The Narrow Way
“strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” -Matt 7:14
What is this way that is narrow and gate that is straight in Matthew 7:12-14? In our American culture we may use a common phrase, “the straight and narrow”, in reference to moral integrity. However, as we investigate the contents of Jesus’ sermon we must recognize that He has not laid out a path of moral integrity that we are meant to follow in order to gain eternal life and avoid destruction. So then, if the narrow way isn’t meant to be understood as moral integrity then how should we understand it? Jesus is referring to Himself being the narrow way and straight gate. Jesus claims to be the exclusive pathway to eternal life.
The True Prophet
“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” -Matt 7:20
Jesus warns us of false prophets and therefore claims for Himself the position of a true prophet. We are admonished to examine the words and deeds of self proclaimed prophets of God in Matthew 7:15-20. Jesus’ exhortation to inspect the claims of a prophet are given for at least two reasons. First, Jesus give good criteria to discover a false prophet so that we may be spared from his deception that inevitably leads to destruction in hell. Second, Jesus’ criteria for examining a prophet would lead us to recognize that He is unlike every prophet to every come before Him. His criteria, rightly employed would lead us to the truth that Jesus is God incarnate.
The Divine Judge
“Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” -Matt 7:21
Jesus depicts Himself as the ultimate and final judge of all humanity in Matthew 7:21-23. One by one people will stand before Jesus, the eschatological judge, and He will either grant entrance into His Kingdom or He will banish into everlasting fire (Matt 25:41). Martyn Lloyd-Jones says in his ‘Studies in the Sermon on the Mount’, “These, surely, are in many ways the most solemn and solemnizing words ever uttered in this world, not only by any man, but even by the Son of God Himself.” Consider the gravity of the situation that Jesus describes. The one who is commanded to depart from Jesus, into everlasting fire, is not an atheist, agnostic, or some moral monster. Jesus says He will stand in judgement and people will say to Him, “Lord, Lord” because they were religious people who knew His name and knew something about who He was. Their condemnation is seen to be connected to the fact that they were never in true relationship to Jesus. In all their religiosity, they were not united to Christ and therefore are lost forever. Jesus’ claim here is nearly impossible to misconstrue, He clearly means to claim for Himself the divine nature.
The Rock That Saves
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” -Matt 7:25
Jesus’ last analogy in His sermon (Matt 7:24-27) has been the inspiration of many christian song lyrics. It is interesting to note that the Psalter uses the analogy of a rock to depict God in several places (Psalm 18, 28, 31, 42, 62, 71, 78, 89, 92, 94,and 95). One of my favorite children’s songs is simply entitled “The Wise Man Built” has fun hand motions to go along with it, but the message of the song gives no definitive understanding of the “rock”. The song seems to focus, as many bible interpreters of Matt 7:24-27 do, on the idea of being wise. This again, misses Jesus’ point. The point of the analogy is that Jesus is the rock. The wise man is the person who hears Jesus’ words and rests upon Him. The wise man dwells upon Christ. Jesus is the divine rock, sung about throughout the Psalms, that saves.
In Conclusion: Christ’s Value
From start to finish, the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ has been pointing to Jesus’ worth. Who is Jesus? Jesus is God, the divine rock, the divine judge, the divine prophet, and the divine way. Jesus is the divine heart inspector, the divine law interpreter, the divine righteous man, and the divine fulfillment of all scripture. Jesus is the divine benefactor and the divine teacher. You see, Jesus is the ultimate treasure He speaks of in Matt 6:19-24.
It would be impossible to over value Jesus, but He is often undervalued. He isn’t only undervalued by the non-religious, the idolater, or the nominally religious Christian. Jesus is often undervalued by us who love Him. How might we be undervaluing Jesus?
If we find in ourselves holding Jesus to be highly valuable, but also in similar comparison to something else we also esteem as highly valuable, we have become divided. Augustine was right, “Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all” because he echos Jesus’ words. The mortal danger the divided heart finds itself in is idolatry. “No man can serve two masters” Jesus says. You and I cannot serve God and something alongside Him. He is either valued above all or He is not valued at all, because something else has taken His rightful place of preeminence. God is not first among equals. God is alone, in a category al by Himself.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” -Exodus 20:3