September 22, 2019
Pastor John Hering
Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’
“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’
“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”Luke 13:22-30
If you were looking to remodel your kitchen in 1930 you would be looking at making your cabinets white and the hardware silver. Today if you visited a cabinet showroom with the idea of upgrading your kitchen cabinets, guess what color they would be? White with silver hard ware! When it comes to trends in clothes the pendulum swings back and forth. For a while at Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Ross, the featured color was brown, gold, rust colors, hip huggers, and platform shoes. A 60-year-old would have a flashback to 1965. Maybe you don’t really care about fashion and you’ve got T shirts in your closet that you wore in college and dress shoes that are more than 10 years old. Maybe you don’t care about the pendulum swinging back and forth in regard to cabinets, clothes and colors. But there is a pendulum swinging that we dare not ignore. This is in regard to spiritual matters. If we are not careful, we might get caught up in some trend and follow the crowd to eternal disaster. Today Jesus guides us so that we are neither careless or too-care filled. The encouragement today from God’s Word is that we
Don’t Follow The Wrong Crowd.
Follow Jesus to heaven
Perhaps you have seen a video on YouTube or Facebook of a beautiful mansion—massive, glittering chandeliers, the winding staircase, the Oak doors, and a huge space for a large gathering of friends. The friends who would assemble here would have a great time! If you saw people outside you might ask them, “Why aren’t you inside enjoying the party?” One of them answers, “Oh, I don’t like what’s on the menu.” Another says, “I don’t like the way that people look in there.” Another says, “I’m too busy. I’ve got important things on my mind.” One more might say, “I’ll get inside eventually. I’ve got plenty of time.” We would think those people outside weren’t taking the invitation very seriously. Then, all of the sudden, boom! the homeowner closes the door. It’s shut tight. That’s it. No one else can get in no matter how hard they knock.
That’s the scene Jesus portrays in his example of people who were following the wrong crowd. “Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’” We get the point. One day the door to heaven will be closed, and some will be on the inside and some on the outside. Some will be in heaven and some in hell. This fact makes it very important for us to know what’s all involved to be with God in heaven. The warning is to know the crowd you are following. We can’t assume that we have plenty of time or give other matters a higher priority.
We want to know for sure that we will be with God in heaven. In his story Jesus points to the people knocking outside the house who said to the homeowner, ““Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’” You see, just being an acquaintance with the homeowner does not get them into the banquet. That’s like assuming just because you were at Braum’s Ice cream standing in line behind Dak Prescott you’ll get a free ticket to the Cowboys football game. Are you crazy? In the same way, a passing acquaintance with Jesus isn’t going to get someone into heaven. Many of the Israelites of Jesus day could claim that they saw his miracles, in heard him preach, and some even ate with him, walked with him and listen to him. But if they did not take his words to heart, that he was their Savior, they would find themselves outside knocking. Perhaps the clearest example of this is Satan himself. He knows Jesus better than anyone, but not as his Savior, but as his Conqueror! Dear Friends, there is only one way to heaven. It is Jesus who said, “I am the gate of heaven” (John 10:9); “I am the way the truth and the life no one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6); “Whoever believes in me will never die [eternally]” (John 11:26).
No doubt there are some at this point who say, “I’ve heard all that before.” But when we become complacent in our spiritual life, letting our prayers to God, letting our Bible collect dust, then what crowd are we following? Have you ever thought, “I’m not as bad as those sinful people are?” Or “God has to be pleased with me for trying so hard!” Then what crowd are you following? What if you think, “At least I go to church. God doesn’t expect any more than that! If I say one little bad word, or think one little bad thought, just one little slip. That’s no big deal!” Then what crowd are you following?
That’s a vital question when we consider what God says in his Holy Bible! The Bible teaches that we will live forever. As my grade schoolteacher used to say, “You will live forever either in hell or in heaven.” This is a key statement and scares us to the core when we realize what we deserve due to our own failures and impurities. It is just then that we love to hear the gospel. We hear that Jesus died to pay the penalty of all our sins. We hear that the Father declares the world not guilty for sin for Jesus’ sake. Then we appreciate the faithfulness and the purity of Jesus. Jesus lived perfect for you. Jesus is the narrow door to heaven for you. Don’t follow the crowd on the wide road to hell. Follow Jesus to enter heaven. Jesus washed away your sins, your slipups, you’re stumbling in the precious holy blood of his sacrifice on the cross. Avoid the temptation to become careless and to merely know Jesus as a passing acquaintance. Rather, eagerly confess with the Apostle Paul, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17) Such praise from our lips avoids carelessly following the wrong crowd, but rather rejoices to follow Jesus to enter heaven. And as we follow along the way, we get to
Follow Jesus to enjoy heaven now
Let’s say you did get those tickets to the Cowboys football game today from Dak Prescott. You don’t want to be careless and lose them, so after church you go home and lock the tickets in your safety box. But you notice the key for the box is partially bent. So you go to Sampson Key and Lock to get the key repaired. On the way you notice that your mileage indicates that you need an oil change. You don’t want to have engine trouble on the way to the game, so you stop by one of those 5 minute oil change places. While waiting for your oil to get changed you notice how dirty your car is, so you take the coupon from the oil change place to the car wash. Of course, you need a new Cowboys Prescott Jersey for the game and have to go shopping. Guess what happened? You got so wrapped up in the distractions to get ready for the game that you missed it.
We all recognize how gracious God has been to give us so many activities, even godly activities. But we dare not lose sight of the ultimate goal because we are so busy with the blessings of this world, we lose sight of what’s to come. Jesus doesn’t want our spiritual life to be so care-filled with our earthly possessions that we lose heaven. So he creates a longing for heaven in his shocking and unique way. Listen to Jesus’ story. “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.” The evildoers who ignored the warning are all those who refused the gift of forgiveness through Jesus. But, look as Jesus emphasizes the wonders of heaven in contrast to the torments of hell. People who do not trust in Jesus will be separated from believers like Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Not to mention, they’ll be separated from friends and relatives who are in heaven. We get this every time you hear someone say at a funeral, “But, now they’re with their spouse, or their other loved ones.” Yes, there is indeed a longing to be with our loved ones in heaven. However, the worst part about hell isn’t the separation from other people! It is a separation from God’s love forever. Jesus impresses on us this horrible thought of being separated from everything wonderful in heaven, and causes us to long to be with Jesus, and all our loved ones in heaven. Indeed, let us follow Jesus to enjoy the promises of God about heaven now as we anticipate the eternal reunion with all God’s people in heaven!
Yes, there is a warning for us all to heed today—the crowd asked the question about how many are getting into heaven and Jesus answers: Just be sure you’re one of them! Yes, avoid following the wrong crowd and getting caught up in the cares of this life that can cloud our view of getting into heaven. Our sinful flesh needs to be reminded of this vivid description of hell so that we keep a balance in our life and a constant longing for the joys of heaven for Jesus’ sake. Consider this: As the flames of hell are licking at our heels, we gain an even greater appreciation for Jesus’ forgiveness and the greatness of heaven. Just imagine how wonderful it will be “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Sounds like a grand mansion with a grand hall, with space for all God’s people to enjoy the eternal joys of heaven! How awesome! The psalmist says, “in heaven is unending pleasure” Psalm 16:11; Peter says it’s so wonderful it is, “inexpressible joy” (1 Pet 1:18); Paul was inspired to write to Timothy that heaven will have “safety and protection” (2 Tim 4:18); and St John wrote, “and seeing Jesus face to face in all his glory” (John 17:24). Dear friends, avoid following the wrong crowd clinging to their cabinets, clothes, couches, careers, and computers to only becoming so care-filled with the things of this life and sadly end up missing out with the sound of a closed door.
The trends for clothes, cabinets and colors will have a pendulum that will continue to swing back and forth. Let us keep our eyes focused on Jesus. Let us continue to follow him. Let us also pray for those we know who are missing out on the eager anticipation and joy of heaven now. Let us share with them the gift of God’s forgiveness through Jesus! Avoid following the wrong crowd! Follow Jesus to life eternal in heaven. Amen!