I remember as a child, seeing, on numerous occasions, a print which hung on the wall of a room in a church I attended with my parents. The print allegedly depicted the Broad and Narrow Way spoken of by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel. Many of you will be familiar with the print, or variations of it, which shows the broad road as the place of pleasure, vice, scandal and violence.
However accurate or otherwise that depiction may be – it’s obvious from the context in which Jesus delivered his warning [Matthew 7] that he was not speaking to the irreligious but to his disciples and followers – people who today we would call Christian. In truth there is something we may call Broad Road Religion, which, according to Jesus, leads only to disaster. It is a road well travelled – one where conformity, acquiescence, and acceptance of the prevailing culture hold sway. There is no real challenge on this road – no questioning of the popular, in vogue way of life, religious or social. It is also a road on which any dissent from accepted wisdom will bring censure and disapproval.
Jesus on the other hand continually questioned the religious culture of his day, clashed with the religious authorities and refused to follow the time honoured traditions of the fathers wherever they deviated from his Kingdom vision. He also refused to accept any honour, status or position that people wished to place upon him. For Jesus, entering through the narrow gate and walking the hard road meant that the way up was the way down – the way to be strong was to be weak, the way to power found on the path of failure and defeat, true strength obtained through weakness, true greatness found in servanthood and life found in death. And he calls us – his followers to the same narrow way – no wonder perhaps that few find it – maybe we don’t want to!
“Go in by the narrow gate. For the wide gate has a broad road which leads to disaster and there are many people going that way. The narrow gate and the hard road lead out into life and only a few are finding it.”
Matthew 7:13-14 (PHILLIPS)