Why is the Way Narrow?

It’s been said that our theology affects everything we believe about God, and how and why He interacts with us as His creation. In fact, there’s probably nothing more important to guiding, not only how we see God, but how we think and act in every area of our lives. As we approach Easter, I wanted to focus in on our theology about the Cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

My question today is, why did Jesus say the way is narrow?

13 Enter through the narrow gate because the wide gate and broad path is the way that leads to destruction—nearly everyone chooses that crowded road! 14 The narrow gate and the difficult way leads to eternal life—so few even find it! (Matt.7:13-14 TPT)

The traditional (Western) answer is, because only Jesus could take our sins away since He was the only pure and innocent sacrifice that could satisfy God.

This answer isn’t wrong, it just misses the point. Jesus was indeed a propitiation for sins. We have forgiveness because He shed His blood for us, but that was a means to a much more wonderful end. If we left the gospel story here, we would be like many other religions. A sacrifice to appease God and make us right with him.

We also would be no better than a pardoned criminal, but God made us a new creation which means we’re an entirely unprecedented species on the earth!

Before we get to what I think He does mean, let’s think about what He’s saying.

Jesus is saying that most people follow the wrong road. Why is that? Probably because everyone else is following it! We have a tendency to follow people, popular opinion, our culture, rather than a relationship with God.

People who follow the crowd rarely search beyond what everyone else is doing. But history has shown that the crowd is almost always wrong. Its perception sinks to the level of the lowest common denominator.

The same is true with religion. We invented religion in the Garden, hiding behind fig leaves because of fear, so we appease the gods with our virgin sacrifices so he (or she) won’t burn our village. Even the Christian version isn’t much different, and it’s certainly not a unique way. I would say this is the broadest way known in world religions.

Why do so few find what Jesus is talking about? Personally, I think because most people prefer religious ritual to relationship, and they don’t want to get burned. Their theology is rooted in fear of punishment rather than what God is actually offering them. But fear of punishment can have no place in what God is offering us because it cannot exist in His love.

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:18 NIV)

No, if this “way” is going to be unique and “narrow,” Jesus must be talking about something altogether different than religious sacrifice or appeasement. Something much more wonderful!

The Narrow Way

Let me put what I believe about it this way: What makes Christ the narrow way is not so much what He did for us on the Cross, or even what He did as us…but what He did TO us. I will briefly tease that out here…

First, Jesus, with His incarnation, solves a problem for us relating to God. The fact is, we could never know God as He is—because He’s….God….and we’re…not. This is what John tells us when he says “no one has ever seen God” (John 1:18). But now we can know God because God became one of us (John 1:14).

But that’s not the whole Gospel. It’s still a means to a greater end.

Second, Jesus, an innocent Man, takes upon Himself the sin of the world on the cross. We have forgiveness of sin because He shed His blood for us (Eph.1:7).

But that’s not the whole Gospel. It’s still a means to a greater end.

Third, when Jesus died and was buried, our sin was buried with Him forever! When Christ died, we died! (Rom.6:4)

But that’s still not the whole Gospel. It’s still a means to a greater end.

Fourth, when God raised Jesus from the dead, WE were raised with Him! Now, we getting to why Jesus did what He did!

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6 NIV)

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Col.3:3 NIV)

So, we can conclude that the way is narrow because the “way” is in a Person—Jesus Christ. We must understand here that Jesus’ teaching is not the “narrow gate”; Jesus IS the gate!

9 I am the Gateway. To enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction. (John 10:9 TPT*).

This is important, because the only way we human beings can share in God’s Trinitarian life is if there is a human being in the Trinity. And that’s just what God did! Just like this nesting doll, God placed you and me INSIDE of Christ, who is now seated at His right hand in heaven!

Do you see it yet?

Otherwise, we’re forever separated from God—outside looking in—like every other religion on the earth.

The way is not “narrow” because it’s the only true religion. To quote Robert Capon, it’s “the announcement of the END of religion.” Religion is about us inviting God into our lives; the “narrow way” is about God inviting us into His life! Amen.

6 Jesus explained, I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father except through union with me. To know me is to know my Father too. (John 14:6 TPT*)

* All emphasis added.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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9 Responses to Why is the Way Narrow?

  1. Steve Sawyer says:


  2. Ah interesting, Mel! I’ve been pondering something very similar about that narrow gate myself. Sometimes I think the enemy is much like a bureaucrat, so you have these vast, sweeping generalizations, this wide gate that applies to large groups of people and is devoid of all common sense. It happens in secularism, religion, legalism. God is not like that, He deals with us as individuals, and personalizes it all, as in a relationship.

    My dad used to say “shrink your world,” as in focus on the small picture, the narrow gate, and not on this vast ocean in front of you. We don’t really heal by passing a law or getting congress to write a policy or mandating that everything must be written in number two pencil and forcing that on the rest of the population. To heal properly you have to narrow your focus and enter into a relationship. I really like what you said about the Russian dolls and how Jesus Himself is the narrow gate. It’s kind of like Martha and Mary and how Jesus tells Martha she is worried about many things, but only one thing is important. And of course, if we were all just focused on Jesus and our own relationship with Him, the world would look way different than it does.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Amen, IB. Well said. Another analogy, we could also look at Jesus being the “way” as the birth canal to His Church. We were born out of His wounded side on the Cross. Every person must go through this birth canal to become a son or daughter of God and enter into God’s own life, which is eternal life (John 17:3).

      You said: “We don’t really heal by passing a law or getting congress to write a policy or mandating that everything must be written in number two pencil and forcing that on the rest of the population. To heal properly you have to narrow your focus and enter into a relationship.”

      Exactly. Christians won’t change the world by legislating morality, trying to make everybody else behave. We must change ourselves first. When people change, the culture changes. As Jordan Peterson said: “Take responsibility for your own life. Don’t worry about the other problems—fix your own first. If everyone did this, many society-level problems would be solved.” Of course, he was only parroting what Jesus said in Matthew 7 when He told us to take the log out of our own eye first. Not to mention, this concept is quite the opposite of the SJW movement. We all need to stop eating from the wrong Tree. 🙂

    • Citizen Tom says:

      In John 21, when Peter starts worrying about John, Jesus responded emphatically.

      John 21:22 New American Standard Bible

      22 Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”

      We are supposed to love each other, but God saves each of us personally.

  3. SLIMJIM says:

    The Personal Narrow changes everything; it becomes why WE won’t come to Him personally, and shifts the blame…

  4. Pingback: God’s Eternal Love Story | In My Father's House

  5. Pingback: The gateway to authentic living | In My Father's House

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