Sermon Notes

The Narrow Life


  • We have come to a very crucial portion in the Gospel of Matthew. It is so crucial that I may dare to say that if no other part of this book has grabbed your attention, this is one that you cannot afford to miss. Brothers and sisters, believe me when I tell you, that this text will utterly change your life if you heed it for what it’s worth. It changed my life 12 years ago and is too precious to my soul. And I pray it changes yours as well.
  • But before we look at our text for this morning, let me take a step back for a moment and remind all of you the two most important rules for interpreting the Bible – context and content.
    • Context – There is only one true interpretation of the Bible. There are not multiple interpretations of the Bible. For example, if I write a letter to my wife and you happen to read it, you would not arrive at the truth of what I am saying if you interpret it anyway you want. The true interpretation of that letter is that interpretation which brings out the meaning that I originally intended.
      In the same way, when Paul writes a letter to the Church that God inspires, it is intended to mean what Paul meant and what God meant through Paul.
      Therefore, we pursue the context to understand what is being said.
    • Content – We strive to trace back to the original words that Paul wrote and refuse to water down or hype up what God inspired. Everything we know about Christianity comes from this book, and we ought to take the greatest care and effort to understand what God is telling us.
      Like any text, we must deal with the content and the nature of that content appropriately. [analogies, wisdom literature, poetry, hyperbole, symbolisms etc]
  • This understanding of context and content is crucial for our study today.
  • We are, in Matthew 7, at the tail end of Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount starting from chapter 5.If I can summarise, Jesus is talking about what it means to be a Christian. In the first part of this chapter, He spoke about Christian fellowship, how believers must fellowship with one-another, and now He is about to conclude with four basic warning.
    Now, I am going to overview these four warnings and focus in on the first today, and we will do each of the other three in the weeks to come.
    So, let me give you one major point of context that we have from this sermon from Jesus.

    • This sermon is primarily directed at believers. Although Jesus’ audience would have had all kinds of people, the sermon itself refers to the Gentiles (or unbelievers) in the third person, and focusses on what is expected of true believers.
      Now, why is that an important context? Because the four warnings that we are about to look at are not issued to the world at large. It is meant for all who call themselves believers or Christians.


  • If I could paint a plausible picture of what this would have looked like when Jesus was preaching this sermon – after talking about what it means to be a true believer (what it means to have the New Life in Christ Jesus), and about how such believers ought to think and live (conducting themselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel), it is as though Jesus looks upon His audience and says – Alright, here’s the thing, there are always two kinds of people; the one’s who are with Me or the ones who are against Me. There is no middle ground. You must choose which side you’re on.
    • In verses 13-14, Jesus talks about two gates and two roads (of life and destruction)
    • In verses 15-20, Jesus talks about two kinds of prophets (true and false)
    • In verses 21-23, Jesus talk about two kinds of disciples (believers and unbelievers), and
    • In verse 24-27, Jesus talks about two kinds of foundations (wise and foolish)
  • And the one that is most striking to me is the third one (on disciples) which is a prophecy that Jesus gives regarding the end times,
    v21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of  heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

    • We will study this in detail three weeks from now, regardless, I urge to ponder, on the magnitude of the implication of this text.
    • Remember, a warning is a sign that you heed so that the consequence of that warning will not befall you. You don’t stamp down the accelerator of your car when you see a signpost that says “Accident Prone Area”, nor do you jump a gate that reads “Beware of Dog”.
      Why then do we not heed the sign of God that says “Death & Destruction Ahead”?
      To His Jewish hearers, this was not a new thing.
    • Deuteronomy 30:19 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
    • Joshua 24:15choose this day whom you will serve
    • Jeremiah 21:8“And to this people you shall say: ‘Thus says the LORD: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.
    • So, in issuing these warnings, Jesus is calling for His audience to take a stand on whom they will serve.
  • v13-14 – “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

    • Here is what we call an analogy (a pictorial example), that is meant to teach a lesson. We must be very careful with analogies that when we expand on them, we should not expand the analogy itself.
      • For example, if when I try to explain to my juniors at office why they must be consistent and thorough in their work, using the analogy of the race between the heir and the tortoise, it doesn’t help when one of them decides to throw in a baboon and explain how it would have run the race.
      • In quite the same way, this analogy has two gates and two roads. There is no third gate or a hidden way through the woods.
      • One gate is narrow and the way it opens to, is narrow. The other is wide and the way it opens to, is broad.
      • Therefore, our first step has to be to understand this picture before we draw out its implications.
    • Enter by the narrow gate.
      • Jesus is not calling you to simply know that there is a narrow gate, or to admire it, or to take a selfie standing in front of that gate. You are called to enter in by it. How can we inherit eternal life? By entering in this gate.
      • The word to ‘enter’ that is used here is a call to definitive action.
        • This picture that Jesus gives us is a strong challenge against all those who say that there are many ways to God, many paths that eventually lead up to Him. Beloved, nowhere in the Bible is that ever the case, and on the contrary, the Bible constantly gives us the opposite picture.
          There is one way, one gate, and it’s a narrow one.
          John 14:6“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
        • But what does Jesus mean then by saying that the gate and way to life is narrow? The next verse helps us understand this a bit more.
      • For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.
        • Here we have another adjective – easy. So the wide gate and way is easy.
          Whereas, the narrow gate and way is hard.
          And we know that we always tend to want the easy way out of anything.
        • The broad way has a destination – destruction. Yet there are many who enter
          by it.
      • For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
        • The destination of the narrow gate and way, is life. But only a few find it.
    • Now that we’ve seen the analogy, the question is what does it imply? We understand the way to eternal life is hard, like entering in by a narrow gate and walking a narrow road, and only a few find it. Whereas, the worldly way is easy, like entering in by a wide gate and walking a broad road, and it leads to destruction, and many enter this way.
      But the deeper question that we ought to be asking here is, “In what way is the Christian life hard?” If we leave this passage with only an understanding that to follow Christ is a hard path, then we would still determine what is hard on our terms.
      Is it hard because we can work only 6 days a week? Is it hard because we have to tithe 1/3rd of our income? What makes it hard? Well, let’s go back to the analogy and see.

      • Again, Jesus said in John 14:6“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
        So, if you apply this analogy to the Gospel, we see that Jesus is the narrow gate and way by which we inherit eternal life.
        How is He narrow? Not because He’s limited or weak, but because the way to eternal life is dictated by Christ alone. There are no multiple options, or backup plans in this path. The word narrow here specifically refers to the reality that God cannot be served on our terms which are broad and easy. He can be served and worshiped only on His terms.
        It’s a narrow gate.
      • It is significant, I believe, that the gate is not at the end of the road but at the start. There is one gate that opens to one specific road, and not many narrow roads that lead up to one gate. We can walk that narrow road only if we enter by this gate.
        • Not only is the entering in difficult, but the path that follows is narrow all the way to its destination. It doesn’t get broader as we walk along. That the entire Christian journey from beginning to end is on God’s terms, not ours. That is why we meditate on His word.
          Exodus 33:13Now therefore, if I have found favor in your sight, please show me now your ways, that I may know you in order to find favor in your sight.
        • And this gate has to be found (those who find it are few).
      • What do you use a gate for? To enter in.
        Now, what difficulties do you face entering in if the gate is narrow?

        • How many people can enter in at once? How many things can you carry in your hand as you enter in?
        • The Beatitudes, The call to personal holiness, Practicing Righteousness, & Interpersonal Relationships] – is hard
      • On the other hand, the wide gate symbolises an accommodating gate where any number of people can enter in on any number of terms. The wide gate will tolerate any interpretation as long as it can maintain any number of interpretations. And so naturally, there are many that enter by it.
    • Are you among the few, or among the many?


  • Every believer claims to have entered in through the narrow gate, the cross of Jesus Christ. Yet many who make this claim live the Christian life on their terms and not the Bible. They walk a broad and accommodating road.
    Let me give you an example.
    Homosexuality is a sin that is condemned in the Bible as God-hating and hell-deserving. And, if you believe that, people will call you narrow-minded.
    We have been tasked by Jesus in Mathew 29:18-20, to take the Gospel to ends of the earth to evangelise the world. But many within the church believe in what we call universalism, that people from all backgrounds will be saved because of their good works, that though they worship other gods, those are just many paths to the same God. This is a heresy and the Bible is extremely opposed to this. And if  you say there is only one way, through Jesus, people will call you narrow-minded.
    If you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God Himself, that it is God-breathed and every word of it is true and perfect, and that there is one true interpretation of it, people will call you narrow-minded.
  • Beloved, to be biblical is righteous narrow-mindedness for the gate and way of righteousness, the way to eternal life, is narrow.We are called to live our life on God’s terms, not ours. We must call evil what God calls evil whether it be atheism, abortion, homosexuality, idolatry, yoga, self-righteousness, pride, and living to please others above God.
    We must instead pursue what God calls good by entering in through this gate and walking its narrow way in loving, caring and cherishing God and God’s people.
  • Why was the death of Jesus necessary? Because of our sin. Adam and Eve did not want to live on God’s terms.
    The people who lived in Noah’s time did not want God’s way.
    The nations that built he tower of Babel did not want God. The Israelites kept turning away from the God who was right before their eyes.
    The Pharisees and scribes, the teachers of the Jewish people did not revere God’s law.
    And yet, to save an obstinate people (who are few according to this portion), God was willing to suffer physical death; Jesus came to die on the cross. And still, we want to build the church and live our Christian life on our terms. If only we’d look and see what living on our terms has brought us.