Matthew 7:13-14 (ANIV)
13 [Jesus said] “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.”
TIME OF DAY:
Unspecified in the Bible: daytime.
The light for this scene mainly comes from the right.
Various unnamed people, the vast majority walking towards the flame filled cave on the left. Five people walking up the winding path towards heaven, represented by the pale slit in the sky, atop the winding road.
Matthew chapters 05:01–08:01 is called “the Sermon on the Mount” because Jesus gave it on a hillside near Capernaum, which was a city on the north coast of the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret.) This sermon probably covered several days of preaching, if not more & the content was probably repeated (at least in part) by Jesus many times, as the message contained in the sermon is central to the gospel message.
There are two versions of this scene, the previous one (which just has the crowds of people in it) & the one above entitled “Matthew 07 – Narrow & wide road – Distractions” which has various additional items & objects included.
This scene was quite harrowing to produce, as I contemplated the final destination of all the people on the left of the picture: Hell. Verse 13 states that “many enter through it” – I have drawn the many.
The few are the five figures making their way up the curving pathway towards the light in the sky, which is representative of Heaven.
There are two differences between the previous version of this scene (Matthew 07 – Narrow & wide road) & the one above (Matthew 07 – Narrow & wide road – Distractions):
01) Various items & objects in the left foreground.
02) Two figures, apparently standing above the crowds in the middle of the scene.
I’ll explain the inclusion of each below.
01) Various items & objects in the left foreground.
Here is a close-up of the items so that you can see them more clearly:
Close-up of modern objects & things which can distract us from what’s really important: Jesus.
I have included these items as representations of the sorts of things which can dominate our attention in the modern age. The items include: money (bank notes), technology & entertainment (TV, computers, mobile phone, games consoles, & the pornographic magazine), high value goods (the sports car in my picture represents that) & drugs (the syringe, candle, foil, spoon, alcohol, cigarettes, etc).
The money (which I modeled on American dollars) represents our fanatical pursuit of wealth. This is one of the biggest distractions to modern mankind. As Jesus pointed out in Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” *4 It certainly seems as if we seek after money a great deal, especially in the western world, but probably the world over. It isn’t that money in itself is evil, but many people would agree with the Apostle Paul’s assessment (in 1 Timothy 6:10) “For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs.” The problem for us comes when striving for money is at odds with our generosity, kindness, compassion, & desire to help other people, not to mention when our pursuit of it takes us away from God & the pursuit of His will in our lives.
Technology & entertainment The Computer, screen & keyboard represent all forms of computer-based technology (including all games consoles), which also includes our rampant desire for the internet. The mobile phone (at the bottom of the stack of items) is indicative of our insatiable desire to have the latest gadget, particularly communications technology. We seem to love to be “plugged in” to everything these days!
Our modern society seems to be obsessed with sex, which is why I have included a pornographic glossy magazine among the items in the bottom left of the scene. That represents our obsession with sex, in all its forms, not just printed ones. Sex is used to sell us all sorts of products, all day long. Of itself sex is not a problem. God invented it & we know from Genesis 2 that He intended it to be the most intimate union of a man & a woman in the mutually edifying condition of marriage. The problem comes when we don’t keep sex for marriage, but pursue it outside of it. There is a whole host of problems & difficulties waiting for us when we do that. Sex is represented in my picture by the magazine, but also by the two figures standing above the crowds of people in the centre of the picture. See below for explanation about them.
There are various references in the Bible which make it pretty clear what sort of people will & won’t be able to get into heaven. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 *7 provides a list of those characteristics who won’t which includes:
the unrighteous, wrongdoers, the impure and immoral, idolaters, adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers. Galatians 5:19-21 *8 provides a similar list of human characteristics & habits which will exclude us from heaven: immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. These aren’t exhaustive list, but we get the general idea of acceptable & unacceptable behaviour to God.
High value goods The model car represents many people’s obsession with expensive items like cars, houses, holidays, etc. The car has undoubtedly brought us great autonomy & opportunity, but as with everything else, greed for more expensive, faster, sleeker cars, houses, etc is what drives consumerism & the western materialist society.
Drugs The word “drug” is a very wide meaning, not necessarily a bad one either! I suppose I am thinking of so called “recreational drugs”. Certainly the two I think of most readily are alcohol (represented in my picture by a Jack Daniels whiskey bottle) & cigarettes, a packet of which is at the base of the pile of items. You could argue that the bottle & cigarettes are other forms of entertainment; I guess it all depends how you define that word too!
I have included a syringe, candle, foil & spoon containing a pile of brown stuff. These are all indicative of “hard” drugs – things like cocaine & heroin. Hopefully few people would argue that these, when not used in medically responsible ways have brought a great deal of harm to our society.
I’m sure there are lots of other items & products I could have illustrated in this picture, but I am only trying to represent the common ones which, when mis-used by us, cause us a great deal of harm. But the primary purpose of including them at all, is to illustrate the large variety of ways & means in which we human beings become ensnared in things, which do not lead us to the righteous (right standing) which God wants us to enjoy. Indeed, by concentrating our minds & chasing after many of the items I’ve mentioned (& many more I haven’t!), we exclude ourselves from a proper relationship with God, & all the benefits we could have from that connection.
But there is hope! Whilst there is the breath of life still within us, we have the chance to let go of our obsessive greed & craving for more, & have the chance to re-direct our steps away from the road that lead to Hell, & join the few who are heading for Heaven. If you hear the Lord’s voice calling after you to this end, don’t ignore Him – He knows what He is talking about! Listen, obey, turn around & come away from the things that are leading you to Hell.
02) Two figures, apparently standing above the crowds in the middle of the scene.
The other difference between the two versions of this scene is the inclusion of two figures in the centre of the picture. At first glance you would think that they are simply good-looking “beautiful people”. But if you look more closely you’ll see there is something else present. Here is a close-up of this part of the scene so that you can see it more clearly:
Deamons holding up cardboard cutouts of a male & female model.
The point of including these figures is to raise questions in the viewers mind. If you look closely you will see that the two figures are actually flat 2D shapes. You might notice that I have left white spaces between the figures arms & bodies & that their are feint white lines on the two models, which are crease lines in a printed 2D cutout, to show that these are not real people at all. I included these rather risque images as another commentary on society’s obsession with sex & the over stimulated bias we have towards glossy, graphic imagery, which de-humanizes people before our eyes.
Behind the 2D cutouts are two green figures, with leathery wings, scales & talons on their hands, grasping & holding up these cardboard cutouts of the male & female models. The idea is that two daemons (fallen angels) are holding up the cardboard cut outs, & are ushering people along the path that leads to their eventual destruction. People often think that if they saw a daemon or fallen angel then they would recognise them as such. But we know that Satan has the ability to appear as an angel of light (see 2 Corinthians 11:14 *6), & presumably his minions are capable of similar deception. If these two green creatures just stood there & directed people, of course the people would think twice about going down the indicated path, but by hiding behind the cardboard cutouts they are mostly hidden from view & so go unnoticed. Of course, in reality, the forces of darkness don’t stand behind cardboard cutouts! They are far more subtle, & tend to appeal to our own greed & fallen human natures: we may even think that the evil thoughts that occur to us are our own thoughts. They may be, but then again they may be being insinuated into our minds by these evil, fallen angels.
So these cardboard cutout carrying creatures are representative of all daemonic activity in our world, designed to turn us away from God & towards our own doom in Hell.
I hope my inclusion of the scantily clad figures & the glossy magazine do not offend my viewers. I have only included them after much thought & then to get the above points across about our sex-obsessed natures.
Additional note: a friend was shocked by the inclusion of the “beautiful people”, so I took his advice & have just (16/March/2015) added trousers on to the male figure, & have completely changed the female figure.
The importance of the narrow gate & narrow pathway
The New Living Translation adds to the passage:
Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it.
Notice it states that “You can enter God’s Kingdom ONLY through the narrow gate.” There is no other way.
Everyone is presented with two ways, represented by two gates. One gate is narrow & the other one is wide. Jesus commanded those who would follow Him to enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. Although this gateway is small, and the road is narrow, that way, which is The Way of Jesus, alone leads to life: abundant like on earth & eternal life with God in heaven.
The danger & attraction of the wide gate, however, is its ease & the fact that so many other people are we upon it. When you see so many other folk you tend to think (even subconsciously) “this must be the right road then!” But how wrong you will be! The road to hell is broad and it is the easy way. There is plenty of room on that road for many people to wander in and continue wandering along, in whatever direction they wish. That road leads inevitably to hell.
It is interesting to note that the gate leading to life is small. Is that because it is so difficult to become a Christian? No, it’s not that, it is easy to become one: all you have to do is believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead & confess with your lips that “Jesus is Lord” – See Romans 10:9-13 *1
So it’s not that the way of becoming a Christian is especially hard. It’s the path or the lifestyle that puts so many people off. There is only one way (the Gospel message: Jesus sacrificial death on the cross) and only a few decide to walk that road. Jesus’ death on the cross means that He takes our sin away from us, & imputes (puts into) His righteousness (right standing with God the Father) into us: thus cleaning our record. With a clean record of sin, we are then able to stand before the Father in heaven.
In Luke 13:24 *2 a similar story or metaphor is given, but here Jesus speaks of a narrow door, saying, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”
In John 10:7,9 *3 Jesus explains twice that He is the gate. Take note of verse 9, “whoever enters through me WILL be saved.” That’s the same message the Apostle Paul gives in Romans 10:13 “For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] WILL be saved.”
The Jews expect to be able to enter into the Kingdom of God because of their history & belonging to that holy nation. Many non-Jewish people might also expect to be admitted to heaven, for some other reason. But the Bible makes it abundantly clear: no-one gains entry to heaven based on nation position, political persuasion, wealth, or any other personal attribute, save one: simple response of faith in Jesus as your personal saviour.
Romans 10:11-12 states:
11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed. 12 [No one] for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek (in other words any non-Jew). The same Lord is Lord over all [of us] and He generously bestows His riches upon ALL who call upon Him [in faith].
Once our earthly life is over there seems to be no way to gain entry to heaven. That would make sense of Jesus statement in Luke 13:24 *2 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” There is an urgency of responding to the Gospel message now, while we are still able to. Don’t put off to tomorrow such an important decision.
Romans 10:9-13 (AMP)
9 Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation.
11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed.
12 [No one] for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek. The same Lord is Lord over all [of us] and He generously bestows His riches upon all who call upon Him [in faith].
13 For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved.
Luke 13:22-30 (ANIV)
22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.
23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them,
24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
25 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.’
26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’
27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
28 “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.
29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.
30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
John 10:7-10 (ANIV)
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Matthew 6:24 Amplified Bible (AMP)
24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stand by and be devoted to the one and despise and be against the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions, or whatever is trusted in).
1 Timothy 6:10 Amplified Bible (AMP)
10 For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs.
2 Corinthians 11:14 Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light;
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 Amplified Bible (AMP)
9 Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived (misled): neither the impure and immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who participate in homosexuality, 10 Nor cheats (swindlers and thieves), nor greedy graspers, nor drunkards, nor foulmouthed revilers and slanderers, nor extortioners and robbers will inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21 Amplified Bible (AMP)
19 Now the doings (practices) of the flesh are clear (obvious): they are immorality, impurity, indecency,
20 Idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger (ill temper), selfishness, divisions (dissensions), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies),21 Envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.