Today I have a little treat for you, and for me.
I've got a guest posting today and he happens to be my favorite Pastor! I am handing over the reigns to him, to explain this next name. I hope you enjoy Trav's thoughts on the significance of Jesus as The Gate!
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it." Matthew 7:13-14
One of the more curious names for Jesus is "The Gate." It conjures up an image in my mind of an old, wooden door leading to a barn, or an opening in a fence leading to a lush pasture. Either way, it represents the opening that one must pass through to go from one place to another. This analogy makes "the gate" an excellent reference to the name of Jesus, because we know that in order to pass from this life into eternity, we cannot go through anyone or anything but Jesus.
The passage above, Matthew 7:13-14, speaks to a common thread that runs through the entire Bible: people, paths, and ultimate destinations. At the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes the distinction between two different gates. Both gates are assumed to provide entrance into the Kingdom of God, but ultimately only one leads to that Kingdom. One is described as the "broad gate" and the other as the "narrow gate."
In order to grasp the significance of Jesus as the Gate, we must look at both descriptions. First, let's begin with the broad gate or the wide gate. What makes this path attractive is that there are many people traveling on it. It is essentially the path filled with "the crowd." How many of us growing up were convinced to follow the crowd into trouble because of the sheer number of people doing it? Why do you suppose that is? I would guess it's because the broad gate represents the easy gate. It is a gate that provides the path of least resistance or the path with the least amount of questioning. While that seems enticing and certainly less of a hassle, we must be very careful to remember who controls the path through the wide gate.
Second Corinthians 4:4 tells us that the god of this world, Satan, is blinding the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel. Satan will use the ideas, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of this world to blind people to the truth and appeal to the depravity of man. Our fallen nature is drawn to the world through the lust of the flesh and eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:15).
A good biblical example of being led astray by a majority of people comes from Abraham's nephew, Lot. Genesis 13:10-11 says,
"Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere...so Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward..."
Lot looked toward the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and saw the great multitude of people living in abundance and the well cultivated land, yet failed to recognize that "the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners agains the Lord (Gen. 13:13)." I'm convinced that Lot chose the broad road because he was so easily persuaded by a great majority of people who lived there.
Second Peter 2:7 reveals the deluding influence of such an evil atmosphere on Lot and his family, as they were oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men. The Greek definition for oppressed is "to be deeply tormented and tortured in your heart and mind." The truth of God was suppressed (Romans 1:18) in such a vile place where immorality reigned, and it's effects on Lot and his family were nothing short of devastating. Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed the angelic command to not look back; his daughters survived but the immoral philosophy they learned in the city led them to incest with their father. And Lot, as a result of his stay in Sodom and Gomorrah, had several weaknesses in his character, including drunkenness and immorality. From Lot's life alone we see that truly the broad road leads to destruction...and many find it.
Conversely, we need to examine the other gate, described in this passage as the narrow way or the small gate that leads to life. In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes 7 "I Am" statements. The third "I AM" statement is found in John 10:9 and says:
"I am the door, if anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."
Jesus paints a beautiful picture for us by calling himself "the Good Shepherd" who calls His sheep to Himself. What is significant about the sheep entering the pasture is the way in which they must pass. John 14:6 reminds us that Jesus is the only way to eternal life, and therefore the only gate or door that we must pass through. Tragically, not everyone will heed the call of God through the narrow gate, but many will go their own way, following and listening to their own desires, often through the broad gate of this world (Ephesians 2:3).
Jesus did not say it would be easy to receive His Word; and in fact, many of His own followers turned back from following Him, claiming His teaching was difficult to accept (John 6:60). However difficult as it may seem, the way promised by Jesus is certainly more fruitful than the way promised by man. Proverbs 14:12 says:
"There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end it leads to death."
It has been said of sheep that they follow their shepherd so closely because they know and recognize the shepherd's voice. If we are to find eternal life, we must follow our Savior closely, and we must know his voice. However, we must know that His voice will never lead us through the broad gate, but rather always through the narrow gate.
Aren't you glad we have a "gate-keeper" who has promised life rather than death??
"My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28
With my kids...
This is the perfect name to set up some kind of obstacle course/maze for little ones to figure out, so that they can understand the concept of only one way. It reminds me a little bit of those activity books for kids, filled with mazes that you have to try and trace your way through to the end? This is not a difficult concept to teach, but it's a critical one to accept. I want my kids to hear this message over and over, that Jesus is the only way to the Father. This world is so opposed to that message and will do everything it can to fill their minds with the lie that there are many ways. There aren't. God's Word tells us repeatedly that only through faith in Jesus Christ alone, can we accept his free gift of salvation. One way and one Jesus. If we don't take the time to intentionally plant that truth in their hearts and minds, someone else will try to replace it with a lie. I can't control what they choose to believe, but I certainly can control what I do to teach them God's Word while they are under my roof and our influence! This is so much more valuable than any sport we put them in or any homework assignment we prioritize. I love this name for Jesus and I'm so grateful that He's made the way to Eternal Life known in His Word!