Sermon: Fight to Enter (Luke 13:22-30)

Like 13. 22-30 Audio

Fight to Enter

Luke 13:22-30

Introduction

Lk 13:22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem.

Lk 13:23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them,

Lk 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Lk 13:25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’

Lk 13:26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’

Lk 13:27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’

Lk 13:28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.

Lk 13:29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.

Lk 13:30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

1. A Theoretical Question

Lk 13:22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem.

Lk 13:23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”

Jesus is continuing on His mission to go to Jerusalem.  Luke shows us that what our Lord came to do is being accomplished and every day He travels closer and closer to the cross.

Lk 9:51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.

A man fights his way to the front of the crowd and voices a question.  On the surface this question may seem ok.  It may seem appropriate.  However, it’s completely in the realm of speculation and theory.  In other words, there’s no real usefulness to either this question or the possible answer.  He doesn’t seem to be asking out of concern for his own soul.  He seems to be asking in a way as to sidetrack the teacher.

It was a known fact in 8th grade that if you could somehow introduce the topic of fishing to the science teacher, your note taking would be finished for the day.  The remained of class would be spent in a boat casting for largemouth bass.  This little detail was accomplished many times by certain skillful inquirers.

This person has seen Jesus preach and teach and has seen Him heal.  He has also specifically heard Jesus speak about repentance and faith.  What was beginning to develop in and around Palestine was a realization that salvation did NOT come automatically just because one was a descendant of Abraham.  In fact, what was beginning to be understood was that had nothing to do with salvation whatsoever.  To be saved, one must be born again and as a result of the new birth repent and believe.  Jesus taught that salvation came to those who were in fact spiritual Israel through the manifestation of the Spirit’s work in their repentance, not salvation in a national level.  So compared to national Israel being saved through their lineage, the number actually being saved undoubtedly seemed small.  The person asking the question was not seeing much repentance.

Earlier in chapter 13 we were shown another question of pure speculation.

Lk 13:1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

Lk 13:2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?

Lk 13:3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Speculation and theory are all right in certain circles.  However, care must be taken because in the realm of theory speculation there are often only opinions that really do no one any good.  Jesus could have answered thousands or millions will be saved.  This answer really would do no one any good.   So our Lord gave everyone something real to consider.

I’m often asked questions concerning the Doctrine of Election.  Who are the elect?  What if I’m not elect?  What if my children are not elect?  Can everyone be saved?  Is there anyone who can’t be saved?  Is election fair?  Isn’t everyone elect?

All these questions are important to consider at different times, but the right way of thinking should be along these lines: Since God has given the Gospel as the means of salvation and since He’s chosen those whom He will save by the Gospel and since the demands of salvation are repentance and belief, when I hear the Gospel, I’d better repent and believe.  You see, Election and the Gospel must go past theory and enter into reality and deeply affect my thinking and behavior.  It is through repentance and belief I am assured I’m elect.  Many of the speculative questions concerning Election fade away as one begins to practice Gospel requirements.

Salvation is both and not either or.  God has chosen before the foundation of the world those whom He will save and at the same time I must repent and believe.  This is very much what Jesus tells this crowd…

2. The Open Door

Lk 13:24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Agonizomai– The agonize for the finish line.  Used in athletic competition.  The emphasis is on the current struggle, fight or striving in salvation.  In other words, striving is to exert oneself to the full.  Jesus is not saying that justification comes through hard work.  What He is saying is that salvation is all of grace but the grace that saves is also a grace that enables striving for the finish line of perseverance.

Phil 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,

Phil 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 

We must work out our salvation as God works within us.  So we must make every effort.  We must strive to enter the narrow door.

Our Lord also wants us to completely understand that this narrow door will not always be available to go through.  It’s open now but it will not be open forever.  His language of the narrow door reminds us of:

Mt 7:13 “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.

Mt 7:14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Jesus uses much the same imagery.  The gate is narrow, the way is hard, and few will enter.

3. The Closed Door

Lk 13:25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’

Lk 13:26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’

Once the door is shut it’s too late.  Salvation is not offered any longer to humans.  Once the door is shut it will not be reopened.

The narrow opening leads to life but it will not always be open.  The reality is we don’t know when the door will be closed, so the point is we had better enter through it now while it’s open than waiting for later because once it’s closed we cannot be saved.

The picture Jesus paints for us is a sad picture.  He says that there will be people knocking and pleading for entrance but they will not be able to enter.

Jesus Himself will be the One to close the door.  They will plead and say we ate with You and heard You teach. 

Understand, that the very people who were among the five thousand being fed by Jesus and hearing Him teach.  Many of the ones who declared that we’ve never heard anyone teach like this, He teaches as One who has authority.  According to Jesus many of these very people are outside knocking after the door is shut.

3. The Door with a Window

Lk 13:27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’

Lk 13:28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.

Jesus very pointedly declares that these on the outside are not manifesting the Spirit’s presence in their lives by striving to enter the narrow door while it’s open.  These are the rebellious evil doers who are not willing to submit to Christ and enter through the open door.  These are those who think that God should make special exception for them.  God should submit to their will.

God is in charge of this universe not them.  He has offered salvation to mankind…

Mt 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Salvation is a free gift.  However, it’s not going to always be available.

Those still outside when the door closes are the evil doers who really don’t want Christ, they just don’t want hell.  They don’t love Jesus but dislike hell.  But hell is where they all go who never enter the narrow door.

Notice what Jesus says, in hell everyone will be able to see heaven.

Lk 13:28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.

Can you imagine how terrible it would be to see heaven and yet never having any hope of being there yourself?  The result is their true colors come out… be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  This is the picture of evil frustration.  The weeping is of inconsolable, never-ending wretchedness, and utter, everlasting hopelessness.  The gnashing or some translations say grinding of teeth is frenzied anger.       

4. The Door For All People

Lk 13:29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.

Lk 13:30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

It should be noted that in this context, Jesus is speaking to the Jewish people.  They thought they were given entrance based on their birthrights.  However, they refused to hear Christ and repent.  They are forbidden to enter.  The door to them is shut.  However, look at all the Gentiles who God has graciously saved!

Lk 13:29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.

This narrow door is for all people.  It’s not just for a certain nationality but for people of all ethnic origins.

Rv 7:9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

The door is for everyone who believes the Gospel and submits to Christ while the door remains open.

Again, in context, Jesus goes on to explain that there are some who at first had the message of salvation preached to them but who refused to listen because of their hard hearts.  Now, those previously who were the last to receive the Gospel will in fact be first in the Kingdom.  He is not teaching universalism here, but giving a metaphor of everyone’s responsibility to listen to the warning.

5. The Narrow Door that’s Wide Enough

The first point of application is not that there will be some who cannot enter but that there is no sinner too evil to enter.  All who come through Christ may enter.  He is the door.

Jn 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 

There is no sinner too wicked to be given admittance through the narrow door, it’s wide enough to receive even the chief of sinners.

Eph 3:8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,

1 Tm 1:15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

1 Tm 1:16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

The narrow door is wide enough to receive the chief of sinners; it’s wide enough for you and me.  If the grace of Christ can overpower the rebel Saul of Tarsus it is sufficient for us.

Have you walked through that narrow door?  It stands open.  Jesus is ready to receive sinners.  It’s open now but not open forever.  Come to Christ today and be saved!


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