Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference

Robert Frost 1915

This famous poem presents an interesting view of how choices that one must make in life. At times we are presented with two options and we must decide which path we will journey down, the choice of which may have lifelong impact. In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus presents to his audience a choice of eternal significance – one that each of us will be faced with at some point in our lifetime. The decision that we make will set our feet upon the path to either life or destruction.

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 sets about to describe the two possible choices that everyone has, and the choice is a universal one. Everyone who has ever lived, is currently alive, or will be born in the future will ultimately be faced by this choice. Which path are we going to take?

The statement at the beginning of verse 13 clearly shows what Jesus wants us to do and he states it in the form of a command. Enter. This term has been used previously in the Sermon on the Mount back in 5:20 where he says, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” And he will use the same term again later in 7:21, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Both of those references have a negative impact in mind and inform the hearer that they will be barred from the kingdom of heaven unless certain conditions are met. In this passage though Jesus commands that we enter specifically by the narrow gate, in contrast with the wide gate.

The description of the wide gate is such that at first it seems rather appealing – the entrance is broad and allows for the most people to travel upon it. The way is easy upon our feet as we walk along the path, and there are many other travelers upon this road. From our earthly, created, understanding this would seem to be the right direction to travel. There is the advantage of safety in numbers, there is plenty of room for everyone, and very little is required of those that walk upon this path. This appeals to us for we are, after-all, human and we are constantly seeking ways for our lives to filled with comfort and ease. The problem though is not in the path, but rather in the destination. This easy road, this wide gate, leads ultimately to destruction.

This of course should shock us into action! The attentive hearer should reflect upon these words and tremble in fear at the direction that their life is headed. Though this life may be full of ease and comfort in the here and now in the end awaits an eternal consequence. If though this path is not the one upon which we should tread, then which gate should we be looking for? How can I enter through the gate that leads to life?

Thankfully Jesus does not leave us to wonder but in verse 14 explains the road we should be looking toward. In contrast with the previous descriptions the road that leads to life is one that is narrow. This is a difficult thing for us to imagine as we are so oft to avoid a road that we can scarcely travel upon. Furthermore he describes that this path will be filled with hardship and difficult steps. Imagine if we could a narrow mountain trail – to either side is brush and thick trees such that there is barely room for us to move. As if such a path would not be difficult enough to navigate it is further filled with potholes, rocks, snags, snares, and all manner of devices that complicate taking another step. This is not the path that we would naturally travel upon, though some are want to do so for recreation (the metaphor can only be stretched so far). Thus it is that Jesus commands that we choose such a path because in doing so it leads to life! How then do we enter into such a path?

It is here that we must expand our context in order to more fully understand what Jesus is teaching and thankfully he has done so in the other Gospel accounts. In John 10 we have recorded Jesus’ teaching concerning being the good shepherd; sadly though the crowd did not understand the meaning of the text and so he sought to explain it for them. In verse 9 he says: “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Jesus says that it is himself that is the door into the secure pasture, and it is through him that one must enter in order to reach that safe place. Yet there is another passage in John that further expounds upon this concept and also reinforces the uniqueness of the narrow path.

In John 14 we find Jesus comforting his disciples as he prepares for his eminent death. This of course is a very traumatic time for the disciples who are asking for reassure that all will be well. Thomas asks Jesus where he is going and how they can know the way to follow him. Jesus responds in verse 6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This verse proves to be a stumbling to many upon the wide path because of the exclusive nature of Jesus’ claim, and he is not subtle in his proclamation. No one comes to the Father but through Jesus. Buddha will not bring one to God the Father; Mohammad is not the way; Gandhi, for all the amazing peaceful work he did, does not provide life to those who follow him. It is only, 100% through Jesus Christ that one can have truth, and life. Surely there is no more narrow a path than that of Jesus! Placing our faith, our hope, our trust, in Jesus, and him alone, gives us life.

So the choice before each and every person is the choice of which path are we going to set our feet upon? We can choose the path of least resistance and take the wide and easy path, but the end is only eternal death. Or we can choose to follow after Jesus, and while life now will be filled with pain and suffering, in the end is life eternal? Which path will you take?

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