Narrowed Ways

Read: Matthew 7

‌‌🔎 Focus

‌“Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to , and there are few who find it.” —Matthew 7:13-14 (NRSVue)

‌‌✟ Devotion

‌Depending on the publisher (including online ones), much of Matthew 7 is broken into sections. This is instead of the long that it is (including the chapters themselves). Our focus verse (similar to Luke 13:23-30) is often popped out all on its own, leading us to conclude that it stands alone.

‌This chapter is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The Sermon on the Mount remains challenging to this day. As such, there are not sections that one can tear out separately from the .

‌All too often, the focus verses become solely about doing the right thing and living the right life. I’ve heard sermons preached, and I’ve preached them. However, when we put the focus passage in its context (within the Sermon on the Mount), it gets a bit harder (even arguably impossible) to think that way.

‌If we look at just the verse before:

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 7:12 (NRSVue)

‌…and the verse after:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Matthew 7:15 (NRSVue)

…perhaps our would .

‌What if, instead of being a standalone set of verses about narrow gates and hard roads, they were the transition verses between treating others as you’d have them treat you and looking out for false prophets?

‌Many of us have inherited a high view of the (which we, I believe, should have). However, a high view of the Scriptures is, in many circles, a rigid view of the Scriptures, which does not allow for setting aside of traditions, such as looking at the narrow gate and hard road verses in isolation from the rest of Jesus’ words that Matthew has happening during a single event.

‌🤔 Reflection

‌In our expanded context of Matthew 7:12-15, we are presented with the Law, the prophets, and the false prophets. How might verse 12 impact your understanding of verse 15, when taken together? How does this affect your thinking about verses 13–14?

‌‌⏏️ Act

‌As you read the Scriptures, remember that while the Books are valid separations, chapters (except for the Psalms and Proverbs) and verses are not the original way the Scriptures were presented. Instead of defaulting to chapter, verse, and heading, read the words, and see what that does to change how you read and what you read.

‌🙏 Prayer

‌Jesus, you have the of eternal life. Let us remember with honor and dignity that through you all of was made, that words do mean much, especially yours. , guide our reading of the Scriptures that we are transformed from the inside out. God, forgive us when the tools that we deem to help us, interfere with what you have to say to us today. Amen.

Image courtesy of Wieland Teixeira