On His way from Galilee to Jerusalem, Christ Jesus used every opportunity to teach. It was in making Himself accessible to everyone that someone asked, “Lord, are there few that be saved?”
Jews believed that just about all Jews went to heaven because of their heritage. So, why would anyone ask this question? Perhaps its motive was to test Christ Jesus. If He said only a few would be saved, they could say He was being too harsh and teaching against the Jews’ belief. On the other hand, He might be accused of being too lenient if he said there would be many in heaven.
Jesus responded to the question by first saying, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” The way to glory is not a grand and wide way, but a narrow and low passage through which it is difficult to move. The world travels on a wide road leading to a wide gate through which many will pass to their eternal regret.
People who enter in at the strait gate are those who have denied self to follow Christ Jesus. They have sought the spiritual things over the material things as they have put Him first in their lives. It is not necessarily an easy life, but the believer finds himself filled with joy as he makes his way to the strait gate.
The strait gate is visible to both saved and the unsaved people, and Jesus said many “will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” “Strive,” He said, meaning there must be great effort in order to enter that gate. It is not a gate through which careless and reckless people stumble their way into eternity with our Lord.
The master of the house will shut the door and people will be standing on the outside, knocking and saying, “Lord, Lord, open unto us.” There will be a great sense of urgency for people standing on the outside because they will come to the realization they have come to the end of God’s mercy. They have passed from life into death and it will be too late for their salvation.
They will hear the dreaded words of our Lord, “I know you not.” They will be able to see into glory as if there are windows, and they will observe Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets. They will recall how they knew about Jesus, but never knew Him as Savior. It will become clear that salvation does not come as a consequence of a person’s ancestors, but as a result of being born again. There will be, Jesus said, “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Christ Jesus said Gentiles will come from all nations, and they will “sit down in the kingdom of God” while the Jews are “thrust out.”
The question is not how many people will be in heaven, but who are the people in heaven? Will we be among those people?
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. [email protected]