The Kingdom 2 - The Narrow Door
Updated: Apr 28
Chan Gin Kai
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” (Luke 13:22-23)
As Jesus was preaching, someone from the crowd enquired if only a few people are going to be saved. Now I’ll admit that’s a question many of us are probably curious about. But imagine having the Messiah beside us, and we’re more curious whether many or few would be saved? Shouldn’t we be more concerned whether we are? The person’s question reflects an overconfidence in himself.
The Marks Of The Overconfident
But isn’t that what many of us have also shown while listening to sermons or reading our Bible? Wow, Susan needs to hear this sermon! Hey, this is a great insight to share with Samuel!
While we should delight in sharing what we’ve learnt from the Bible and be concerned about each other’s spiritual health, the bigger question is how concerned are we about our own?
Have we been finding more lessons to teach others than insights to change ourselves? That’s because it’s easier to remember other people’s weaknesses than our own. Are we presumptuous that we’ve got all our doctrines right? Paul even warned his disciple, the evangelist Timothy, to be watchful of his doctrines. Do we get self-assured about our own righteousness? Paul warned Timothy about that too.
It wasn’t even because Timothy was especially prone to over-confidence or careless about these issues. Paul made that warning because everyone needs to hear that reminder.
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16)
If Timothy needs to hear that, how much more the rest of us?
The Overconfident is more curious about others’ salvation than concerned about his own. He is more alert to others’ mistakes than he is aware of his sins. He’ll be in for a shock one day, when others are welcomed in heaven but he is sadly denied.
And that’s what Jesus warned his hearers about.
The Warning To The Overconfident
He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’” (Luke 13:24-25)
Jesus didn’t just reply the person who asked, but addressed the crowd. He must have known that there were others there who were overconfident too, just as many of us are. His instruction to them (and to us) was, “Make every effort”.
Before we get curious about others, let’s be frank with ourselves and consider this question, “Are we making every effort?” Now, let’s not negate Jesus’ warning here with Paul’s teaching about grace in Ephesians 2:8-9. God’s amazing grace and the fact that we will never be able to earn our salvation does not diminish our need to make every effort.
Jesus said, “… many, I tell you, will try to enter and not be able to.” You know what should get us really concerned? Jesus’ use of the word “many”. It’s not just that handful of really terrible people that somehow dare to call themselves Christians. It’s the many, people like you and me, that “will try” but not “make every effort”. There’s a great difference between them.
We desire relationships, but detest commitment. We adore the joy that comes with it, but abhor the efforts required. That’s why many friendships struggle and marriages fail. And our relationship with God is no different — we need to make every effort.
Like those in the parable who simply tried, we can knock and plead, but the door will not be opened.
The Heartbreak Of The Overconfident
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” (Luke 13:26-30)
The bunch of overconfident people in Jesus' parable had assumed they would be recognised. They would recall the times they ate and drank with the owner, and their presence while he preached. But they would be denied. The owner desired a relationship, not an acquaintance. And he had every right to open his home to only those he is really close to.
Do we place our confidence in these same trivialities? But we ate and drank the communion and we were present for the sermons. We may claim we know Jesus, but the question is, does Jesus know us? Do we treat Jesus like our friend and Saviour? Or do we treat him like an acquaintance?
Hopes will be dashed and hearts will be broken. The Overconfident will be overwhelmed.
Are we among the Overconfident?
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Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. He serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry of the Central Christian Church. He describes himself as “just a sinner who wants to get right with God”.