Jesus & the Paradox of the Narrow Way

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The Hebrew way of thinking about life was that life is a walk. This is one of the primary ways the apostle Paul talks about how you live your life – how you walk. We are all on a path to something even if you aren’t trying to be on a path to something. The early Christians were called “The Way.” They were not called “a way” but “the way.” It is important how we live, how we walk – the path that we take in life. It all truly matters and has eternal significance.

In John 14, Jesus has one of this most famous conversations with his disciples. It is a conversation that has inspired such uninspiring songs as “mansion, robe and a crown.” More than that, Jesus has something to say to us about his very nature,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

How can we know the way? The way is not a path. The way is a person – Jesus.

I have been meditating on that idea over the last few days. What does it mean for Jesus not to be a way but to be the way. What meaning is there in Jesus actually being the path itself? To me, it means to be on Jesus’ path is to be with and in Jesus himself. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that the way is narrow and that few will find it (Matt 7:13f). As I was considering what it means for Jesus to be the way and that the way he is demonstrating is a narrow way, in my mind’s eye, I zoomed in…closer and closer to the path. From the bird’s eye perspective the way appears to be narrow but the more I zoom in the wider and wider it gets. The closer I get to zooming in on Jesus, the wider the path appears. The more microscopic my focus, like some odd 80’s movie about shrinking people, everything else around seems to get larger and more expansive.

It dawned on me that the way of Jesus is a narrow way but the closer you are to Christ, the wider the way seems to us. The closer you get to Jesus the more freedom you have and, although the path has never changed it size, it no longer seems so narrow. It seems just right. Of course, any time we can be close to Jesus is going to be just right. The road no longer feels so narrow when you are walking it with him.

I think this is what Paul was talking about when he wrote this to Titus,

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” – Titus 1:15

To a person who has pure intentions the things that catch their focus will be things that are pure and the things that are not pure will fade into the distance…so to the pure all things (that which they notice and attend to) are pure. It is not that everything in the world becomes morally acceptable. It is that what we perceive filters out the evil and impure so that all that is left to our eyes are pure things. Children are this way and we should be as well.

Here is what I am getting at. I am convinced the way of Jesus is a narrow way. But the closer I get to Jesus the less narrow it feels. It is not the result of God widening the path but it is a result of my focus and the graceful work of the Spirit showing me just how much freedom the narrow way allows. When I perceive that, this once narrow path seems expansive and as wide as the universe itself, walking with Jesus day in and day out.

I don’t know if this makes sense to you or not but it makes an awful lot of sense to me. I hope I have explained it well enough!

3 Responses

  1. It’s hard to see past Jesus – but possible – and your point really helps me realize if I try to ______ (fill in whatever task, goal, destination, viewpoint, bias… in the blank is at the forefront of the moment) ‘my’ way, maybe I’m trying to look past him. I’m not ready for that, won’t be ready for that, but often try (most times without really meaning to, but in my humanness relying on my power). Thanks Matt.

  2. It is not the path of salvation that is narrow to the few, but a way
    of being in Christ achieved as narrow. Most of us will will not scale to His actualization as He. If Hebrew path is a metaphor, does this not more sense? Just a thought. We can long to find this narrow path. Few find it and we are encouraged by the metaphor to strive for His wholeness.

  3. In Acts the people are called “the Way”, not because they are “the Way”, but because they follow “the Way”. The Way is Jesus, because Jesus says of Himself “I am the Way”, the way to God.
    Now most people when they read Matt.7:13 they relate it to doing the will of God or the law, but in reality it should be related to Jesus, the person and finding Jesus.
    Earlier in Matt.7:7-8 we are told “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
    So Jesus isn’t talking about the Law, but the finding the gate and that the way to God is relatively easy once you access the gate.

    When we start debating faith vs baptism vs repentance we actually leave “the Way”, because we leave Jesus as “the Way”.
    We turn to things in terms of salvation, instead of the person who saves.
    Are we to do things, yes, but these things are aimed at one thing…Jesus.
    We need to be focused on Jesus as the Way….the point of light.
    And then walk towards Him and in Him.
    Our walk now becomes a transformed walk.

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