Have you decided to follow Jesus? There is a path that we should all be on in life and that is the pathway to glory. In this week’s sermon, I focus on how we must follow Jesus to make it down the path to glory to reach the kingdom of heaven.
In Matthew 16:24-17:5, Jesus shared a message to whomever desired to save their lives. Jesus asked, “what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” He asked, “what will a man give in exchange for his soul (Matt. 16:26)?”
Jesus spoke with a great concern for the soul. The reason for Jesus’ great concern is because it is God’s will that the soul be saved from death. Many people today try to find life by seeking what they think will make them happy in their soul. However, as I often ask, do you think that what is of the physical can bring life to the soul?
This brings me back to the key verse of my sermon for today.
Why do you think Jesus was encouraging people to follow Him? He was not telling people to follow Him just for the sake of doing it.
Two Pathways to Choose Between
Throughout January, I spoke about how there are many doors, many paths one can take in life. Though these paths may seem different, they end up being one of two paths. One being a pathway of mediocrity and failure. The other being the pathway of blessings from God.
The broad path
Matthew 7:13-14 records Jesus speaking of these two pathways. Jesus explained that there is a narrow gate with a narrow path and a wide gate with a broad path.
In Matthew 7:13, Jesus explained that many enter at the wide gate and go down its broad path. Because many go down this path, it is a well traveled path that can be easy to follow. Now, while it may seem to be easy to follow, Jesus warned that the broad path leads to destruction— an ending point.
What this means is that this path doesn’t stay broad forever; it’s like a funnel that is always closing down. Those that choose to go down this path are essentially trying to move against a ticking clock. Being on this path means that desperation will pick up as some will fight to survive.
Greediness and apathy become a part of the way for some travelers on this path. Others will go down this path accepting the path as it is, which means they accept their fate. When one chooses to stay on this path there is nothing that can be done to save them from the inevitable. The sad part about this is that those this path will have ignored every warning bell telling them to turn back.
The narrow path
In Matthew 7:14, Jesus spoke about the narrow gate and its path— the road less taken. This is a hazardous path to take as it is not so cleared out of hindrances and obstacles. The narrow path is like trying to go through a forest where the path is not so easy for one to make out.
Though this path seems imposing, Jesus said the narrow path leads to life. Unlike the broad path, the narrow path is one that expands over time. Jesus promised that while traveling the narrow path may be difficult, at the start, things will get better.
Which path will you take: the easy or difficult path? Do you desire to find life? Proverbs 14:12 states that there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Many believe that the path that seems right is the broad path. I say to you that if you desire to find life, don’t go down the path that seems right to a man.
Proverbs 3:5 tells us not to lean on our own understanding but to trust in the Lord. You and I should trust in the Lord with all our heart! Then Proverbs 3:6 said that when we submit to God in all our ways, He will make direct our paths. This means that God will go before you clearing out the path!
Will You Follow Jesus?
In my key verse, Jesus spoke to the notion of that proverb. Jesus said that one should deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. Will you follow Jesus?
Some may wonder, where is Jesus going? Not everyone knows where Jesus is going. Thomas, a disciple of Jesus, once asked Jesus where He was going (John 14:5)? Thomas wanted to follow but didn’t know where he was going. Many of us will ask someone where they are going if they ask us to follow them.
Jesus answered Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me (John 14:6).” This was said after Jesus had told the disciples about His Father’s house (the heavenly kingdom).
Jesus then spoke of how He was going to prepare a place in His Father’s house. Once it is ready, Jesus explained that He will return to bring His disciples home with Him (John 14:3). So, where is Jesus going? To the Father’s house— to heaven and glory.
Will you follow Jesus to heaven and to glory? If you desire to follow Jesus to the Father’s house, you won’t find Him at the wide gate. If you desire to follow Jesus, He said for you to enter and the narrow gate!
The Difficult Path to Glory
So, let’s be clear: if you’re going to follow Jesus to glory, you must be prepared to walk a difficult path. I want you to understand that it is not easy to follow Jesus. To one that wanted to follow Him, Jesus expressed that foxes have holes, birds have nests, but He had nowhere to lay His head (Matt. 8:20). Jesus was expressing the great difficulty in following Him. If you desire to follow Jesus, just know there is a price to pay!
The suffering of Christ
In 1 Peter 2:19-25, Peter explained the price to pay to follow Jesus. In this scripture, Peter spoke of what he saw Jesus go through on the path to glory.
In 1 Peter 2:23, Peter spoke about how Christ was reviled (hated). When Christ was reviled, Peter said that Christ did not revile (hate) in return.
Those that hated Jesus did so because He was not of the world (John 15:19). Yes, Jesus came from eternity to our world, but this is not what I mean by Him not being of the world. Jesus was not of the world from the standpoint that He lived by the word of God rather than the way of the world. Those that hated Jesus did so because He testified of their works being evil (John 7:7).
So because they hated Jesus they persecuted Him with no relent. Peter wrote that when Jesus suffered (endured) persecution He did not threaten (1 Pet. 2:23). In all He went through, Jesus held His head high and committed Himself to the way of righteousness.
The most remarkable part about Jesus is how he faced so much bitterness but He committed no sin (1 Pet. 2:22). The world is the kind of place that can make the most upright person taste bitterness at times.
Take up your cross
In all that He endured, Peter concluded that Christ set the example for believers to follow (1 Pet. 2:21). Do you think that you can follow His example?
If you desire to follow Jesus, it is a must follow His lead down the path to glory. I know that I do my best to make the effort but it is not easy. It’s so difficult to live by the example that Christ set that many don’t even bother to travel the narrow path. There are even many that profess to be followers of Christ but they walk the broad path rather than the narrow.
As you have heard me say recently, faith requires effort! God desires to see you put forth the effort of faith. Not many are going to follow you down the narrow path, but you must be willing to stay the course though it is difficult.
So, one that desires to follow Jesus must determine whether or not they can handle the difficulty. The journey is difficult for one to take because we all have our own cross to take up and carry. To be clear, I am not saying there is a wooden cross out there for you to carry.
What is the cross that we must take up and carry? Let us consider what it meant when Jesus took up His cross. When Christ took up His cross, He ended up hanging on it to give His life for those that believe in Him.
Jesus said that there is no greater love than for one to lay down their life for their friends (John 15:13). Was this Jesus telling us to lay down our life for our friends? Are we supposed to sacrifice ourselves for our friends on a cross? No.
Jesus said to the disciples, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you (John 15:14).” I ask you this question: Are you a friend of Jesus? If so, what are you doing for Him?
Christ did not call on His friends to die for Him or anyone else. The only thing that Christ asked His friends to do was to obey whatever He commanded. If you are a friend of Jesus, I now ask this question: are you doing what He commanded?
Have you taken up your cross to follow Jesus? The cross you carry calls on the believer to sacrifice themselves— their obedience. Rather than being obedient to our wants, lusts, and passions we must live in obedience to the way (the path) of Christ.
Enduring the path to glory
As I have said before, many see being obedient to the way of Christ as a sacrifice of one’s free will. Many are adamant in that they aren’t going to give up their free will for God. I have found that the free will that many desire to hold on to is the free will of living as a sinner. Again, there are many professed believers that want the free will to live as a sinner but still be rewarded by God.
The narrow path is filled with sin and temptation which is why it is so important to follow Jesus. If you desire to follow Jesus, you must deny the nature of sin. We can definitely make it down the narrow path but we must be mindful of our ways!
In John 15:12, Jesus instructed His followers to love others as Christ has loved them. To make it down the narrow path, we must walk with love in our heart. Let us keep in mind the love Christ had for us to endure all that He suffered.
If you desire to reach glory, Peter called on servants to be submissive (or subject) to their masters (1 Pet. 2:18). To be submissive or subject to anything is to choose to do so by free will. Believers are to have an attitude that is lowly and humble. We are to strive to live peaceably with all people (Rom. 12:18), but this is the point where many step off the narrow path .
Peter also said that we must be willing to endure grief and suffer wrongly with all patience (1 Pet. 2:19-20). We must not answer hate with hate, nor threaten when we are persecuted. Like Christ, we must be fully committed to Him who judges righteously. Are you fully committed or partly committed to the way? To entering through the narrow gate to walk down its difficult path?
The Reward of the Narrow Path
Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:20 that it is commendable if one suffers the difficulties with a mind for God. Peter knew first-hand what it was like to be on the road less traveled and stayed the course. Peter chose to continue on the difficult path because he saw the reward of the way with his own eyes.
You see, there is a reward that Jesus promised to reward those that take up their cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:27). Jesus showed the reward to Peter, James, and John when He transfigured before them. In Matthew 17:2, when He transfigured, Jesus’ face shone like the sun and His clothes became white as light.
The transfiguration of Christ is a picture of our future. Jesus showed Peter, James, and John the reward of the narrow path and the reward is glory. Do you desire to be clothed in the glory of God?
As the believer travels down the narrow path, the funnel begins to open up. The funnel of the narrow path opens up to the glory of God. All that pressing down that we endure today is doing nothing but creating the perfect gem. As Paul said, we are hard-pressed on every side but we aren’t destroyed (2 Cor. 4:8-14).
One day, you and I are going to see these feeble bodies of ours transform. Revelation 19:8 shows us this future picture. The scripture reads, “To her (the wife of the Lamb) it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
The wife of the Lamb is the collective congregation of all sincere believers. I have never hidden from you the picture of the church being in heaven. I want you to know that you already been seen in your fine linen! All that you have to do is stay the course and fulfill what John saw in heaven.
It is to all of us that follow Jesus down the narrow path to be arrayed in the beauty of glory and find life. So, I ask all of you again: Have you decided to follow Jesus? I hope you choose to take the pathway to glory.