Church of Christ
Locks Cross Roads
3) Matthew 7 - Strait and narrow
What is the contextual connection between this section and the general topic under study: "judging one's fellows"?
It has been said by many scholars that a maxim similar to the Golden Rule is to be found among the teachings of
some of the world's greatest teachers. This fact has been interpreted by some to mean that Jesus rule is not so
original and unique after all. A closer examination of that teaching, however, reveals its typically human origin
because it rises no higher than those reflective men themselves. Among the western philosophers there were
Socrates and Aristotle; among the oriental sages, Buddha and Confucius; among the Jews the great Hillel.
Basically, these all had said: "What you would not have done to yourself, do not do to others." But this is merely
the dictum of selfishness, an expression of prudence that withholds injury from another lest the other return the
Do unto others. Jesus demands positive social action. He has no use for that self-complacency which is harmless,
negative goodness that does nothing wrong, but never does any good either. To Jesus, omission to be helpful is
To us, the final test of our actions and motives is not "What would Jesus do?" because that test too often evolves
into a hypothesis, never to be completed. The more practical test of our social motivation is our own desire to be
treated well. Jesus commands us to exchange positions with our neighbor and do for him in his position what we
would have him do for us in ours.
We arrive at this conclusion, not by supposition of what He might have done, but by application of His Rule which
determines what we should do.
Matthew 7:13 the figure that Jesus uses is that of two final destinations under the form of two cities, "Destruction"
and "Life." Each city has a gate by which it is entered: one is wide and the other, narrow. Each city is approached
by a road: one broad, the other restricted of passage. For Jesus, there are only these two possible choices, and
as any natural law, His word divides men into these two groups every time (Matthew 12:30, Matthew 13:18-23 and
38 and 49, Matthew 25:32-33).
The emphasis is not on the entering, as opposed to remaining outside since all of humanity is regarded as entering
one gate or the other. Rather, the emphasis is upon the choice of the right gate. In light of the final destination of
each of the two roads, the critical question is which gate to choose and the necessity of choosing with discernment.
Jesus is probably saying, "It is the easiest thing in the world to destroy oneself, and the majority of the world's
people are doing just that." Many are they that enter in thereby.
Destruction describes the disintegration of all that was important in the lives of the wicked. They stand before the
great judgment without friends, without influence, without wealth, without character-morally bankrupt in every
respect. Here is the wretchedness of a wasted life, the conclusion of every life out of harmony with the will of God.
Matthew 7:14 Narrow is the gate and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life and that path gets the most wear
along the edges! The terms narrow and straightened have reference to the difficulty of travel toward Life (Matthew
10:34-39, Luke 14:25-33, John 16:33, Acts 14:22, 1st Thessalonians 3:3). It requires effort, sacrifice and self
surrender to enter into Life. And few are they that find it. There is certainly no easy optimism in this sad declaration
of Jesus. Jesus intends this statistically negative picture as a frank warning that makes His disciples realize what to
expect in His service. He would have them make their decision wisely.
Another asked the Master this same question (Luke 13:23 and following). Jesus considered it an idle question and
answered: "You must struggle to get in by the narrow gate, because many, I tell you, will try to get in and they will
not be able!" Our obedience is more important than our knowing whether those who are saved be many or few
(Matthew 22:14, Matthew 18:8, Matthew 24:12-13, Luke 18:8).