Sermon: The Life and Path of the Kingdom Matthew 7:12-14

Truth Taught- Jesus calls all Christians to live one way and follow the one path.

Introduction

As we reach the closing sections of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is summarizing what He’s been teaching (V. 12) and then pressing His teaching home desiring a lasting commitment from His listeners (Vs. 13-14).

He’s taking these wonderful truths and amazing declarations and now telling all His followers, including us to now live out these commands.  We are not called to sit around pondering and calculating and even scrutinizing these truths.  For a follower of Jesus all He really needs to do is tell us what God commands and immediately we should follow.  No discussion or debate.  If Jesus is our Lord then He calls the shots and this is what He’s doing here.  He’s taught us many breathtaking things and now He’s telling us to live accordingly and follow accordingly.

Prayer

Matthew 7:12–14 (ESV) 

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 

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

1.  The Kingdom Life

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 

Here as Jesus begins to conclude His sermon He gives us a summary of all the OT Law and the prophets taught.  In other words one can summarize the entire teaching of God in His Law by this sentence…12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them

This wasn’t the first time Jesus’ followers had heard this type of teaching.  The Jewish Rabbis had taught this.  Jesus does it differently and it really makes all the difference.  When they taught this they did it in a negative fashion.  They would teach it like this: Do not do anything to anyone that you would not want them to do to you.

If you don’t like being robbed, do rob anyone.  If you don’t like being lied to, don’t lie to anyone.  If you don’t like being beat up, don’t beat up anyone.  If you don’t like being cheated, don’t cheat anyone.  These are all well and good but they are not moving a person toward godliness and there is not grace involved.  Jesus is teaching us what we are to do not what we are not to do.  A lost person can refrain from doing certain things like robbing someone but that does not make them anymore Christ like than they were before.  They cannot, however do what God commands.  They may not offend someone but that does not do any positive good.  Far too often we think that if I don’t do some evil then I’m living godly.  Jesus tells us what we are to do here not what we are not to do.   

We are not called to withdraw from the world and not sin.  We are called to be light and salt in the world and go on the positive to do to others what you’d like them to do to you. 

Here is an important note.  We are not to do good to others because we expect them to do good to us.  Jesus does not say here that we are to do to others what we would like them to do to us in order that they will do the same to us.  We may never receive the kindness we extend to others but we must still be kind.  We may never receive the mercy we extend to others.  Instead we are called to act this way because it is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets; it is what the Kingdom of God looks like.  We are to act accordingly toward others whether we ever are repaid with kindness and mercy.  As God’s people we are called to live for His glory and love our neighbors whether or not they ever do good to us.  

Don’t be caught off guard here, when you live this way you probably won’t receive the kindness you extend but we are still to extend it.  

Matthew 22:37–40 (ESV) 

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” 

The Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ call to live out His teaching, as we learned list time, takes persistent praying for God’s righteousness and seeking His Kingdom.  God, give us a burning desire to walk in humility and love toward others.  Cause our love for You to increase as we ask, seek and knock will we always find the answer to our prayers in You.  

Here’s a picture of what will probably often happen when we treat other the way we would like to be treated.  The reward does not come from reciprocal kindness but the reward comes as we live out the reality that we are God’s children part of His Kingdom.

Matthew 5:43–48 (ESV) 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 

2.  The Kingdom Path

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

Jesus wants us to picture two paths or roads and each with its own gate.  First, there is a wide path with a wide gate and many people have walked and are walking this accommodating easy path.  This path is spacious to travel.  However, the wide path leads to destruction.  People enter this gate as they follow the crowd and funnel through together not really thinking too much about where they are going.   The wide path is the path of tolerance, diverse opinions, permissiveness of morals.   Everyone does what is right in their own eyes.  

Secondly, Jesus wants us to see a narrow gate that leads to a narrow path.  This way is harder to travel.  It is at times confining and for that reason, there are few travelers on this path.  This path has certain guidelines and commands to be concerned with.  This path is winding and narrow.  While the traveling is more difficult, this path leads to life. The word life, here is a synonym for the Kingdom of God.  

Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, Jesus told us.  

Let’s look at a few points concerning the Narrow Way…

            A.  The Narrow Path is the Hard Path

Just because the narrow path is more difficult to travel does not mean its not joyful.  In fact the narrow path is the path of joy and peace.  The narrow, hard to travel path is the path with the most Joy.  Jesus wants us to see that God’s way is narrow and confining as far as the world is concerned but narrow and confining when it’s God leading us is the path with unspeakable and unimaginable joy and peace.  

It is this path that the believer enters by grace through faith.  It is this path that we experience and know God through our Lord Jesus.  It is this path that we experience the forgiveness of sin.  This path leads us to a closer walk with Jesus.  

This is the path that is counter cultural.  Here we are happy when persecuted for our faith, mourning over our sin, hunger and thirst for righteousness.  There are costs while traveling the narrow way but the cost only prove to be for our good in fitting us better for the Kingdom of God.  

Mark 10:29–31 (ESV) 

29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” 

            B.  The Narrow Path is Not the Popular Path

and those who find it are few.

If you’re a Christian and seeking the righteousness God desires us to have, realize you will not win a popularity contest.  If you do, you’re doing something wrong.  If you desire to please man and fit in and go with the flow, you will be carried along and find out that you’re on the wide path.  It’s the wide path that your friends are on.  It’s the wide path that people praise you.  It’s the wide path that the world cheers you as you travel.  That path leads to hell and destruction. 

The narrow path is the path of truth not of fads and entertainment.  The narrow path is the path where we do what God tells us for God’s glory not for the praise of men.  If you remember the hypocrites practice their righteousness to be seen by others.  

Joshua 24:15 (ESV)

15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Walking the narrow path means you’re willing to stand for truth even if everyone else is on the wide path.  Are you willing to go it alone if necessary?

One of my heroes from Church History is Saint Athanasius from the 3rd Century.  He believed the biblical view that Jesus, the Son of God is divine and not a created being.  Arius who was the polished orator with the masses following him promoted the false idea that Jesus was created being and not eternal God.  Athanasius stood almost all alone boldly proclaiming the truth when everyone else, it seemed, was going down the wrong path.  Why are you so hardheaded Athanasius?  Why do you stand on this dogmatic doctrine when it’s clear everyone else is going a different way.  The whole world is against you.  I love Athanasius’ response.  Then it’s Athanasius against the world.

In 328 Athanasius succeeded Alexander as bishop of Alexandria. Athanasius refused to participate in negotiations with the Arians, wary of compromise on such an important issue. Once the search for common ground took priority over sound doctrine, Athanasius feared, the truth would be lost. More and more of the other bishops accepted Arianism. Emperor Constantine himself sided with the Arians. But Athanasius continued to vigorously defend the full deity of Christ against the leaders and theologians of his day, refusing to allow Arians into his church. For this, he was regarded as a troublemaker by various emperors, and he was banished several times from his city and his church. At times, it seemed Athanasius was the sole proponent of Christ’s deity, a doctrine that he vehemently defended. Athanasius’ unmoving dedication to biblical truth in the face of severe opposition led to the expression Athanasius contra mundum, or “Athanasius against the world.”[1]

The narrow path may mean that you’re alone at times standing for truth when everyone else is going down the wide path.  

            C.  The Narrow Path Alone Leads to Eternal Life

Probably the most important point we could ever get here is that there is only one path that leads to eternal life.  All paths do not lead to life and God’s Kingdom.  All religions do not lead to heaven regardless what people might tell you.

Some may think that there are so many religions surely Christianity cannot be the only one that leads to heaven.  Others say that all religions are basically the same worshipping the same god from different perspectives.  Still others bring up the fact that other religions are very devout and that they fully believe and practice their religion and God accepts such commitment.

The problem with all these arguments is that they do not reside in reality and truth.   

            D.  The Narrow Path is a Person

Perhaps now the most incredible spiritual claim in all of human history can be heard. Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Not a way, a truth or a life, but the way, the truth and the life. It is this idea that marks the Christian faith. In the Book of Acts, we read the apostle Peter’s proclamation: “It is by the name of Jesus Christ… Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10, 12).

While there are many religions from which to choose, they differ radically from one another, and choosing where to place your spiritual trust is neither narrow-minded nor intolerant.

Truth exists, and it matters.

If all roads do not lead to God, then a spiritual search will lead you to the scandalous reality of one way. And for the Christ follower, that way is through a person:

Jesus Christ.

Which path are you on?  Look at your level of commitment, which you can judge by how much you put into practice what you know God would have you do. Would “the narrow gate” describe the way you are choosing to live? Or are you choosing the easy way, the way that meets the least resistance?

*Resources Used:

Matthew by D A Carson in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary

A Theology of Matthew by Charles Quarles

A Gospel of Matthew by France

Matthew by Craig Bloomberg

Matthew by Doriani

Matthew by Charles Price

Matthew by Leon Morris

Blue Letter Bible

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount by D A Carson


[1] Who was Athanasius by Got Questions

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