Jesus was asked whether there would only be a few people who would be saved from God’s wrath and judgment. I think the people had begun to understand that Jesus was speaking of different conditions for salvation than what they had understood previously from their teachers.
The Israelites had always been known as God’s people. God had chosen Abraham and then Isaac and Jacob, that through them God’s blessing would be passed down to all people. In fact, it would be through them that Jesus would come, that the Messiah who would save his people would be revealed.
Now, though, I think the people are understanding that Jesus is teaching a different way. He isn’t just talking about nationality. He isn’t talking about ancestry. He is calling the people to repentance, to holiness, to salvation that can only be found in the Kingdom of God, by way of the King. And there is only one King, King Jesus.
As they ask Jesus about salvation, they ask whether many will be saved or only a few. Jesus says that they must enter through the narrow door to come into the Kingdom of God. So he answers them clearly: Not everyone will come in. Only a few. And if we play out the metaphor, Jesus himself is the narrow door. He is the one who will allow the people entrance into the Kingdom.
But Jesus also goes further and says that there is one who will close the door while many will be left outside. And what is more, there are people who will come from every direction – from the north, the south, the east, and the west, who will take their place at the banquet table, at the feast in the Kingdom. He is saying that there are people from everywhere who will enter the Kingdom because they have come through him, they have come through Jesus. Not just Jews, but there will be people from everywhere. Yes, Gentiles too. People from all nations, and in fact the last – the Gentiles who hadn’t been chosen before now – will be first, and the first – the Jews who had been God’s people before now – would be last.
Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’
“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”Luke 13:23-30
Like the Jews in their day, we must strive to enter through the narrow door to enter the Kingdom of God. We must go toward it and go in. We must leave everything to come through that door. Otherwise, we will be left outside where there is weeping, where there is gnashing of teeth. Not only do we not want what is outside, we will agonize over it. Let us not be caught there.
But instead, let us enter with the King. Let’s go into the Kingdom to the banquet hall and eat with those who celebrate Jesus as the King in his Kingdom. Let us not just know of him but truly know him, King Jesus.