Matthew 7:13-14 Sermon – Wide & Narrow Paths

In this sermon Tim continues our What Jesus Taught Series by looking at Matthew 7:13-14 where Jesus talks about the wide path that leads to destruction and the narrow path that leads to life, encouraging us to take the narrow path and find life in Jesus, even when the wide path can be tempting and easy to fall into!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday May 29, 2022.

26/06/22 – Ezekiel 36:26-28 New Heart – by Kirrily Smeallie – God's Empowering Presence Series Manly Life Church Podcast

In this sermon Kirrily continues our series on the Holy Spirit and unpacks the promises found in Ezekiel 36:26-28 where God says to he will give us a new heart and new Spirit! We can today experience the fullness and filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives! Do you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit? For more information about Manly Life check out our website: http://www.manlylife.org You can also find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ManlyLifeChurch Sermon preached by Kirrily Smeallie on Sunday June 26, 2022.
  1. 26/06/22 – Ezekiel 36:26-28 New Heart – by Kirrily Smeallie – God's Empowering Presence Series
  2. 19/06/22 – Ezekiel 36:26 The Spirit is Here! – by Tim Giovanelli – God's Empowering Presence Series
  3. 12/06/22 – Matthew 7:24-27 Sermon Rock or Sand? – by Tim Giovanelli – What Jesus Taught Series
  4. 05/06/22 – Matthew 7:15-23 True & False Prophets – by Victoria Giovanelli – What Jesus Taught Series
  5. 29/05/22 – Matthew 7:13-14 Wide & Narrow Path – by Tim Giovanelli – What Jesus Taught Series

SERMON NOTES:

Read Matthew 7:13-14

13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Well we are in the final of 3 weeks in a series on What Did Jesus Teach. 

  • Premise is if we are to be disciples of Jesus we need to know what he taught. What kind of a life he was calling us to enter into.

Matthew tells us in chapter 4:17 that from that time on Jesus began to preach “Repent for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 

  • That is Jesus message! The sermon on the Mount is calling us into life in the Kingdom of heaven! 
  • A remarkably different kind of life to the one most commonly lived.
  • So Jesus, the preacher of the sermon on the mount is God with us, establishing his righteous kingdom in the middle of human history… 
  • In all of the mess of our lives and humanity… God is doing something about it…
  • He is forming and shaping citizens of heaven, here on earth. 

So we come today to Jesus teaching on the narrow and wide gate, the broad road that leads to destruction and the narrow path that leads to life.

Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes Jesus seems really nice and then other times he seems really demanding.

  • Sometimes it feels like a really inclusive, open invitation… and then other times, this narrower, demanding invitation. 
  • I think we all like the really nice Jesus… you know, the one who teaches about love and giving rest to the weary and laden…
  • We like the Jesus  who heals the sick and does not condemn the woman caught in adultery.
  • We like the Jesus who dies on the cross for us and rises from the dead…who breathes peace on his disciples…

But what do we do with the demanding Jesus… maybe that is the wrong word… maybe it’s the truth telling Jesus…

  • The one who calls the Pharisees a brood of vipers…
  • The one who in the sermon on the mount warns us that those riddled with anger and lust are those in danger of the fire of hell?
  • What do we do with the Jesus who today says most people are on the broad road that leads to destruction?
  • But few are on the narrow path that leads to life?

I always think one of the dangers of being a preacher of the gospel… the message of Jesus is that we fall into the old bait and switch…

  • We preach a gospel (which is true) of undeserved forgiveness and mercy and grace… but with no call to repentance and a transformed life!
  • We are so desperate to get people saved… or to join our church families…
  • That they actually get saved into a demand free gospel that costs so little that it is robbed of its power.
  • What if Jesus is saving us as a complete act of mercy… but then calling us into a life less travelled?
  • Yes one that is full and whole and healed and reconciled…
  • But also costly, holy, set apart and transformed?

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

When I became a Christian, one of the stories that struck me and resonated with me was Les Misérables… 

  • And if it is ok, I would like to sing you a few of my favourites from the musical adaptation… 
  • No, that would be a terrible, terrible idea. 
  • But I do remember in my early 20’s reading the abridged book, watching the movie and then seeing the musical on the West End in London.
  • Let’s just say I was a super fan!

But it tells the story of the former convict Jean Valjean who as a recipient of undeserved mercy goes on to live an exemplary life. 

  • The French author Victor Hugo actually explains the meaning of his work later in the book when he says…
  • “The book from one end to the other details a progress from evil to good, from injustice to justice, from falsehood to truth, from night to day, from corruption to life, from hell to heaven, from nothingness to God”!
  • Amen.

At the beginning of the story, Jean Valjean, just released from 19 years imprisonment for stealing loaves of bread

  • Is turned away by innkeepers as a former convict and ends up bitter and angry on the streets. 
  • Finally a kind Bishop gives him shelter, but when night falls, Jean Valjean steals the Bishops silverware.
  • He is caught and returned by police to the Bishop, and at his word, is facing life imprisonment. What a scene…
  • And then the Bishop, does something remarkable, something surprising, something that shocks the criminal Jean Valjean… 
  • The Bishop pretends that he had given the silverware to Jean Valjean, and presses him to take two silver candlesticks. 
  • The police accept the Bishops explanation and leave. 

The Bishop tells Jean Valjean that his life has been spared for God and that he should use the money from the silver candlesticks to make an honest man of himself. 

  • And so as the recipient of the scandal of grace… the question becomes, what road will Jean Valjean decide to embark on?
  • With this get out of jail card will he then go back to his evil ways…
  • Or can he see this act of mercy as the changing point of his life. 
  • What kind of a human being is he going to be?

Well I won’t totally ruin the story for the 3 remaining people in the world who don’t know this amazing tale…

  • But needless to say, Jean Valjean ends up living a transformed life of kindness.
  • He ends up becoming mayor of a city and in turn transforming the lives of the destitute that he encounters. 
  • But the reason I think the story resonated with me… is it goes to the questions all us Christians must ask…
  • Saved by grace… what kind of life am I now called to live?
  • Do I continue on the broad road that leads to destruction…
  • Or will I follow Jesus into the narrow path that leads to life?

Well before we get to what this narrow path that leads to life is, it is probably just worth giving a two second theological framework for this. 

  • Because what we are talking about are the Christian doctrines of justification and sanctification.
  • How we become the children of God, and how we then live as the children of God.
  • Or how we get saved and then how we become transformed. 

Justification is the starting point of Christian faith. It is the entry point into becoming a child of God…

  • This is the narrow gate through which we enter. That gate is Jesus. 
  • Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
  • Or Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
  • When Jean Valjean was shown mercy by the kindly Bishop, for him it was “just if I’d” never stolen the silverware…
  • When we accept Jesus as our Lord and saviour, before God it is “just if I’d” never sinned.
  • It is the gift of God through the death of his Son Jesus Christ on the cross. 

Then we talk as Christians about sanctification… this is the ongoing transformation we go on to become more Christ like in our lives as recipients of grace.

  • This is the narrow road that leads to life.
  • Ephesians 4:1 “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received”
  • Or 2 Corinthians 3:18 “ we are being transformed into his image.”
  • So there is this intentionality in Christianity, that once saved we are to live a life worthy of that. It is demanding!
  • We are to become more like Jesus. We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness…
  • We have a goal of living set apart, good and meaningful lives in service of others!

And I think the reason it is so powerful to know this… is it is our justification that fuels our sanctification….

  • We know this right? You can’t change yourself by just trying harder or by making up how you’ll live as you go along…  
  • But if you are unconditionally loved… if you are given the power of the Holy Spirt… 
  • If you are brought into new citizenship in a new kingdom with a new path…
  • Then we find ourselves motivated to get on the narrow path that leads to life…
  • For Jean Valjean… the kindly Bishop says his life has been spared for God. 
  • Now that he knows love, he is able to reproduce this love towards others in his life. 

So, what does the broad road that leads to destruction look like, and what does the narrow path that leads to life look like. 

  • And I think it is important in thinking through this, to let scripture interpret scripture… 
  • And I think the context to what the narrow path looks like is found in Jesus’ sermon on the mount…
  • Afterall, as we have suggested throughout this series… this is Jesus describing what life as a citizen of heaven looks like. 
  • The narrow path is the life that is grabbed by the gospel and then takes discipleship to Jesus and his way seriously. 

What does the wide path look like… well read the sermon on the mount again… Seriously, we all need to take personal responsibility for wrestling with what it looks like. 

  • OK? But here are a few things I pick up on from Jesus message… 
  • Now this is incomplete and you really need to have followed this whole series…
  • And you really will need to study the message of Jesus for yourself…

But… the broad road that leads to destruction from Matthew 5…

  • It’s a life out of sync with the beatitudes where Jesus described who is blessed…
  • So it wouldn’t seek to be a peacemaker or pure in heart or merciful… 
  • It’s a life that not just breaks the commandments of God that were meant to bring life, but also doesn’t ever deal with the inner condition of anger, lust and the desire for revenge… 

In Matthew 6… 

  • Jesus talks about the hypocrites who give and pray and fast for show… but whose motivations have nothing to do with generosity or relationship with God, or sacrifice. 
  • Jesus talks about the broad path including loving money more than God, living in constant worry rather than seeking his kingdom.
  • Right? How often do you see that love of money get in the way of love of God…
  • That’s a biggie here… greed. Jesus has more to say about greed than almost anything else. 
  • Love of money is a major shipwrecker of lives and marriages and freindships…

In Matthew 7 Jesus talks about the broad road of judging others constantly while never dealing with your own flaws… 

  • So broad is this selfish, money obsessed, internally angry and lustful road that leads to destruction
  • And Jesus says this is the road that most people find themselves on… 

So what does the narrow path look like?

  • And I want to point out something so important here… Jesus says it is narrow, few find it… but it leads to life. This is a good goal…
  • The Greek word we translate into English as life being the Greek word zoe.
  • And it denotes this remarkable, God breathed, eternal and whole life!
  • Remember there are two words from the Greek we translate as life… bios and zoe…
  • Bios… our biological life… given to decay and corrupted… 
  • But zoe is divine life… God breathed on and never ending… 

So again, letting the context of Jesus words breath meaning into what he is saying here… 

  • Let’s assume Jesus in preaching the sermon on the mount has described the narrow road that leads to life. 
  • And we need to fall under the conviction that not only are his words true, but that they lead to life… or put another way, will save you from shipwrecking your life…
  • And will give you a remarkable transformed life…

It’s a blessed life that hungers and thirsts for righteousness… that is pure in heart and seeks to be a peacemaker… 

  • Jesus describes the narrow path as being a light on a hill to others and salt to preserve what is good
  • The narrow path deals with the inner condition of the heart and excises anger and lust and the desire for revenge… replaced with love and praying for enemies…
  • It’s a life marked by generosity and prayer and fasting, but done not for the approval of others, but for God.
  • It’s a life that drops the stones and deals with the plank in your own eye. 
  • You get the idea…

Many years later after his own conversion, the Apostle Paul who was saved by grace would put it this way…

  • 2 Timothy 1:9 “He has saved us and called us to a holy life”
  • There it is again… justification and sanctification…
  • He has saved us… it is God who does it, through Jesus as an act of saving mercy…
  • And he has called us to a holy life… this narrow path that leads to life!
  • He has saved us and called us to a holy life. 

Let me finish with this thought…

“The Christian life must be entered into intentionally…” (say again)

There is actually a scene in Les Miserables that I didn’t mention… 

  • After he is saved from prison but before he goes on to the virtuous life. 
  • Valjean, purely out of habit steals a coin from a 12 year old child whom he then chases away… 
  • But he quickly repents and searches the city for the boy to make amends. 
  • You see the broad road is easy and second nature to Jean Valjean…
  • But having entered a new life through the narrow gate because of the Bishops kindness
  • He then has to be intentional about walking his life out on the narrow path!

And I guess that poses the question for me… it poses the question for you… having been saved by Jesus

  • Where must we be intentional about the life we will choose to live.
  • Yes we’re convicted by the Holy Spirit, and empowered by the Holy Spirit and guided by the Holy Spirit…
  • But we must choose. What are those choices for you?
  • But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Published by timgiovanelli

My wife Victoria and I are planting a new church in Manly, NSW

One thought on “Matthew 7:13-14 Sermon – Wide & Narrow Paths

  1. Excellent teaching, just what I needed to wake me up, and get back doing what I did at first,thank you for blessings me, and now I’ll pass this on as much needed in church today, and you keep up the good work HE has equipped you to do.

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