Saturday 20 August 2016

Bible Book:

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (vv. 13-14)

Matthew 7:13-14 Saturday 20 August 2016

Psalm: Psalm 138



We end the week with another very short passage. Once againwe're reminded that Jesus was part of a long tradition of Jewishteaching. Rabbis often pointed to the two ways that were open us,the way of virtue and life, and the way of vice and death. In anEnglish-speaking culture we may be familiar with John Bunyan's 'Pilgrim's Progress',with its story of aChristian finding his way along the narrow path to heaven andnegotiating its many temptations and obstacles. Or perhaps weremember the more secular poem by Robert Frost, 'The roadless travelled', with its implication that it is always moreadventurous to take the path with fewer travellers. 

For Jesus, though, this contrast between the two ways needs tobe read as part of the climax to the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus hasbeen setting out his vision of life in the kingdom of God. It's alife in which happiness and blessing come to the very people (themeek, the pure, the persecuted - Matthew 5:1-12) who common sense dictatesshouldn't succeed at all. It's a life in which only God sees thetrue nature of our prayer and charity. It's a life of forgiveness,turning the other cheek, walking the extra mile, focussing on God'swill rather than our material interests. No wonder it seems a hardroad and only a minority are drawn to it. Yet this is the road thattakes us to what we most desire. At the end of this chapter, asMatthew's Gospel is winding up the story of the Sermon on theMount, we are given another metaphor for the choice that liesbefore us. We can build the house of our life on the secure rock ofobediently following Jesus, or on the shifting sands of doing ourown thing (Matthew 7:24-27).

To Ponder

  • Think of a situation where you had to choose between two verydifferent directions in life. What helped you to decide whichcourse to take?
  • Who are the people - living or dead - whose example helps youto see the path ahead?  What was it about them that was sohelpful? And give thanks to God for them.
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