“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. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
Today our passage has a rather different promise than we are most used to considering. It is a promise about the effect and outcome of choices we make. This passage is part of the Sermon on the Mount which was the first recorded extensive discourse Jesus gave his disciples and those following Him. If we are going to live as disciples of Jesus, it is important to remember that all moral things are difficult. Our lives as Christians are gloriously difficult, by the grace of God the difficulty doesn’t make us faint. Rather the difficulty strengthens us and gives us what is necessary to overcome. The promise we have is that facing the way that is hard takes practice. Our strength comes through the practice of doing what is right, that is righteous. If once we start on the basis of His Redemption to do what He commands, we find that we can do it. When we fail, it is because we have not practiced. Oswald Chambers said about this; “Thank God He does give us difficult things to do! His salvation is a glad thing, but it is also a heroic, holy thing.”*
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year, (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986).
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11 (ESV)
If we were to look back two verses we find that the Apostle Paul was confirming that all who have God’s Spirit dwelling in them are no longer bound like a slave to their old life of desires and actions of the flesh (the natural man). We know that when Jesus Christ rose from the dead it was a marvelous miracle. It was something that only God could do. It was the very action that gives us new and eternal life. Our verse today reminds us that God’s power is available to us even while we’re living here on earth in our earthly bodies. Yes, God has made this power available to us through the Holy Spirit. The things that we could never do in our own strength we can do by His Holy Spirit power. So when we find it difficult to do God’s will in specific instances we can trust God through His indwelling Holy Spirit to enable us to do it. God does this for us using the same marvelous power that raised Christ from the dead. Since we have the Spirit dwelling in us we are assured us of this promise.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” – John 5:39-40 (NASB)
When think about it, the Bible we have in our home has an important purpose. It is more important than what many realize. Our verse for today records the words of Jesus as He was challenging the “experts” of the time. They fancied themselves as proficient in the Holy Scriptures, the Law and the Prophets. The Jewish religious leaders studied the Old Testament with great diligence. They believed that by comprehending the words of the text, one would gain a share in the world to come. Knowing the Law was knowing eternal life with God. Jesus says, not so much if you reject what the Scriptures say about Me. Many people today also think Bible study is an end in itself rather than a way to understand the knowledge of God. Today, much like in that time, a veil is over the minds of those who presume to be Biblical scholars and experts in theology. Preferring their own way by means of their “reasoning” they fail to understand what God’s Word says. Our promise today is: Our Bible lacks nothing as it contains all God wants us to know about Him, His will, and His eternal plan for us.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:6-7 (ESV)
Our promise today is pure, and powerful. For all who hope to live in heaven after our time on earth is over, Jesus is the only Way there. There are no options to having faith in Jesus the Christ. Jesus is speaking to His disciples about His death and departure and they still do not understand. Jesus tells them He is going to be leaving them but one day He will return for them. “You know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:4) But Thomas says, “No, Lord we don’t know where you are going, how do you expect us to know the way?” Thomas needed to understand that “The Way” was not a pathway or route to heaven but the means to receive eternal life and a reservation e in heaven, then these words make sense. Jesus the Son of God and God the Father; – to know one, is to know the other and The Way. No pretense, no self-effort, no good enough, no buying our way; it is only in believing Jesus, His sacrifice and resurrection. If you know Jesus as Savior and Lord, you know God the Father, you know The Way.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” – John 11:25-26 (ESV)
This passage records Jesus’ lesson on life, death, and resurrection. Lazarus, a friend died and was in the tomb for four days. Jesus hearing Lazarus was near death delayed going to Bethany. By the time He and is disciples arrive it is too late – at least according to Martha first and Mary later. Their home was now a house of mourning. Jesus missed his opportunity to save Lazarus from this death. Both Mary and Martha tell Jesus that their brother would not have died if Jesus had been there. Jesus promises that Lazarus will rise again. Martha agrees believing Jesus is talking about eventual resurrection of all believers. Jesus states that He is Himself The Resurrection and The Life. “Do you believe this?” He asks Martha. Yes, she confirms her faith that Jesus is the Christ. These awesome promises are for us⸺Now!. They cause immense joy to erupt within our hearts and banish all fear of death. We who believe in Christ, physical death is only temporary, we are alive spiritually in Christ. This is the promise of eternal life that is ours after our bodies die. And, we are promised new bodies like unto Christ’s resurrection body.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. – John 10:11 (ESV)
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. – John 10:14-15 (ESV)
Sheep were very important for those who lived in Israel at the time of Christ and for centuries before Christ. More than a millennium before Jesus Christ, David, a shepherd, wrote “The Lord is My Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1) It was a natural illustration that Jesus used when He said twice “I Am the Good Shepherd,” as recorded in John 10. For Jesus, sheep and the tending of sheep typified His life and purpose. Those listening to Jesus knew about the care required for a flock of sheep. Christ says He is THE good Shepherd. Some were careless in their duty, neglecting their flock when it was in danger and threatened. Bad practices spring from bad principles. The Lord Jesus had no bad principles. He is sure of His own because the chosen have put their trust in Him. This is a demonstration of the grace of Christ. None of us could demand Jesus do what He did when He willingly chose to be our sacrifice. He laid down His life for our redemption and salvation. He offered himself to be our Savior even when we were lost in our sin of rebellion.
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:9-10 (ESV)
It is this chapter Jesus uses the tending of sheep by a shepherd and compares that practice to His purpose and plan for our lives. One of the most important responsibilities is protection of the flock. The pens or sheep folds that kept sheep safe were often circular with low walls and only one opening. The opening did not always have a gate and the Shepherd would lay across the opening as a door keeping the sheep inside and safe. Thieves were a threat and when the shepherd was not doing their job they would be a danger. Christ says He is the Door in the fold where He keeps us, His church. What greater security does the church of God have? Our Lord Jesus is between us and all enemies and threats that seek to destroy us? Those who seek to become a part of God’s flock must come into the family by the only way, Jesus Christ. By faith in him as our Mediator between God and man. We also have precious promises given to us who observe His directions. He promises us security and life; and all we need for an abundant life in Christ.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12 (ESV)
If we could travel through time and found ourselves in the past, the time of Genesis 1:1, we would not be able to see anything at all. The earth was formless with nothing but deep darkness covering it. It was the Son of God, Creator of all things* who created light by speaking it into existence and separated the light from the darkness. If we understand this we’ll recognize that Jesus Christ, who spoke the promises in this verse for today, is the one and same Son of God who created all including light for the world. Christ is the Light of the world. God is light, and Christ is the visible image of God. One sun enlightens the whole world; so does one Christ, and there needs to be no more. What a dark dungeon would be the world without our sun! So would life be be without Jesus, by whom light came into the world. Those who follow Christ shall not walk in darkness. We shall are not left without THE TRUTHS necessary to keep us from destructive the path and provide directions in the way necessary to keep them from condemning sin.
*(John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-17)
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. – John 6:35 (NASB)
The Gospel of John records seven occasions of Jesus declaring His program and who He is with “I AM” statements. He selectively connects some of these claims to signs authenticating His claims. In today’s passage Christ announces, “I Am the Bread of Life.” It follows after the feeding of more than 5000 people from only five small loaves and two fish. They clamored for more signs. For them it was all about their physical needs but Jesus knows their need is spiritual. The miracle of manna provided in the wilderness, Jesus told them it came from His Father, not Moses. The bread Jesus offers is Himself and He too comes from The Father in heaven. The bread which he offers is eternal life to those who believe. The only way to get that bread was to believe what Jesus said and why He came to earth. “Lord, give us this bread” they asked. “I AM the bread of life,” Jesus replied. “My promise is to all who come to Me will receive God’s provision of life and won’t be spiritually hungry or thirsty again.” If you have not, believe Jesus now and receive an abundant and fulfilled spiritual life today.
“Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” – Philippians 1:20b-21 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul dedicated his life to work for the exaltation of Jesus Christ from the moment of his conversion to believe Jesus was the promised Messiah. Another version uses the word ‘magnified’ to describe Paul’s main purpose – the glorification of Christ. So Paul could say “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” After years as a prisoner in Rome, his appeal was still pending before Caesar, he was at a fork on the road in the journey of his life. On one hand, he knew he could be martyred. He was ready for that. Or, he might gain his freedom (we don’t know the details). He did not fear martyrdom and saw benefit for others if he remained. Paul declared in either outcome, dying or living, Christ would be magnified. Both of these options, continuing to live for Christ, or gaining his access to glory through dying would result in Christ being glorified. This is to what God calls us in our lives. As believers we are promised that dying is a glorious thing, and remaining alive on earth is opportunity to bring glory to Christ through our obedience and service. It is a win-win situation.