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The Narrow Door

Luke 13:22-30

Rev. Kurt Hering

Pentecost 14, Proper 16, series C
Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton  
Kansas


right-click to download MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Aug 21, 2016 

Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.

[Jesus] went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”

But Jesus doesn’t give that someone an answer about *those* people or how many of them will be saved. He doesn’t talk to the someone about the others, and He doesn’t talk to the others about the someone. Just like He doesn’t tell us about others or tell others about us—a mindset and practice we would do well to imitate and develop amongst ourselves. He tells that someone, and every other someone gathered in earshot, “*You*! Strive to enter through the narrow door.”

Because the narrow door only allows passage for one at a time.

To hear the entire sermon as it was preached to the saints at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, "The Narrow Door," click on the audio link provided above. The sermon begins at 11:10.

Graphic: Church sign @ Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS.

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript the preaching manuscript follows below. .

Nota Bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Bullet points in the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.

Nota Bene: Sermons are meant to be heard. Bullet points in the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.

Grace, mercy and peace to you in the Name of the One & Only true God-in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Dear children of God,

How many of you here remember when you heard those words for the first time? In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Even the littlest and youngest of you here have heard them many times since. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In fact, in one way, shape, form or another, you have heard them a number of times already this morning—probably more times than you would be able to count without paging back through the liturgy and hymns.

The oldest of us here may even remember having heard them a little differently. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. It’s the same name with a little different nuance--which we can get into in a bible study some day if you like--one which we still use in certain hymns and liturgical verses from time to time as we already have this morning.

But how many of you here remember when you heard those precious words for the first time? In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

I don’t. But then my memory isn’t what it used to be.

Hmmm. Maybe that has something to do with why you have already heard, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” so many times already this morning—not just because my memory isn’t so hot, but because neither is yours. That’s one of the many problems with us sinners. We forget what got us here. We forget we’re even sinners. And we forget who brung us.

That’s the same problem we read about in our Gospel text according to St. Luke this morning.

[Jesus] went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying

toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”

First, notice that it is one person out of many who asks the question. Second, notice it is to all who are gathered that Jesus addresses the answer.

And he said to them,

But most importantly, notice how Jesus turns the tables and the question back on them.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door.”

The “someone” who asked the question that was on the minds of the many gathered around Jesus as He went on His way to Jerusalem and the Cross was asking about “those” people. You know, “those” people who are not lucky enough to be us people; “those” people who are not the righteous children of Abraham or good Christians like us people; those people who live and talk and even eat differently than we do; those people who are sinful and unclean—or at least more sinful and unclean than us people.

That’s the way it is with sinners. We like to point at those people. It deflects attention away from us and our problem—our sin. Like the someone who said to Jesus, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” we like to think we can sidle up to Jesus and get the inside skinny on those people. Or worse yet, give Him the inside skinny on those people. “Hey, Jesus, just between you and me, are you really going to save any of those people? You do know who those people are and what they are doing, right Jesus? I’m sure glad we’re not those people.”

But Jesus doesn’t give that someone an answer about those people or how many of them will be saved. He doesn’t talk to the someone about the others, and He doesn’t talk to the others about the someone. Just like He doesn’t tell us about others or tell others about us—a mindset and practice we would do well to imitate and develop amongst ourselves. He tells that someone, and every other someone gathered in earshot, “You Strive to enter through the narrow door.”

Because the narrow door only allows passage for one at a time. Like the camel entering the city of Jerusalem through the gate known as eye of the needle, the narrow door that is the entrance to heaven only allows passage for one person, one soul at a time. And that one soul must first be relieved of all his earthly baggage before he can get through.

What’s more, even with all its freight (often all the earthly possessions of its owner) removed, the camel cannot pass through the eye of the needle gate unless it is on its knees.

Interestingly, the Biblical word for worship literally means to fall on one’s knees and bow down to what and who is before you. Thus, the First Commandment is—

. . . “You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3

What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.

And that brings us back to the beginning of this sermon, the beginning of our worship service, the beginning of our life in the kingdom of heaven.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t remember the first time I heard those words, the name of the One true God, spoken. And more than likely you don’t either. That’s because the first time you heard them, like me, you were likely very small--maybe even carried in your mother’s womb into church for the first time, like John the Baptizer who leapt in his mother Elizabeth’s womb at hearing that he was in the presence of the Lord—and, like me, you were certainly lost in sin when you first heard them.

Like the someone who said to Jesus, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” we like to point at those people out there, anybody but us. It deflects attention away from us and our problem—our sin. We forget what got us here. We forget we’re even sinners. And we forget who brung us.

To me, and to you, and to every someone—every sinner--who has ever asked the question: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” Jesus’ answer is: “You Strive to enter through the narrow door.”

The rest will take care of itself. Just like He takes care of you, God will take care of those people out there.

The narrow door is Jesus, whose very name means “I Am Salvation.” Strive to enter the kingdom of heaven through Him. Bow down before Him in the worship that falls to its knees and asks Him to relieve you of your earthly baggage—your sin and all the things of this world that go with it.

When you do, you will always hear the words of forgiveness that save you and every other someone who strives to enter the Narrow Door and bows down in worship before Him; the words that name the One True God who is before all others; the words that save you now and bid you to rise-- In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

We rise!

The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, The Narrow Door. 

row Door.



Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.



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