Prepare to Listen. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 7:13-23
13Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. 14For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus you will know them by their fruits. 21‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord”, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?” 23Then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.”
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” In this age of mega-churches, this verse seems shocking. Surely Jesus didn’t mean “there are few who find it”? But, if we’ve paid attention to Jesus’ teaching in this Sermon, we’ll know that his way is, as Bonhoeffer states, “unutterably hard, and at every moment we are in danger from straying from it.”
That danger is so real that Jesus gave two warnings. First, beware of false prophets. They always fool us when we fail to think and instead, rely on our feelings. The wide easy way feels right so we take it and follow a false prophet. Reliance on feelings justifies, we assume, our behavior. Until we take a 2nd gaze that sees the false prophet’s fruit. If it doesn’t conform to Jesus’ narrow way, encourage others to be more Christ-like and less self-centered, and if it produces a crop of lies, deceit, immorality, greed, it’s false. Beware, says Jesus.
His second warning doesn’t make it easy to tell the false from the true. There will be many who call Jesus Lord, and claim to do good stuff in Jesus’ name, but will hear him say, “I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.” The way is narrow and, as Wright maintains, “You need to concentrate, to take note of danger, to realize that you can’t presume on anything. You’ve got to keep your wits about you.”
How much do you really want Jesus’ narrow way that is travelled by few?
Respond in Prayer
Your way requires concentration and thinking, Lord so that I discern the false from the true. Keep my mind alert and give me wisdom to walk your way, not the popular way. Amen.
Live Obediently. Beware and think.
 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company. 1978, p. 170.
 For explanation see: https://www.storymakerlife.com/a-second-gaze.html
 Wright, N. T. Matthew for Everyone Part 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. 2004, p. 75.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.