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Tags: jesus | matthew | nathaniel

In a New Year, Let's Remember Easiest Way Not the Wisest

annunciation church in nazareth middle east

Interior of the Basilica of the Annunciation or Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, Mideast. (Gelia/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Friday, 20 January 2023 03:01 PM EST

In the "Sermon on the Mount," arguably Jesus Christ’s most famous teaching, He showed His followers that there are two paths available for everyone. He urged that we choose the narrow path and avoid the wider one. Why?

In keeping with His grace-fueled character, Jesus didn’t just point out the two paths, but He also shared characteristics of each one so that we can make an informed decision. Jesus wanted His followers to obtain an understanding of what lies ahead so that we can navigate the difficult terrain and ultimately make our way to eternal life:

 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it," Matthew 7:13-14.

Imagine That Moment on the Mountain

Was this sermon on the mount encouraging or cause for pause?

Can you imagine what it must have been like for the earliest followers of Jesus to hear this kind of message for the first time?

There’s a reason people traveled for weeks and miles despite hard conditions to hear Jesus speak. Word had spread of the rabbi's teachings, which were unlike anything heard before. I invite you to imagine it through the perspective of a man named Nathaniel.

Nathaniel sat with other travelers who had come from hundreds of miles away to hear the new teacher deliver His latest message.

As Nathaniel listened to Jesus deliver the verses above, he was reminded of the fork in the road he came to on his travels just a few days earlier.

As the road split before him and his fellow travelers, they paused. "Which way do we go?," asked one man.

"Well, that way looks rocky and overgrown by trees," said another, pointing to the path that went to the left. "Plus, it’s very narrow. That’s probably not the way to go. It doesn’t look like it’s been traveled for a long time."

Another man pointed to the path on the right. "Maybe it’s the other path. It certainly is wide, and you can tell lots of people have gone this way."

They both agreed to take the wide road to the right. Each step was uncertain.

Nathaniel had this sinking feeling that they might have taken the wrong path.

But they pushed forward, hoping something would let them know they were on the right track. The sun was getting lower in the sky and instead of seeing open fields, the travelers only found more road. It extended as far as they could see.

As night approached, the faint glow of light flickered from a building in the distance, just over the hill. The light grew as they approached it. It brightened even more against the pink sunset sky to illuminate an inn.

They climbed a few steps to enter the innkeeper’s room.

Nathaniel and one of his companions described to the innkeeper the mountain where the teacher was supposed to be. To their surprise, they had taken the wrong path. A half day’s journey in the wrong direction.

One way was overgrown with trees. The other way was clear and easier to walk. They had assumed that the clear way was the right way.

After all, many had traveled on it. But they soon found out they were wrong.

Consider the Wide Gate

Following his sermon on the Mount, Jesus paused.

The crowd was quiet.

No one said a word.

Nathaniel heard each breath as he inhaled and exhaled.

He felt a warmth as he considered the rabbi’s teachings.

Jesus walked down the mountainside and his disciples followed behind him.

The crowd sat in stillness for a long time.

Finally, people got up to begin the long journey back to where they came from. Nathaniel sat, calmly reflecting on the amazing words he had just heard.

The narrow way might be difficult. It’s natural to feel inclined to choose the wide, more easily trodden road, a path that many have traveled.

But consider the wide gate.

First, it’s a "wide" gate.

It’s a gate that’s easily seen and followed. Perhaps it’s attractive and draws people to it.

Jesus told us there are going to be many who go in this gate.

Remember, there are going to be only a few who choose the narrow gate to Heaven, while most, sadly, will opt for the destructive alternative.

We’re confronted every day with trivial decisions about what we might wear or eat, to the more important choices about who we’ll marry or which career we’ll pursue.

And, the greatest of all decisions, we face the spiritual decisions that affect our eternity.

When was the last time you paused to let Jesus’ powerful illustrations from the "Sermon on the Mount" permeate your heart?

It’s easy to allow our natural inclinations to dictate our faith, but Jesus told us to do exactly the opposite. Consider the narrow way that leads to eternal life.

Kel Mitchell is a two-time Emmy Award-nominated actor, producer, comedian, and youth pastor from Chicago, Illinois. He is well-known for his big break on Nickelodeon’s award-winning, "All That," the network's longest-running live-action series, which he also executive produced. Recently, Pastor Mitchell voiced Pray.com’s "Sermon on the Mount" Bedtime Bible Stories audio, from which this article was adapted.

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

It’s easy to allow our natural inclinations to dictate our faith, but Jesus told us to do exactly the opposite. Consider the narrow way that leads to eternal life.
jesus, matthew, nathaniel
Friday, 20 January 2023 03:01 PM
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