I know how I’ve always read this passage and the picture I get in my head every time I hear these words. It’s all about numbers. On one road there are lots of people, and it’s not the good road. Not many make it through the road that leads to life. To be honest, I’ve been frustrated by these words. I may even want them to be different.
Then I did some digging. I looked at the passage in the context of the Sermon on the Mount. Scholars talk about how this passage is the start of the conclusion to the Sermon — the sermon that talks about what God’s Kingdom looks like, what the life of a disciple of Christ looks like. What if this passage is doing a similar thing?
What if I think less about the numeric values in the passage and more about how it describes the life of a Kingdom person? What if Jesus was telling His followers what to expect? What if He was warning us that following Him will not be easy? It makes sense when you consider what His closest companions would go through in the coming days and in the first centuries of Christianity and even into our present day.
And then, at some point, it struck me: this is the road Jesus walked.
When you look at the life of Christ, especially His Passion and crucifixion, you see a road that, truly, only one could walk. His was not an easy road. It was a road on which even the Son of God asked if there might be a detour, another way, an easier way. Yet He walked it still. Alone. To death. And then to life.
It is a narrow road that we walk when we follow Jesus. We are called to give up so many things that are difficult. Sometimes those things are external. But sometimes the harder things are the internal ones — the thoughts and desires and expectations of ourselves and others that we may not even realize don’t fit with the Jesus life.
Though it is not the easy road, it is the road that leads to Life.
Though it is not the easy road, it is a road that has been walked before. And with Christ as our guide, humbly and gently calling us to follow each moment, we can walk it with hope.