Texts like this are why people don’t want to write for the Lenten Reader. Who wants to tackle the issue of God seemingly turning people away? This is the kind of passage that makes me pause to think, “Am I going to hear the words ‘I don’t know where you come from, go away?’” In reality, that is not fruitful thinking. It’s the kind of thinking Jesus is directing His listener away from. Instead He is encouraging them to “strive to enter through the narrow door”. And while many will try and fail, the end of the passage speaks of people coming from all over—north, south, east, and west—to eat in the kingdom of God.
Verse 30 is key to understanding this passage: “Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Many who think themselves first hold onto more than will fit through the narrow door—success, money, pride, position, and power—keep these first-place-holders from squeezing through the small opening. It is not true that the kingdom is not wide and welcoming, it is true that there is much to lay down before entering.
Following Jesus is going to cost you. Luke repeatedly makes this clear. The narrow door is just one image that conveys the cost of discipleship. In, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes, “Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”
Lord, Jesus Christ,
Lenten Reader 2018
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