“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” John 14:6.
Jesus is the way. The way to the Father. The way of life. The way to salvation. Jesus lived on earth to show us the way. To follow Him on this way means that we should walk as He walked. We are to follow in His footsteps, living as He lived. A way means that we are moving forward. When we follow Him, we come to where He is now.
Jesus calls this way “the narrow way”.
“Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 (CEB).
Entering the narrow way
How do we find this gate, the entrance to this narrow way? It’s not because we are special people, or that we did something special so that we could find it. It is simply because God, in His love and mercy, put a desire for the good in our hearts and draws and leads us in the right direction.
But when we see this narrow gate, there is something we must do before we can go through the narrow gate and start to walk on the narrow way that leads to life. Paul describes this in Philippians 3:7-8 (BBE): “But those things which were profit to me, I gave up for Christ. Yes truly, and I am ready to give up all things for the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, which is more than all: for whom I have undergone the loss of all things, and to me they are less than nothing, so that I may have Christ as my reward.”
God shows us the things that are stopping us from walking on this way. These are the things that we must leave behind. Our own reasonings and ideas. Our belief in our own abilities. Relationships that hold us back. Position. Honour. Pride. We have to see them as less than nothing and leave them outside the gate; there is no room for them on the narrow way. If we can get our eyes opened to see, as Paul saw, the value of what it is to “have Christ as our reward”, then we can see how it is possible to give up everything else.
Walking on the narrow way
Now that we’ve entered the way, it’s time to walk on it. We have to be doers and not hearers only (James 1:22). The narrow way is a way of action. Jesus shows us how He walked on this way when He was on earth, the way that we are to follow: “Then I said, ‘Look, I have come to do your will, O God— as is written about me in the Scriptures.’” Hebrews 10:7 (NLT).
In other words, to walk on the narrow way means that we totally give up our own will. Our own thoughts about how our life should be, our own desires. It means that we must overcome the sin in our sinful human nature, those things that are so natural to us, in order to do God’s will. This includes things like laziness, self-seeking, love of money, wanting to be important, bitterness, evil suspicion, pride, etc.
Now we can see why it is called the narrow way. There are few who are willing to walk on this way, because to give up our own will causes us suffering. But to walk on the narrow way is not a heavy life. There is actually great freedom on the narrow way. Freedom from being a slave of sin where we always just had to give in when we were tempted! “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin [stopped with sin], that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2.
To suffer in the flesh means the suffering that happens when you say no to the sinful lusts and desires coming from your sinful human nature (also called the flesh). It is an inner suffering (rather than a physical, outward one) that happens when you don’t do what your lusts and desires want.
Jesus is the way – we get to know Him
And what is the result of walking on this way? The result is that we get to know Jesus as our personal friend and brother! “… that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.” Philippians 3:10 (ESV).
We will not only know Him, but we will be very sure that when our time on earth is over and we go into eternity, He will know us! “Not everybody who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,' will get into the kingdom of heaven. Only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:21 (CEB).
Everything that happens to us can work together for our good. Everything that tempts us to sin is an opportunity to overcome that sin and become more and more free. “… for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin [has stopped with sin]…” And as we become more and more free from our sinful nature, our flesh, the life of Christ – the fruit of the Spirit – grows. This is God’s purpose for us – that we are changed to become like Christ. (Romans 8:28-29.)
The way is the life that Jesus lived. If we follow Him on this way and live a life of doing God’s will instead of our own, then when we enter the kingdom of heaven and get to meet Him face to face, we will be like Him, and see Him as He is. (1 John 3:2-3.)
“Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (CSB).