“Someone asked Him, ‘Lord, will only a few be saved? He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door, for I tell you many will try and not be able.” (Matthew 14:24)
It is not easy to accept the incomparable claims of Jesus, nor to choose His way, which is the narrow way. John Stott, the late popular British author and pastor said, “Jesus is not just interesting, He is deeply disturbing.” Another British scholar and university professor said, in response to the claims and call of Jesus, “If anyone would come to Christ he must be willing to give up his own way of looking at things.” If we decide to follow Jesus and are seeking to see all of life through His eyes, we will definitely find it not only disturbing, difficult, and demanding, but impossible (i.e.without Christ Himself living in us and through us).
Christianity is not simply one religious option among many. It is not just a moral movement, a list of commandments, both positive and negative, for living a good life. It is not a code of conduct, but Christ Himself! It is not a philosophy, but a person! It is the person of Jesus, who “lived among us, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), and Christ living in us (Colossians 1:27). Perhaps the Apostle said it best when he wrote to the Galatians, speaking out of his own Christian experience, “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me, and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me, and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
Christianity is an exchanged life, exchanging a self-centered life for a Christ-centered life. It is a choice. It is volitional. It is a matter of will. It is a personal response to the claims of Christ, an individual decision to believe in Him for who He says He is, and the decision to follow Him, to live for Him, by faith in Him as the One who died for us on the cross for our salvation.
Jesus claimed that every person must choose to either say yes or no to His claims, that there is no other option; we either accept Him or reject Him. There is no middle ground. Jesus said there is a broad way that leads to death and destruction, and there is a narrow way that leads to life. His way is the narrow way. Most people do not like the word “narrow,” but according to Jesus it is the only way that leads to life, both here-and-now and hereafter. He taught that every person’s eternal destiny is linked to Him and how one responds to Him in this life. This is a life or death matter for everyone who hears the Gospel, and for every person who is confronted with Christ’s incomparable claims:
- At the very beginning of His earthly ministry, when He returned to his own home in Nazareth and spoke in the synagogue where He and His family had worshiped, Jesus claimed the Messianic prophecy of Isiah had been fulfilled in Him (Luke 4:21). He was pointing to Himself as the Messiah, but everyone in that synagogue knew Jesus as the son of Mary and Joseph. When confronted with His claims, they reacted in anger and unbelief.
- In Matthew 5:17, it is recorded that Jesus claimed He had come to fulfill the law and the prophets, and throughout His ministry He called others to Himself. He did not say, “follow my teachings,” but rather “follow me.” He called for total surrender and absolute submission to Himself (Matthew 10:37).
- Jesus presented Himself as the One who had come to establish the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15, 8:27-29). He referred to Himself in terms that put Himself in an adversarial position with the religious leaders in Judea (Luke 10:23-24, Matthew 13:16-17).
- In John 8:58-59, Jesus even dared to use “I am,” in reference to Himself—the name given to the one true and living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the great “I AM”—even claiming, “Before Abraham was, I am.”
- Jesus put His own teachings on a higher level than the words of Moses, saying “You have heard it said of old, but I say unto you…” (Matthew 5:18, 20-22, 26-28, 31,32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44).
So, once again, what do you make of such claims? Are you like so many others, who say they believe Jesus was a good man, a godly man, but not really God? Well, if Jesus was a good man, then He was a truthful man, and if He was a truthful man, was He not telling the truth when He spoke of Himself in such unparalleled terms? We are faced with this simple fact: Jesus was either telling the truth or lying. Do you believe His claims were lies? Do His teachings really sound like lies to you? Or have you accepted every word that is attributed to Jesus in the New Testament as words that fit Him, and Him alone? That is the question.
That is the issue when we are confronted with the incredible and incomparable claims of Jesus Christ. Was He deceived about Himself, and also deceiving others? If so, then He was a false prophet and all who have believed Him to be the unique and solitary Son of God, their Lord and their Redeemer, have been following one who was the greatest of all false prophets. Does that really sound like a credible conclusion to you? If not, then bow down before Him and claim Him for who He claims to be, and who He is (not was, but IS, now and forever), accepting Him also as your own personal Savior and Lord, now and forever!