Born again believers in Christ know exactly what Jesus is addressing with His statement above, but I wonder how many really consider carefully His words. Jesus’ words “way” and “gates” are two of the most significant in all of His red letter words. Jesus is speaking metaphorically. As we read these two verses we realize He’s making a comparison between two different roads and those who are perishing vs. those who are being saved. The word “way” in the Greek is “hodos” and can also be translated “road”. In this commentary I’ll use the word road.
I was in the Denver airport one time with a huge crowd of fellow travelers and we were all headed for our particular gates to board our flights. Suddenly someone in the crowd made the sound of a cow. Everyone began to laugh because it dawned on us that we were being herded like livestock through the different gates.
As we travel the many different roads of life, we may feel as though we’re being herded similar to travelers at an airport. Just like animals being herded into a holding pen for the inevitable slaughter. We quickly become aware that we’re a part of a huge crowd of seemingly robotic type individuals running to and fro without consciously giving a thought to our destination. The problem with these people, traveling that broad road, is they haven’t included Jesus in their lives. It’s a destructive life road, in which God’s plan of salvation is totally rejected. In the Greek the word used for destruction is apoleia; its meaning refers to an utter destruction and speaks about an eternal misery in Hell, basically its final.
On the other hand, the road Jesus spoke about which leads to life is strait. The Greek word is stenos and it can also mean narrow, I’m sure most have heard the phrase “the strait and narrow”, which commonly refers to keeping ones feet on solid ground. In this case the idea is to follow Jesus Christ. Jesus also addresses the fact that it’s a road that won’t be heavily traveled. If you’re on the correct road you won’t feel as if you’re being herded, but you should feel led. Not led by anything false, but by the Holy Spirit Himself. Jesus is always with us; therefore we won’t travel the “strait and narrow” alone.
Jesus also refers to two different types of gates, and once again He’s speaking metaphorically. When Jesus speaks of entering in through the strait gate it’s the same Greek word used in the strait road above. The Greek translation for “strait” or “narrow” is similar to a tight fit. There will be an effort exerted on our part to travel the strait road. Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not advocating a works orientated participation in our own salvation. On the contrary, no amount of our works can help us gain salvation. The free gift God offers is quite simply just that, it’s free. No, what I’m referring to is once were born again the road can and will be difficult at times. We will need to make some hard decisions that might be unpopular with our family and friends, but decisions that will keep us out of fellowship with the world. Our fellowship should always be with God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14.
ChoicesRecalling a motion picture released a few years ago, which involved the search for the allusive Fountain of Youth, basically eternal life man’s way. It was an Indiana Jones sequel and there were bad people who were searching for this Fountain of Youth along with Jones senior and junior trying to reach it before the villain. What they were actually searching for was the Holy Grail belonging to Jesus Christ. All one needed was to choose the correct challis, take a drink from it and voilà, eternal life. Of course there was a catch, there were many cups to choose from, and a choice had to be made as to which one was the cup Christ drank from. There were gold cups, silver cups, fancy cups, and plain cups. The villain chose a fancy gold cup fit for a king. The choice he made was wrong, and we hear the guard of the Grail declaring “He chose poorly”. As it turned out, the cup which Christ used, according to the movie script, wasn’t gold or silver, but a plain wooden cup. It may not have looked fancy, but it was the right choice. The only truth we realize from that film is that we all must chose wisely.
Jesus uses roads and gates as metaphors. They were quite descriptive in the time that He walked the shores of Galilee and are just as vivid today. There’s no chance of misinterpreting what Jesus is saying to all of us who would take the time to read His words; we can’t interpret these verses as simply suggestive. No, these two verses clearly lay out the eternal destination of both the saved and the unsaved.
“Destruction” is translated from the Greek word apoleia which Jesus uses to give us a thorough description of what the wrong choice will produce. Those who suffer this destruction – who chose poorly – are those who will go down to the fiery pit of Hell when they die. There will be no possibility for a reprieve and no second chances. There is no payment that can be made by anyone here on earth that will get you out of that horrible place. You must make plans to stay out of Hell while you’re still alive and kicking.
Verse 15 in that same chapter of the Gospel of Matthew is a qualifying verse that should always be read along with the prior two verses. It’s important because it explains how so many choose the wrong road and the wrong gate in the first place. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves,” Matthew 7:15. The Greek word for false prophet is pseudoprophētēs or (pseudo – prophet) and its meaning is clear. It is one who, acting the part of a divinely inspired prophet, utters falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies. There are many pseudo – prophets in the world today and their purpose is to lead the masses astray.
People are conditioned to believe as they are taught. If people have been taught that there is no God, then they’ve been conditioned to believe that lie. If they have been taught that there are many gods that also is a conditioning. All those who travel the road that leads them to destruction have been pre-conditioned with some form of false teaching.
False prophets, false doctrines, and false religions are all leading people by their noses along that broad road and right through the wide gate that leads to Hell. Consider if you will all those individuals who’ve died before us; the ones who “chose poorly” are in Hell right now waiting to be judged at the white throne judgment seat of God, where He judges all those who have rejected His Son Jesus’ sacrifice which was made for them. They will then be sent to the lake of fire to remain for eternity. They now know what their ultimate destination will be, that’s part of the torment they are enduring right now. If they could, they would warn everyone who’s currently traveling that broad road about the danger ahead.
Jesus taught His disciples about a rich man who had everything when he was alive and about a beggar who had nothing and begged for the crumbs from the rich man’s table but was turned away. They both died and the beggar went into Abraham’s bosom, but the rich man, who remains nameless, went to Hades, or Hell. The rich man begins the conversation with a demand of Father Abraham. He basically tells Father Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and put it on his tongue so he could feel some relief. The rich man quickly learns this isn’t a possibility, so then he tells Father Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house and warn his brethren so they would have a chance to repent before they died. How did Father Abraham reply to this demand by the rich man? “They have Moses and the prophets let them hear them.” To which the rich man responded, “If someone were to come back from the dead they would listen.” Again Father Abraham responded, “… If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead,” Luke 16:29, 30, 31. The conversation between Abraham and the rich man actually happened, and is as clear as it reads. Those who are waiting the judgment of God would do anything to send a warning to all those who are still alive and remain in rebellion to God. Isn’t it interesting that the message the rich man wanted to send to his family was actually allowed out of that place and given to us by God Himself? Sadly, many will hear it, but few will act on it.
Jesus being fully God knows what Hell is and He gave us a command so we can be a light to those on that wide road, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…, Matthew 28:19. Jesus knew that only by spreading His Gospel and exposing the false prophets through His truth can those who are on the wrong road have an opportunity to chose life based on God’s word and not on the false ideas of man.
Before we became Christians we too were walking along that broad road ready to step through the wide gate, but suddenly there appeared a believer in Christ who told us of God’s saving Grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. How many are still on the broad road because of those Christians who neglect or even refuse to proclaim the truth to them?
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9. It’s not God’s will that those who are traveling that broad road should continue in their rebellion, but that they would hear the Gospel and believe. We, the followers of Christ Jesus are to bring the truth to all who will listen. When they hear the Gospel of truth they, just like us, are given an opportunity to make a hasty exit off that broad road. We aren’t to use any type of force but only to proclaim God’s truth to them with meekness and with love.
Everyone makes bad decisions now and again and will continue to do so throughout this earthly life. But there is one bad decision that will be damming to their souls, and that is the decision to reject the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who’ve made a decision for Christ have dodged a horrible bullet, that’s clear. On the other hand, according to Jesus’ own words, many will remain on the wide destructive road that leads to Hell, no matter what we tell them. Nevertheless, the truth must be presented to them. For them it’s a choice but for us it’s a command.
Wide road, broad gate, strait road, narrow Gate, metaphors certainly. If we drop the metaphors, Jesus’ words shine through brilliantly …I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me, John 14:6.
Choose wisely, a poor choice will be eternally and excruciatingly hot.
God bless you all,Ron Graham