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Entering Through the Narrow Door (Luke 13:22-35)

Luke 13:22–35 - 22 And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’ 26 “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; 27 and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ 28 “In that place 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, but yourselves being thrown out. 29 “And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. 30 “And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.” 31 Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.” 32 And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’ 33 “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem. 34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it! 35 “Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ” What does today’s passage say? In today’s passage, when asked if only a few will be saved, Jesus urges people to enter the narrow door to life because many will try and fail (vv. 22-24). He warns that mere association with Him and hearing His teaching does not guarantee salvation. Only those who repent and in genuine faith that leads to obedience will enter His kingdom (vv. 25-30). Though Herod threatens Him, Jesus is determined to finish God's work before dying in Jerusalem (vv. 31-33). He then grieves over Jerusalem for rejecting God’s messengers, longing to shelter them like a mother hen if only they would turn to Him (vv. 34-35). How can I apply Luke 13:22-35 to my life? This sobering passage from Jesus delivers an urgent wake-up call to examine if our faith is sincere enough to pass through the narrow door of salvation. Christ makes unambiguous claims of complete allegiance for those entering His spiritual Kingdom that demand we reflect carefully. Nominal belief or religious heritage provides no assurance of eternal life if not accompanied by repentance shown in obedient action. At the same time, Jesus grieves and intercedes even for resistant souls bent on rejecting truth. His pattern of bold teaching balanced with compassion is one we must emulate in contending for the faith while hoping unbelievers have a change of heart. As modern-day disciples, we desperately need to take Jesus’ words here personally. It is tempting to coast in complacency about our relationship with God, presuming our standing based on background or good deeds. But salvation hinges on truly surrendering every area of our lives to the lordship of Christ in a continuous walk of faith and obedience, refusing to compartmentalize Him. We also must guard against self-righteousness when engaging skeptics, praying earnestly for their redemption while speaking difficult truth. These principles have everyday relevance for standing strong in our convictions without compromising Christlike mercy. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. Religious Tradition Is a Wide Door to Hell, not a Path to Salvation (vv. 22-23): Jesus makes it clear that identifying with God's people does not automatically grant access to eternal life. Many who assume their religious heritage or church background saves them will be tragically mistaken. Salvation requires a personal, obedient faith in Christ. Simply going through spiritual motions without sincerely surrendering your life to Him leads only to condemnation, regardless of your pedigree. What matters most is the condition of your heart and whether you truly know and follow Jesus. The door that leads to destruction is wide and accommodating because it demands nothing. It allows you to feel spiritual without pursuing holiness. But the narrow gate of salvation requires repentance, humility, and persistent obedience, fueled by God's grace. It calls you to die to self-rule and live fully for God’s glory. There is no easy path. We must fight to maintain an intimate walk with Jesus amid life's distractions and demands, staying faithful to the end. But the reward for staying on the hard road is infinitely greater than the illusion of comfort from going with the crowd. Ask God to guard your heart from self-deception about your spiritual state. Examine if your life shows genuine fruit of following Jesus above all else (Matthew 7:13-23, Luke 14:25-33, 1 Corinthians 10:1-12).

Food for thought: Do you tend to assume you are saved because of your family or church background more than personal faith? What fruit reveals who or what you are truly loyal to?

  1. Only Those Who Respond to Jesus’ Invitation in Time Will Enter the Kingdom of Heaven (vv. 24-30): Jesus underscores the urgency of pursuing salvation without delay, before the door of opportunity closes. Many who want access to God’s kingdom when it is too late will be left outside, shut off from His presence forever. Tragically, procrastination and presumption keep countless souls from sincerely responding to Christ’s invitation while there is still time. Meanwhile, those despised as unbelievers in this life will be welcomed into eternity with God if they repented before death. Every new day is a chance to go through the narrow gate that leads to eternal life. But that gate will not stay open indefinitely. We are foolish if we bank on a deathbed conversion that may never come rather than surrendering fully to Jesus now. Tomorrow is promised to no one. You have no guarantee you will live to old age or even wake up tomorrow. The eternity of your soul hangs in the balance with each passing moment. Ask God to awaken your heart to the brevity of life and urgency to know Christ while there is still an open door. Then walk through that door in sincere repentance, faith, and obedience, fueled by His grace (Matthew 24:36-44, Luke 12:16-21, 2 Corinthians 6:1-2).

Food for thought: What assumptions might the enemy use to keep you from sincerely responding to Christ now? What specific actions can you take today to pursue God’s salvation?

  1. Persevere in God’s Call on Your Life Even When It Is Hard (vv. 31-33): Jesus knew His mission to reach and redeem lost souls necessitated going to the cross. Though distressed at the suffering ahead, He resolved to dutifully finish His course because lives hung in the balance. Likewise, God calls each of us to play a part in advancing His Kingdom that requires perseverance through adversity. Sharing the gospel, discipling young believers, standing for righteousness in the public square, meeting practical needs of the poor and vulnerable - serving God in a fallen world is costly. We face spiritual attack, resistance, disappointment, and fatigue. But we must press on by God’s strength because eternal souls and our future reward depend on our faithful perseverance. Take comfort that your labor in the Lord is never in vain, no matter how small the visible results may seem now. Ask Him for grace to fix your eyes on the unseen, eternal outcome to spur you on. Staying faithful to your call expands God’s Kingdom and multiplies joy in heaven over sinners repenting. Allow that vision to propel you through every barrier the enemy raises to obstruct God's work through you. Finish your unique race well to the very end (1 Corinthians 15:58, Galatians 6:9-10, Hebrews 12:1-3).

Food for thought: What aspects of God’s call feel most challenging currently? How can keeping eternal perspective strengthen your resolve?

  1. Don’t Judge the Wicked but Rather Pray and Mourn for their Souls (vv. 34-35): Jesus grieved over lost souls even in the city that ruthlessly rejected and persecuted God's people. He perfectly balanced God's just wrath with heartbroken compassion. We often fail to emulate such mercy. When unbelievers mock or restrict our religious freedom, we grow bitterly resentful rather than interceding for God to save them. But they are blinded captives of the enemy headed to eternal destruction unless awakened to repentance and faith. We must see them as God does - as beloved but wayward sons and daughters deceived into forfeiting their inheritance. Ask Him to break your heart over all those resistant to truth so you fervently pray and sacrificially serve to rescue them from darkness before it is too late. Our self-sacrifice might open a door for them to be reconciled to the Father after all. And if not, take comfort that you will rejoice together with the angels in heaven over every soul who does embrace salvation through others’ efforts (Ezekiel 18:21-23; Matthew 5:43-45; Romans 10:1-3).

Food for thought: Who are the “enemies of God” you are tempted to hate? How might mourning their condition soften your heart to pray and serve? Jesus makes unambiguous claims over our lives as His followers. There is no room for half-hearted devotion. We cannot earn salvation by keeping external religious rules but must be inwardly transformed through wholehearted obedience fueled by love for God. At the same time, embracing God’s righteousness requires that we plead for the lost, not condemn them. We must keep sharing truth even when it offends, yet with the compassion that understands unbelievers’ spiritual blindness and longs to see them freed. This devotional passage challenges us to examine if we are walking the narrow road of sincere faith that leads to eternal life, leaving religious facades behind. It also cautions against assuming we can persist on a casual path of lukewarm commitment without consequences. May we have ears to truly hear Christ’s plea to prioritize entering through the narrow door while we still can. Lives for eternity hang in the balance, including our own. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would search my heart and reveal any areas where I am clinging to a mere outward form of godliness rather than truly knowing You intimately. Expose any hypocrisy or complacency that wrongly assumes I am safe because of my religious background or good deeds. Give me ears to hear Your invitation clearly and feet to walk the narrow road no matter what it costs me in earthly comfort or relationships. I also pray that You would break my heart over lost souls who still resist Your truth and mercy. Fill me with intercession on their behalf. Make me tenacious to keep sharing the gospel with boldness yet Christlike compassion. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 13:24 - “Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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