Check out Blue Collar Meditation for background.
Here is the first post in the series.
Here is the second post in the series.
Having a pretty good idea what I was confused about, I went in to find how other scriptures would relate to this one. The Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge is a fun little tool. I probably spent 4 hours digging through it, writing down notes about each linked verse. Imagine my ironic delight when I found out that I could have gotten it all from the web in 2 clicks.
The TSK gives about 60 passages related to the different phrases in these two verses. Seeing them all was a fun little journey. (Some of it was done sitting on my front porch, handing out candy to trick or treaters. Pretty cool.) Remember that I was seeking verses that reinforced the strong statements of Jesus here.
Here are the 8 that seemed like they might relate:
Jn 10:9 - I am the Door. Door/Gate? OK. The strait gate should probably be capitalized as "Strait Gate".
Jn 14:6 - I am the Way. And cap the Narrow Way, too.
I Jn 5:19 - and we know we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. WOW! John was NOT afraid to speak confidently.
Prov 25:25 - There is a way that seems right to a man... Obviously, this is the wide way, but the thing that grabs me is that it seems right to this man. He is not picking courses out of a desire to sin. He is deceived but trying to choose rightly.
I Pe 4:17&18 - Judgement begins at the house of God. In keeping with my questions about myself being nervous, the house of God is not exempt from something.
Is 30:21 - You shall hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the Way" This is encouraging!
Matt 20:16 - So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen. So much for encouraging! None of this is surprising, but it is heavy. Many who are called to God believe that they have found Him. They see a way that seems right to them, and even are seeking the Way, but somehow they find the wrong gate, and pass along a broad way to destruction.
Rom 9:27-29, 32 - Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved ... Because [they sought it] not by faith. How frightening is this?! I fear that the same judgement must apply to the church as well. Peter seems to say so in so many words. How many people faithfully gracing our pews are on the wrong pah?
The one thing that I was sure of at this point is that Jesus did not sell Himself short. Sometimes we want a person to believe, so we simplify things to make it easy for him to believe in Jesus. Jesus had no such concern, as near as I can tell. He laid it on the line from day 1.
Next I sought out verses that seemed to contradict Jesus's words about the Strait Gate, verses that seemed to make it sound like Christ would save anyone.
Jn 3:16 - Whosoever believeth on Him...
I Jn 2:2 - And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.
Jn 1:29 - Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
II Cor 5:19 - To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them
And the biggie
Rom 10:13 - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved
Could all these people who went through the wide gate, and who traveled the broad way have failed to call on the Name of the Lord? How many of them are in our churches? How could they find out that that they were wrong? What could they do that would be right? What is the missing step?
At this point, let me remind you of the exercise. Answering the questions is not the exercise. They can all be answered with the verses above. Some people are foreknown by God, and some are not. Some believe, and the ones who believe are saved. Some people choose to make their own way to God, and resist the way of the cross.
As I'm asking these questions, all those answers spring to mind - maybe a little too quickly. They are really not answers to me any more. They are assumptions, so I struggle to get past them, and find fresh thoughts about the infinite God. It's like an artist doing a still-life. He's painted an apple before, but this time he's trying to find just where the shading changes, and just how to show that out-of-round spot at the top.
That can be hard to remember.
I spent several days on this. I pushed myself to lay down my assumptions, and to challenge verses that I had memorized decades ago. I wanted to see this Strait Gate in a new way.
And it happened for me. Is 50:10&11 opened it all up in a new way.
That's where I'll pick up next time.