In this week’s gospel reading, some anonymous big mouth had to go and toss out one final question as Jesus passed by. He asked, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
What a can of worms this guy opened! Jesus told the man, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.”
We often resign ourselves to the idea that those who do not believe in God, nor care about God, will be in a lot of trouble at the final judgment. But Jesus plainly said that even some people who ATTEMPT to enter the heavenly Kingdom will be unable to do so.
He used the analogy of a master of the house locking the door while people are outside pleading to be let in. The people outside desperately try to remind the master that they’re old buddies, good friends. “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets,” they yell.
But the master replies to them, “I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!”
Jesus made it pretty clear that mere acquaintance with Him and His teachings won’t be enough. Only those who truly embrace Him and live by His words will enter.
It’s so tempting to view a serious religious commitment as something we can always do later. After all, life is hectic now. Work is stressful; the kids are whiny; there’s a new show on Netflix that we have to binge-watch, etc. There’s no time to think about religious stuff right now. Sure, we’ll make time for it one of these days, as soon as things calm down.
With that kind of approach, “one of these days” will never come. But the day when it’s too late WILL come. Some risks are simply not worth taking. If you are planning on having a serious conversation with God “one of these days,” I strongly suggest today be the day.
Go someplace quiet, turn off all the electronic devices, and take fifteen minutes to open up your heart to God. Praise Him for being so awesome and loving—don’t forget, He created you for a very specific and wonderful purpose. Repent for all the selfish and hurtful things you’ve done over the years. Thank Him for sending His Son to die on the cross for your sins. Ask Jesus to wash away your sins and come into your heart. Finally, ask Him to fill you with the power of the Holy Spirit, so that you’ll be able to grow in the faith.
If you do this, not only will your life be changed for the better right now, but most importantly, at some point in the future you won’t be caught outside a locked door, frantically pounding and shouting, “Lord! Let me in!”
One final point about this week’s gospel reading. In the final line, Jesus said, “For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”
He was talking about people who are smug about their status as God’s favorite ones. Far too many people think because of the family they’re born into or the specific prayers they recite, that God is much more pleased with them compared to those “other” people who don’t do it quite right.
God judges by the heart. The sincerity, honesty, and humility of a person’s faith counts for a lot more than his particular family or faith tradition.
Heaven is going to surprise us. We’re going to be surprised by who IS there, and even more surprised by who is NOT there. It’s not very comforting and I wish that anonymous big mouth had never raised the issue, but that is what Jesus said. We need to take it to heart.