Read Luke 13:22-35.
As Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, He was confronted with a question: "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" (v. 23). It was a poignant question. Of course, Jesus did not tell him this many or that many will be saved. Instead, He urged the man to "make every effort to enter through the narrow door" (v. 24).
Only those who have surrendered their sins and been washed by the blood of the Lamb will be saved.
The narrow door is none other than the blood of Jesus Christ (see Romans 5:9). Only those who have surrendered their sins and been washed by the blood of the Lamb will be saved. Jesus' original hearers thought that by virtue of their birth, their ethnicity, their physical descent from the line of Abraham, that they were a shoo-in for heaven, and Jesus disabuses them of this belief. They thought the Messiah would deliver Israel from Rome and that the Greeks, Romans, and godless pagans would all be condemned. But Jesus' teaching challenges their expectations. Race doesn't matter. National identity doesn't matter. Religious traditions don't matter. The only thing that matters is how we respond to the shed blood of Jesus.
But what about this command to "make every effort" (Luke 13:24)? Is Jesus preaching good works as though we must strive to enter heaven through our own efforts? Far from it. In fact, He's saying the very act of humble repentance before God, of self-denial, is a clear indication of salvation. We must resist the urge to bring something to God as a means of trying to earn our salvation. We must say with John the Baptist, "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).
The Pharisees kept all the external trappings of the religion, all the religious rituals, but they were heading for hell, while repentant prostitutes, robbers, and criminals, when they turned from their sins, were assured of a place kept in heaven for them. It's mindboggling. Likewise, there will be many who did good works, many who observed religious traditions, and many who called themselves Christians in this life. But apart from the blood of Christ, they will be lost. The Lord will say, "I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!" (Luke 13:27). Far from focusing on His hearers' dreams or ambitions for this life, as many preachers do today, Jesus called people to have an eternal perspective. He called them to pay attention to the reality of hell and escape it through the narrow door—through Himself.
Prayer: Jesus, You are the door—the only way, Truth, and life. I trust in You and recognize that I bring nothing to earn salvation. You alone are my righteousness. May I become more like You with each passing day. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to" (Luke 13:24).
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