Jesus said, “How narrow is the gate and how constricted the path that leads to life, and there are only a few who discover it.”
— Matthew 7:14 (USC)
Only a few are given the grace that leads them to life. Only a few make their own determination of wisdom and chase it with all they have. These are the ones who have been scourged of their old life to the point nothing remains; they, verily, have lost their lives and, so, have had space made for Christ to save them. They have first been purged of themselves.
We might otherwise not know how to know God.
Unless by wicked chance God makes himself known to us — like, “In your peril, I am saving you, for you have no help or hope otherwise” — we don’t know how to know God. We can only know of him.
The narrow gate is the instance of suffering; that, coming with overwhelming power, which we cannot hope to comprehend. Only then, in a collapsed state, do we truly learn to depend on God.
So we don’t detest that wicked circumstance of the grandeur of injustice that has been foisted upon us — a cruel cross to bear! (Was any cross crueller than Christ’s?)
No, we see that cruelty as a kindness of God — to take us deeply into himself.
The true knowledge of God — to know him — is contingent on surrender, first and foremost, and then surrender as a way of life.
But if we cannot see the kindness in this cruelty, we will baulk at the gate, resist our pain, and refuse to enter in, rejecting it.
We reject our pain, we reject our Saviour. We reject what we must go through and we reject what he went through.
We, instead, imagine ourselves on the road to Golgotha with him.
Indeed, this may be the first and only time we can genuinely identify with him who suffered more indecently than anyone can imagine.
So, there is only one way.
There is only one way — Jesus, the way, the truth, the life. Life has been born out of our cruel circumstance — suffered with God.
In our coming to know our pain, God makes it possible that we can know him.
In knowing him we come to be enlightened into the passage of all insight.
The passage of all insight is the possibility of faith. And only through faith may we please God.
The narrow gate leads all the way to life,
It’s the only way we’ll stay out of strife,
So be that one; be one of the few,
Only through the narrow gate are we held true.
QUESTIONS in REVIEW:
1. Can you now but see, the very point of suffering? In your own words, portray the meaning of your suffering.
2. The gospel message is a reversal of life... those who wish to save their lives must first lose their very lives. How much does this principle of reversal operate in life — how much of wisdom operates according to this principle?
3. Have you entered through the narrow gate? How can you know? Specify how your identification with Jesus in your suffering happened and reflect over it.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.