long infirmity by Jesus’ grace, the townspeople should have rejoiced together with her and had a great festival to give thanks to Jesus and celebrate her new life. But at this, the synagogue ruler was indignant because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath. He said to the people, "There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath." His point was: "Sabbath is holy. Worship God only on the Sabbath!" He sounded very spiritual. Yet, how did Jesus respond? He said, "You hypocrites! Doesn't each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? 16Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"Yes, indeed, on the Sabbath, you take care of your dogs and cats so that they may feel comfortable and happy. Then, what about setting free this woman, a daughter of Abraham, from her 18 years' suffering? Of course, you would do that. By the way, what do you see here about Jesus' argument? When the synagogue ruler sounded super-spiritual, did Jesus come up with divine theological argument? No. What he said was very plain - it's common sense. Here, we learn that we must not be religious people who say, "On Sundays, worship God only!" always quoting from Bible verses. We don't want Jesus to call us, "You hypocrites!" Instead, as Christians, we must be real people who struggle to love God and serve Him.

 

Look at verses 18 through 21. Let’s read these verses responsively:

 

18Then Jesus asked, "What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? 19It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches." 20Again he asked, "What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? 21It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

 

"What is the kingdom of God like?" This is a good question. What is your answer? When asked, people say, "Yeah, I think in the kingdom of God, angels fly, scenery is beautiful, and food is delicious." Many people think that in the kingdom of God, they will not have to work any longer, but sing and praise God all the time. What they say may be true, but when we think about these answers, we see that their answers are just fantasy – just fancy ideas, not real or practical. What is Jesus’ answer about this question – what is the kingdom of God like? He says that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed or like yeast. What?! The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed or yeast! Wow! What a shocking answer it is!  

 

A mustard seed is tiny, but when it is planted, it grows tall, taller than three story building; it becomes the biggest tree among all the garden plants. A small amount of yeast influences the whole batch of the dough. Jesus is talking about the growth and expansion of the kingdom of God once it is planted in man’s heart. Why did Jesus here suddenly talk about the kingdom of God? Jesus wanted to show people what the real work of God is about. The religious leaders might think that they were serving the kingdom of God by offering gorgeous and authentic worship service in the beautiful temple or synagogues; or they might think that they were expressing the kingdom of God by keeping the Sabbath law wholeheartedly - that kind of religious life. But now Jesus showed them that the kingdom of God is not about such things, but it is very real and dynamic; it starts so small, tiny like this nameless woman experiencing God's grace. The woman experienced Jesus’ grace and God’s kingdom was planted in her – she was praising God; she was happy with God. Right now, the size of the kingdom of God was so tiny – what the kingdom of God could do was to make her happy and her changed life did not mean that much to the world - no one paid attention to her. But since the kingdom of God was planted in her, things would not stay in that way forever; instead, the kingdom of God would grow in her continually, changing her value system, her hope and her life purpose and direction completely; it is like a small amount of yeast influencing the whole batch; in that way, she would be changed into a woman of God, and her life would change completely. Eventually, she would become a great woman of God like a gigantic mustard tree that can provide rest and peace to many hungry and weary birds. She would become a great spiritual leader and her influence would reach to the ends of the earth. The kingdom of God is like that, not like doing all kinds of religious ceremonies or doing many Christian things. With this, Jesus showed them what they must really pursue - not religious life, but real work of God, the kingdom of God. 

 

When the kingdom of God was planted in the hearts of lowly and nameless fishermen in Galilee, all of them grew to be great spiritual leaders for the whole world – they literally changed the course of human history. When Simon Peter gave up his fisherman’s career and followed Jesus, who could imagine that this man would change the whole world? His influence is still going on in the world.


When the woman was set free from her infirmity, the synagogue ruler belittled it, emphasizing the importance of going by the rules. But Jesus showed him what was really important, and what was really going on - the kingdom of God was going on. When she experienced Jesus’ grace and when the kingdom of God was planted in her, Jesus did not see her as an ordinary woman any longer. Jesus had a great hope and vision for her that she would grow up as a gigantic, worldclass spiritual leader. What an amazing hope Jesus had for her who had been suffering from infirmity for 18 long years. The kingdom of God would change her completely. Now, the kingdom of God has been planted in the hearts of our young college students. Right now, at the beginning stage of its growth, often it’s barely enough to give you some joy and happiness, but as the kingdom of God grows in you, you will be changed into wholesome children of God. Then, you can expect that you will be the world class spiritual leaders; you can dream to change the whole world. Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God! Again, we must not be just religious people, doing many Christian things; instead, we must serve the kingdom of God - fishing and teaching students the word of God, praying that the kingdom of God may be planted in them, and powerful spiritual leaders may rise from among young college students.

 

Second, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door" (22-35). Look at verses 22 and 23. Now it was Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem where he would die on the cross as a ransom sacrifice for many. His time was approaching fast. How did he feel at his impending suffering and death? One time, he shared his anguished heart to his disciples saying, "I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!" It was not an easy moment for anyone to go through. But verse 22 says that Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his journey to Jerusalem. Embracing all burdens in his heart, he taught people the word of God in towns and villages. Despite his own burden, he struggled hard to take care of others by teaching them the word of God. While Jesus was working hard to teach the word of God, someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" What a bold question it was! Actually, this is our question. As we have studied Luke's gospel so far, especially these past several weeks, how have you felt about your Christian life or about your salvation? One time, Jesus said, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God." Our question is: Does here "whoever" or "he" include us or not, such people who experienced his grace and have a new life of serving God's kingdom work? Another time, Jesus talked about how they must be dressed ready for service and keep their lamps burning so that at any time he comes back, they may be found as faithful servants. As a conclusion, he said, "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." Again, the question was: Does here, "you" include the disciples also? That was what's going on in the hearts of the disciples. Finally the top disciple Simon Peter could not be silent any longer. So, he asked Jesus, "Lord, are you telling this parable to us or to everyone?" At first, they assumed that they had already secured their entry to the kingdom of God, because they were Jesus' disciples; they took salvation for granted. But as Jesus' teaching went on, they came to sense that having salvation was not so easy; actually, according to Jesus' teaching, it was very difficult. Then, what about their own salvation? Was it secured because they were Jesus' disciples? Or, did they have to work hard for it also, even if they were Jesus' disciples? So many things were going on in their hearts. Finally, one disciple could not hold this sense of uncertainty any longer. He wanted to nail it down, either way. So, he boldly asked Jesus this question, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" As we have studied Luke's gospel so far, I am sure that this has been in your heart also. As the representative of all Christians, the disciple asked this question. 

 

What was Jesus’ answer? Look at verse 24. Let’s read this verse together:

 

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."

 

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door." When you ask Jesus about how to have salvation, this is Jesus' answer. It seems that the way to secure salvation is not easy. No, it is not easy. If anyone wants to have salvation, that person must make every effort to enter through the narrow door. This instruction of Jesus shows that salvation is not the matter of knowing some theology - even though you say, "I believe in Jesus," that words of mouth, or that theological knowledge does not save you; salvation is not the matter of having some Bible knowledge or even attending church worship service regularly either. Rather, this instruction shows that salvation is the matter of seeking it continually, making all possible efforts to enter through the narrow door. Those who believe Jesus and thereby, follow this instruction will have salvation.

 

The expression, "narrow door" suggests that there is no flexibility, no room for compromise, and thereby, you need to make all possible efforts to squeeze yourselves to enter through it. You are already too big for this narrow door, so you maneuver yourself wholeheartedly to somehow go through it; of course, you cannot keep your backpack, so you throw it away; you cannot keep your thick and expensive mink coat or even sweat shirts, so you throw them away; even you have to cut off your beautiful hair; but still you are a little too big, so you fast for ten or twenty days to make yourself slim. Then, finally, after all these struggles, only when you make every effort to enter through it, willing to do anything if necessary,barely you can enter through that narrow door - this is the attitude Jesus asks those who want to have salvation in him - only when they make that kind of desperate and wholehearted effort to enter through the narrow door, they can secure salvation in him. Their struggle of making every effort to enter through the narrow door is the evidence that they value salvation more than anything in the world - if anything becomes a matter either a good looking thing or a bad looking thing, they are willing to get rid of it for the sake of securing salvation - nothing can stop them from seeking salvation - either family or wealth, either pain or luxury, either life or death. Such people enter the kingdom of God in Jesus Christ.

 

Again, what does it mean to enter through the narrow door? It means a very unpopular way of life, a hard way of life. When you feel like saying, "Is this the only way?" that is the narrow door. When you feel like saying, "Do I really have to go this way?" that's the narrow door, requiring you to deny yourself and take up the cross of mission. This is God's way of salvation for us in Jesus Christ. But people make it easy, comfortable and convenient for themselves, so they make the door wide, and the road broad so that they can have Christian life, which is easy and comfortable, without any self-denial or cross-taking.

 

Jesus also tells us the reason why we must make every effort to enter through the narrow door, saying, "Because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to."So, they fail to enter through the narrow door, and thereby, eventually, they fail to secure salvation. By the way, what kind of people are "many" here? They are the ones who struggled to enter through the narrow door for salvation - so they are not unbelievers, not agnostics, or atheists. They believe in Jesus, accepting his teaching, and thereby, trying to enter through the narrow door, making a lot of efforts, but eventually failing to enter it only because they do not make every effort, but just some effort. After trying to enter through the narrow door to some extent, they choose to keep their backpacks, or their expensive coat, which they love so much, and thereby, eventually, choose to enter through the wide door with all the things they have desired and valued. Jesus says that many people will be like that - desiring to have salvation, and even making some efforts, but eventually choosing to secure what they have valued such as money or luxury or pleasures or their own dreams and desires in this life. Many people will fail to enter the kingdom of God even though they try, because they do not make every effort to enter through the narrow door. When many people live this kind of life, we should not be deceived by their way of life - in their Christian life, there is no pains or sorrows of true self-denial or cross-taking; instead, it seems that they enjoy all things they desire in this world and life - girlfriend, boyfriend, pursuing their own desires and dreams in this life freely while calling themselves as Christians. Instead, we must make every effort to enter through the narrow door no matter what so that we can secure our own salvation. As I have served God's work, I have realized one thing: Eventually, people get what they desire. About this, the Bible declares in Galatians 6:7-8, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life."  

 

Look at verses 25 through 27. HereJesus shows us how things will go when his kingdom comes. These people expected that they would be welcomed into the kingdom of God. But they were not; no angel was waiting for them, and the door was closed. So they stood outside knocking and pleading, "Sir, open the door for us." Then, the master answered them, "I don’t know you or where you come from." Then, they said, "We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets." But the owner replied, "I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!" So they were rejected to enter the kingdom of God.

 

What’s their problem? Their problem is that they have not made every effort, but some effort, and after making some effort, they assumed everything. See what they said – We ate and drank with you, and you taught us in our streets. Eating and drinking together is an expression of having fellowship. They thought that they had fellowship with the master of the house, Jesus - maybe, they professed their faith in Jesus, or they attended worship service; also they had a lot of Bible knowledge. Because of these, they assumed that they knew Jesus and that they would be welcomed into the kingdom of God. But they didn't know the master; they didn't know what the master really desired. Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22  Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23  Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" Who will enter the kingdom of heaven? Jesus specifically mentions about this, saying, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,'... but only he who does the will of my Father." Only those who live according to God's will and purpose upon their life will enter the kingdom of heaven. God makes his specific will for each person clear through his personal calling. Then, some people accept God's will and obey him by making all possible efforts to live according to God's will and fulfill it. But others reject God's will upon their life, saying, "I don't know. I am not sure about it," or conveniently excuse themselves, saying, "I go to church." How is it to live according to God's will and purpose? It is not easy, because his way is higher than our ways, and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts. In order to live according to his will and purpose, we have to deny our own desires and dreams; often, we have to let go of things we desire and we must take up the cross of mission daily. Sometimes, we feel lonely. Sometimes, we are sad because our beloved family members don't understand us. Sometimes, we have heartache because we let go of a dream job offer. Such people show what they really desire - God over all other things - these people come to heaven and form a kingdom, the kingdom of God. Prophesying in Jesus' name does not make you real followers of Jesus Christ; performing many miracles in Jesus' name does not make you real Christians. But doing the will of the Father who is in heaven makes you real Christians. What is God's will upon your life? It is to take care of God's flock on college campuses. We don't struggle to do all kinds of good things; instead, we make every effort to serve college students with the word of God. How does Jesus describe God in Matthew? He describes as our Father who is "in heaven." How will you respond if God the Father is right next to you and tells you what to do? Of course, you will do it. But God the Father is not on earth, but He is in heaven. Even if you don't do what He wants you to do, He does not rebuke you or correct you. He does not like micromanagement. Then, how will you respond to His will? So, we see that those who do the will of the Father who is in heaven are those who make every effort to do God's will all on their own, willing to taste losses, willing to let go of all their dreams and desires on their own, swallowing all related sorrows and pains on their own, all for God's sake. They are the ones who truly love God and honor God. Such people enter the kingdom of God. Such people are real disciples of Jesus. Living according to God's will and purpose upon your life despite all challenges, pains and sorrows shows what you really desire - God; that makes you real disciples of Jesus Christ who loved God and served Him only.

 

Look at verse 28. "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." At the gate of heaven, they are rejected, and thrown into darkness! At that time, many people will be full of regret, gnashing of teeth, crying, "Why didn’t I listen to my Bible teacher? Why didn’t I repent? Now I am doomed!" Or they will be angry at each other, saying, "I was living as a disciple very well. But you tempted me; because of you, I am doomed." I pray that none of us here may share their terrible fate. So what should we do? Make every effort to enter through the narrow door! 

 

Look at verse 29. Let’s read this verse together:

 

29People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 

 

The original question was, "Are only a few people going to be saved?" Now, what is Jesus’ answer? No, many people will be saved from the four corners of the earth. From China, from India, from Mongolia, from Russia, from Korea, from America, from every country in the world, many people will come and seat with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. All of them without any exception have entered through the narrow door, willing to do anything for it, valuing God's kingdom above all other things; with that kind of attitude, they haveserved their Lord Jesus with all their hearts and strength, and after completing their mission on earth, they will be gathered together in the kingdom of God. They are the ones who followed Jesus wholeheartedly, denying themselves and taking up the cross of mission daily. They are completely dedicated to Jesus. Such people are not deceptive; they do not plan evil in their hearts; they are just and righteous like King David. Jesus completes his kingdom, the kingdom of God with such people. Then, in his kingdom, no need to worry about rebellion like 1/3 of angels rebelling against God in the beginning, or like Adam and Eve disobeying God's command. With these people filling the kingdom of God, God's redemption plan is completed. Then, God closes the first phase of his creation, and with these people, He starts the new phase of his creation, making everything new - new heaven and new earth. Blessed are those who participate in the new world. Don't you want to be a part of this new world? Then, in this life, make every effort to enter through the narrow door; make every effort to do the will of your Father who is in heaven.

 

Now when they come to his kingdom, God will throw a huge feast for them, and they will take their places in the feast. There will be seats with name tags, "Johnny Pringle,""Roberto Flores," and the angels will escort you to your seats. It will be such a happy moment for all those who entered the kingdom of God. 

 

It seems that there are only few people who are really dedicated to God; it seems that the majority of Christians we see are just nominal Christians - no real commitment to God, no real life of serving God. So, usually, people think that there are only a small number of real Christians. But, that's true only around us here in America; there are so many real Christians worldwide who make every effort to enter through the narrow door, who dedicate themselves to God's calling completely, willing to sacrifice their life for God's kingdom work freely - we will see them at the feast in the kingdom of heaven. So, don't be discouraged; don't envy those Sunday Christians who just enjoy Christian culture without losing anything. Never compare yourself to them - they are not your role model. Instead, be zealous for God all the more. Worldwide, all your brothers and sisters are struggling hard to enter through the narrow door.

 

Look at verse 31. At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, "Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you." It seemed that they were concerned about Jesus’ safety. But actually, they were the instruments of Satan trying to plant fear in Jesus’ heart so that Jesus would not preach any more in that place. What was Jesus’ response? Look at verses 32 and 33. Let’s read these verses together:

 

32He replied, "Go tell that fox, 'I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.' 33In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day-- for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

 

Despite all dangers and threats, Jesus’ decision was utmost clear – In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day. As we strive to serve God’s kingdom work, we face many challenging moments. Sometimes, we lack time even to do our homework. Sometimes, we have financial crisis. Sometimes, we have persecution from our parents. So should we withdraw because of such difficulties and dangers? No way! No matter what, even if we lose our life, still we must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day. God’s servants do not die until God’s mission upon their life is over. 

 

Jesus says, "for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!" Usually, we think that it was the enemies like murderers and robbers who killed God’s prophets. But that’s not true. It is really shocking to notice that it was the people of Jerusalem, God believing people who killed God’s servants. Other people, when they saw God’s servants preaching the word of God to them, honored and respected them highly as servants of God. But the people of Jerusalem did not take their message very seriously; eventually, they rejected their messages and killed them, because they thought that they already knew God and did not need to be taught by others. They assumed that they were already okay.

 

Look at verses 34 and 35. Let’s read these verses together:

 

34"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"

 

As Jesus thought about the rejection of the people of Jerusalem and about what terrible things were going to happen to them as the result of their disobedience and unwillingness to turn to God, he was so sorrowful and his heart was stirred. He cried out, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,…Look, your house is left to you desolate…"

 

Today, we are here to hear God’s message. Let’s not harden our hearts, saying, "I am already saved." Instead, let’s make every effort to enter through the narrow door with complete humility and submission to God’s will. Then, we will see God’s smiling face on that day.

 

One Word:Make Every Effort To Enter Through The Narrow Door 

 

 

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