“Word for Today” – Luke 13 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

September 3, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment


Airplane 1I know the stereotype demands that, when preparing for a trip, guys pack light while women bring five suitcases for a two-night stay, but as much as I hate to confess this, I tend to pack pretty heavily myself.  Granted, I don’t necessarily bring an exorbitantly large number of personal effects, but I always bring my work bag, crammed with books and papers, determined to “catch up” on a bunch of work while I have some “down time.”

When I’m flying, it’s my workbag that I take with me as my carry on.  However, it is almost always comically bursting at the seams as I lug it down the jet way to my aircraft.  This means that it also becomes incredibly difficult to fit my overstuffed carry on under the seat in front of me.  But that’s okay.  I have a system.  I start with the bottom of my bag and begin to jam it under the seat.  Then, if it doesn’t fit, I pull out a book or two and hold them in my lap.  After all, I’ll want to read those on the flight anyway.  If it still doesn’t fit, it’s nothing a good-old-fashioned kick can’t solve.  And with that, my bag becomes irremovably lodged under the seat in front of me.  I always stand amazed at how much carry on I can fit into such a small space.  There’s a lot more space under that seat than you might first think.

In our reading for today from Luke 13, Jesus is asked a question:  “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved” (verse 23)?  This man wants to know:  “How many people can God cram into the kingdom of heaven?”  Interestingly, Jesus does not answer this man’s question directly, but instead offers a picture of the door which leads to salvation:

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 came from…Away from me, you evildoers!” (verses 24-25, 27)

Jesus calls heaven’s entrance a “narrow door.”  Some have taken this to mean, as Jesus’ questioner opines, that only an elect few will be saved. An old nineteenth century Baptist hymn expresses this sentiment thusly: “We are the Lord’s elected few, let all the rest be damned. There’s room enough in hell for you; we don’t want heaven crammed!” As you have hopefully already deduced, this is hardly an accurate paraphrase of Jesus’ teaching.

The Greek here is interesting.  The word for “door” is pule which is commonly used to describe not the doors of normal, everyday houses, but the gates of cities and palaces.  In other words, a pule is not just a door, it’s a large door.  Thus, Jesus’ language is almost oxymoronic:  “Make every effort to enter through the little big door.”

What is Jesus’ point?  The door to salvation does indeed look narrow and small.  And you may wonder how anyone can fit through such a small space.  But there’s a lot more room in heaven than you might first think, for the door to heaven is a little big door.

Indeed, this is exactly what Jesus says: “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God” (verse 29).  Even though the gate to heaven is narrow, and even though many will be left outside “weeping and gnashing their teeth” (verse 28) because of unbelief, heaven will still be packed with believers from every corner of the earth – east and west, north and south.

Jesus draws his words concerning the earth’s four corners in verse 29 from Psalm 107:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the LORD say this – those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south. (Psalm 107:1-3)

God will redeem people from every corner of the earth, says the Psalmist.  The Psalmist then continues:

Some wandered in desert wastelands, 
finding no way to a city where they could settle. Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, 
and he delivered them from their distress. Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, 
prisoners suffering in iron chains. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
and he saved them from their distress. Some became fools through their rebellious ways 
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. (Psalm 107:4, 6, 10, 13, 17, 19)

Some from here, some from there.  Some from north, south, east, and west.  And by the time you put all these people together, you find there’s a lot more room in heaven than you might first think.  A lot of people will finally fit through that little big door.  And you know what the best news is?  By faith, you’ll fit too.

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Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Luke 12 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Luke 14 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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