Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. (Matthew 7:13–14)
Here is the appeal to which Jesus has been moving through the whole sermon. He gives the call to decide now about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation. The way to life is on God’s terms alone; the way to damnation is on any terms a person wants, because every way but God’s leads to the same fate.
Jesus has been giving God’s standards throughout the sermon, standards that are holy and perfect and that are diametrically opposed to the self-righteous, self-sufficient, and hypocritical standards of man-typified by those of the scribes and Pharisees. He has shown what His kingdom is like and what its people are like-and are not like. Now He presents the choice of entering the kingdom or not. Here the Lord focuses on the inevitable decision that every person must make, the crossroads where he must decide on the gate he will enter and the way he will go.
Our lives are filled with decisions-what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do, what to say, what to buy, whom to marry, what career to follow, and on and on. Many decisions are trivial and insignificant, and some are essential and life-changing. The most critical of all is our decision about Jesus Christ and His kingdom. That is the ultimate choice that determines our eternal destiny. It is that decision that Jesus here calls men to make.
In perfect harmony with His absolute sovereignty, God has always allowed men to choose Him or not, and He has always pleaded with them to decide for Him or face the consequences of a choice against Him. Since mankind turned their backs on Him in the Fall, God has bent every effort and spared no cost in wooing His creatures back to Himself. He has provided and shown the way, leaving nothing to man but the choice. God made His choice by providing the way of redemption. The choice is now man’s.
While Israel was in the wilderness the Lord instructed Moses to tell the people, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him” (Deut. 30:19–20).
After Israel came into the Promised Land, Joshua confronted the people again with a choice: of continuing to serve the Egyptian and Canaanite gods they had adopted or of turning to the Lord who had delivered them from Egypt and given them the land promised to Abraham. “Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve,” Joshua pleaded (Josh. 24:13–15).
On Mount Carmel the prophet Elijah asked the people of Israel, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). The Lord commanded Jeremiah to set the choice again before His people: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death’ ” (Jer. 21:8).
Even the law given through Moses, though divine, was not a means of salvation but rather a means of showing man’s need for salvation. “By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight,” Paul explains; “for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). The law came to show us our sinfulness and guilt before God, and to show us that we are incapable in ourselves of keeping God’s perfect law.
From here through the rest of the sermon (vv. 13–27) Jesus repeatedly points out two things: the necessity of choosing whether to follow God or not, and the fact that the choices are two and only two. There are two gates, the narrow and the wide; two ways, the narrow and the broad; two destinations, life and destruction; two groups, the few and the many; two kinds of trees, the good and the bad, which produce two kinds of fruit, the good and the bad; two kinds of people who profess faith in Jesus Christ, the sincere and the false; two kinds of builders, the wise and the foolish; two foundations, the rock and the sand; and two houses, the secure and the insecure. In all preaching there must be the demand for a verdict. Jesus makes the choice crystal clear.
EDIT: This is a direct quote from John MacArthur’s commentary that can be read by CLICKING HERE. Click on “Read Commentary.”