Be Sure, that you’re Sure
Devotion in Motion
“And (Jesus) went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.”
Here is Chapter 17, Luke tells us that someone asks Jesus a question that has perplexed mankind since forever. Who is going to get into heaven. Is it only a few people or is it everybody? Does God grade on a scale or does it depend on how many good things you do while you are alive, does that determine who gets in? Does it have to do with how faithful you are about going to synagogue all the time? This guy asked a practical question but like always Jesus made it personal to this man. He is going to answer him by saying that everyone will have a choice to go to heaven, They will have to choose between this world and him. But what about the pygmies someone might say? What about them? You might say, how can a good God send them to hell if they have never heard the good news of the gospel. Jesus in fact says “Don’t worry about the pygmies, God is just and righteous, worry about yourself. In the end people will be judged for what they knew about Jesus and if they chose or not.
Today the lines of demarcation in our culture are drawn around race, age, gender, and political persuasion – but in the end, there’ll be only two groups in the world – those in Christ and those outside Christ. This means families will be drawn together in Christ, but also torn apart by Christ. It’s ironic the greatest unifier of men is also the greatest source of division.
High in the Canadian Rockies, there’s a stream called “Divide Creek.” A boulder cuts the creek into two forks. The water that flows left rushes into the Kicking Horse River which leads to the Pacific Ocean. Whereas, the waters that flow right of the rock become the Bow River that eventually feeds the Atlantic Ocean. The rock in the middle of Divide Creek determines the destiny of each droplet. Water molecules that start out side by-side are separated, sent in opposite directions, and end up thousands of miles apart. And likewise, folks who grow up side-by-side, in the same house, come to the rock called Christ and get divided.
At first, the separation seems minimal. They still hang out, but the flow of their lives gradually heads in different directions. The current ends up taking them an eternity apart – one to heaven and the other to hell. Jesus, the rock, is the fork in the stream of humanity. The word that Luke uses here in chapter 17 for “narrow” is a translation of the Greek term, “stenos” which means, “compress or constrict.” Stenography or Shorthand is a compressed form of writing. And apparently, the gate to heaven is going to be a constricted entryway, like a turnstile. People will have to enter one at a time. No one gets caught up in the crowd and swept away to heaven.
Each person individually decides to follow Jesus. So, Jesus tells us, “Strive to enter… the narrow gate.” Entrance takes commitment and determination. Nobody floats in on someone else’s coattails. You don’t become a Christian by osmosis. You yearn to enter! And to say “Yes” to Jesus is to say “No” to every other so-called Savior. In John 14:6, Jesus told Thomas and His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” That narrows the options considerably. If you’re going to follow Jesus, you can’t be afraid to take sides.
It reminds me of the judge with the deliberating jury. He instructed the court clerk to take their lunch order. When she returned, he asked if she had any idea how long the deliberations might take. The clerk replied, “A long time.” The judge asked, “How can you be sure?” The clerk said, “Listen to their order. Eleven burgers and one hot dog… eleven coffees and one hot chocolate… eleven fruit pies and one prune danish…” Obviously, there was a nonconformist on the jury. And if you want to get to heaven, you’ve also got to be somewhat of a nonconformist. You can’t be afraid to stick out. The path to heaven is a swim upstream. As Jesus put it, “Strive to enter… the narrow gate.”
Then verse 25 “When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’” Jesus taught in their streets, ate in their homes, but they never opened their hearts to Him. There’s a difference between knowing Jesus and knowing about Him. Be sure you know Him or when you arrive in eternity, you’ll be on the outside looking in. You don’t want to hear, “Depart from Me…” You can cry, “Lord, Lord,” never having made Jesus your Lord!
For Vs 28 “There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.” From the brink of eternity, you’ll see two landscapes. In one direction, there’s forever fire, and unquenchable thirst, and utter darkness – but those are not the severest tortures in the place we call hell. What causes the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” is when you see your friends and family enjoying heaven – blessings you’ll never experience. It’s the permanence of what you’ve lost that drives people nuts in hell. I believe a one-way glass separates heaven and hell. Hell can and will see into heaven, but heaven will only see its reflection. It can’t see the miseries of hell. For Jesus will wipe away every tear from the face of those who chose to know him.
Today we are living in the age of grace, everybody has a choice to strive to make it through the narrow gate or to take the easy way downstream of this world. There are others who will say then I just won’t make a choice but you see, to not make a choice is to have already made a choice against Jesus. “To Strive” in the greek means “to contend for the prize”, it’s not enough to get to heaven, it’s about wanting or desiring the prize that, that becomes the desire of your hearts and not this world. And the prize and that prize is Jesus Christ.
“You see any dead fish can float downstream but it takes a live one to swim upstream”
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