Jesus said that there are two ways (paths, roads) that we can choose from. All of us will choose one of these two ways whether we realize it or not. In fact, if we haven’t made the conscious choice between these two ways, then we have taken the default “broad way” (Matthew 7:13). Here is exactly what Jesus said:
Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7:13–14, NKJV)
He said to choose to “enter by the narrow gate.” You can’t go through that gate by accident! Again, if you are simply strolling through life, with no real determined direction, then you are in the default “broad way.”
A “broad way” is big and wide enough that a person can just wander here and there and everywhere and still be in that “broad way.” It doesn’t take any real determination, there is no choice that has to be made. The end of that “broad way” leads to a “wide gate.” It is a gate so big and wide that people can just wander through it without even realizing that’s the direction they were going. It is big and wide enough that everyone who hasn’t made the conscious decision to take the other path can just stroll right through that “wide gate.” There is no effort required at all. And on the other side of that wide gate, “destruction.” How sad it is that this is the path chosen – intentionally or not – by the majority of humanity.
The other “way” is the “difficult way.” The word “difficult” isn’t referring to any obstacles, necessarily, that would hinder us from getting in that way. Rather, it is talking about the determined effort of staying in that way. Unlike the “broad way,” it takes focus and effort to stay on this “difficult way.” Where someone can just wander all over the place and still be in the “broad way,” a person has to really pay attention to where they’re going to stay in the “difficult way.”
It’s like the difference between a wide open interstate highway with no traffic on it. You can fiddle with the radio, dig through the glove box, fix your lipstick, eat a bowl of cereal – like the Allstate commercial – without much worry that you’re going to run off the road or hit something. You’ve got a great big, wide open, road you can just drift all over on. The “difficult way” would be more like a winding mountain road with a mountain wall on one side and a cliff on the other. If you swerve one way you’re going to crash into a wall, if you swerve the other you’re going to fall to your death. So you don’t fiddle with the radio and mess with your makeup. You keep both hands firmly fixed on the wheel, leaning forward, with an eagle eye on every turn and twist in that road. The last thing you want to do is make the slightest swerve. You are focused on that road!
The “difficult way” leads to the “narrow gate,” and on the other side of that gate, “life”! It doesn’t have a great big wide opening that hordes of people can just wander through, willy-nilly. No! It has a narrow opening. If you swerve to the left or the right you will be out of the way and miss the gate altogether.
This is the illustration Jesus gives for living as His faithful disciples. As we approach the beginning of a new year, ask yourself which “way” you’re on right now. If you have never considered that question then, from what Jesus said, you already know you’re on the “broad way.” If you have thought about that question but never really made a determined decision about how to respond to it, then, again, you already know you’re on the “broad way.” If you’ve asked that question and made the decision to get on the way that leads to everlasting life (cf. Rom. 10:17; Acts 8:12; 17:30, 31; Rom. 10:9, 10; Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3, 4), but you’ve taken your eyes off the road, then you know you’ve wandered back into the “broad way.” There is only one “way” and one “gate” that leads to everlasting life (cf. Jn. 14:6). If you’re not in it today then what are you waiting for?