Believers who walk the narrow road and who sacrifice their lives for Him will receive great reward and privilege of rulership in the kingdom. They must learn to sacrifice their treasure, talents and time in order to be richly rewarded in the kingdom life. My friend, if you are not willing to give your all for the Lord in the present, then you will only be writing tickets for parking meters in the kingdom!
For this reason God’s dedicated disciples have always been a remnant, a small minority in this world. That is why they are “few” in number according to what Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14.
Herbert V. Prochnow said: “There is never any traffic congestion on the straight and narrow path.”
This teaching is really for the disciples who needed to understand that their walk in this life would include hardship and sacrifice for the Lord. It would be like walking on a very narrow winding path where there would be many opportunities for tripping and stumbling and hardship. But they were not to be discouraged because in the end they would enter the kingdom with great reward and prospect for rulership with Christ.
The lesson that Jesus is teaching to His disciples is this. Get busy for the kingdom is coming, and when it comes you want to enter the kingdom with rich reward and ruling privileges. So take the narrow road or the hard knocks by living for Jesus Christ. In the end, it will be worth it all! We must understand that Jesus is talking about real discipleship and the disciple’s future reward and blessing in the coming earthly kingdom.
Jesus is not addressing those other believers who are not willing to suffer and sacrifice for Him. You might say that those other believers who are not fervently serving the Lord and living in light of eternal reward have sat down along the narrow road and are watching God’s few choice servants do all the work! This is why Jesus pressed the disciples to lay up for themselves eternal treasures in heaven instead of on earth (Mathew 6:19-21). Many are living for today instead of tomorrow! In other words, Jesus is not explaining about non-dedicated believers in Matthew 7:13-14 but only those dedicated disciples who will receive reward. They are few in number to the great masses of lost humanity who are pictured on the next road.
The next road Jesus spoke about was the broad road that leads to destruction or spiritual ruin in hell for all eternity. When Jesus speaks about this road I think of a highway filled with cars. I was traveling through the Miami areas on Interstate 95 heading toward the Everglades. At one point I counted eight lanes of traffic which were racing along at a frantic pace. This was a broad road where there were many people traveling. They were traveling at a high rate of speed and it seemed like nobody cared about anything but himself. This is the picture of the broad road. Jesus says that “many” are traveling this broad or very wide road which leads to a Christless eternity in hell fire.
The interpretation and meaning of the wide gate and the broad road directly relates to the pathway that the Pharisees were traveling upon as opposed to His disciples. The Pharisees were a self-righteous group of religious people who absolutely believed that their works or obedience to the law and their own manmade interpretations of the law would bring salvation to them and final entrance into the kingdom.
- Luke 18:10-12 reveals their self-righteous attitude: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”
This is the answer that most people will give you today when you ask them if they are a sinner (Romans 3:23). They are always better than someone else. They are not like the town drug addict or like the fellow who does not take care of his family. They are not in the same category as the person next door. These self-righteous people always compare themselves to another standard instead of the perfect standard of God. They think that they are good enough the way that they are. They go to church and pay their dues. They bake pies for the church bake sales. The broad way is the road of outward righteousness. It’s the road of religion and works which so many are traveling upon today (“many there be which go in thereat”). This road is the pathway where man attempts to establish his own righteousness before God. He attempts to walk the line of self-effort and legalism in a desperate attempt to make himself righteous before a holy God. The man on this broad road is deceived into thinking that his own righteousness will some how take him on a long journey that will ultimately lead into the kingdom. But he is fooled. This road does not lead into the kingdom as the Pharisees thought. It leads into the very pit of hell!
- Romans 10:3 says: “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
This is exactly what the Pharisees were doing. They were walking the pathway of self-righteousness and religion without Christ’s imputed righteousness. They were not acknowledging that they were sinners before God in need of His righteousness.
- Romans 4:3-6 “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”
The Pharisees were trying to merit God’s favor by their own legalistic lifestyle instead of casting themselves upon the imputed righteousness, which they needed from God. Jesus had already spoken to the disciples about this kind of self-effort and manmade legalism earlier in His sermon. And as Jesus spoke the religious leaders were no doubt within hearing distance.
- Matthew 5:20: “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
This was a crushing blow to the Pharisees righteousness who had fabricated a religion that they thought would satisfy God. They had created their own man-made standards so that they could meet them on their own human level. In essence, they said, “God, you will have to take me on the basis my own standards and living.” Now Jesus likens this same group of people to that part of lost humanity who are traveling on a broad road that leads to eternal destruction. They could never enter the kingdom because they are not saved. They have the outward ceremony of religion but not Christ as their Savior. And the way that they live demonstrates that they are not saved. They are religious, but religiously lost and will never enter the kingdom.
- Matthew 7:21-23 gives us the sad end to all self-righteous living: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
These outwardly religious people who have done so many great things for the lord will not enter the kingdom when Jesus returns to earth because they will be found to be nothing more than self-righteous religionists who have never been born again (John 3:3-7). Jesus never knew these people as His own disciples. They were pseudo-disciples walking the broad road of religious profession and resting in their human works or achievements to take them into the coming kingdom. My friend, don’t play Russian roulette with your soul! You will lose in the end. Your works, religion, good life and way of living will not save you! Your outward religious associations will mean nothing to Jesus Christ.