Broad Is the Way That Leads To Destruction

Matthew 7.13-19
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.


I know lots of liberal and progressive Christians really dislike this text. But I'm here to tell you, brother and sisters, that I agree with Jesus!


I believe this!

In fact, I think it's pretty obvious if you read the daily paper or watch the evening news. Really, is this actually news to anyone? Is this actually controversial? I don't think so.

Broad is the way that leads to destruction.

Let us, again, remind ourselves about the destruction Jesus was warning about: the destruction of Jerusalem.

And who were those false prophets Jesus was warning about?

Again, these were the false Messiahs who were or would be agitating for the violent overthrow of Rome. But as Jesus declared, the one who lives by the sword will die by the sword. Jerusalem was on road to destruction because she had, in the words of the gospel of Luke, "failed to learn the things that make for peace."

And in contrast to this "broad road" of violence the way of Jesus as described in the Sermon on the Mount is a very different sort of path--a narrower, harder and lonelier path. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Turn the other cheek. Go the second mile.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

These are the teachings that bear "good fruit." These are the teachings that provide, like the wise man building on a rock, a firm and lasting foundation. These are the teachings that make the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

And yet, this is a hard, hard teaching. So hard it will be a narrow way. Few will find this path. Most will opt for violence. And we know where that road leads.

No one said it better than Jesus.

Broad is the way that leads to destruction.

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8 thoughts on “Broad Is the Way That Leads To Destruction”

  1. And just think, when I was growing up I was convinced by those I admired so much that this meant belonging to a small, yet doctrinally perfect church; the one that the rest of the religious world feared so much.

    I do not mention this in a facetious way at all, nor to be unkind to those of my past; that was the reality, the mindset. But then to see it the way you explain it so well, Dr. Beck, that it is peace, compassion, that is the narrow way, the way that "perfect" churches fear, the way that "well ordered, structured" societies fear, convinced me of how I had been looking through the wrong end of the telescope, and how I now wish I had those days back to let the seed of tenderness I know I had within me at the time grow and spread. But those days are gone; so I will consciously approach this day and each following day that becomes more narrow than the day before it, to see the tender Christ in each person I meet; after all, we do not catch tenderness, we embrace it only as we look for it.

  2. 'I know lots of liberal and progressive Christians really dislike this text.'

    This is really surprising. I would think this would be a 'go to' but I am probably not a good example...

  3. What I'm referring to is that a lot of progressive Christians are post-evangelicals who have tended to read texts like these as being texts about hell as eternal conscious torment which imports a violence into the character of God. But if we read the text (as scholars like N.T. Wright are) as Jesus making a sociopolitical observation then the violence in the text is self-inflicted rather than God-inflicted.

  4. Interesting. Just seems like prudent advice to me like Caveat Emptor. The easy way is generally not the right way and people will tell you what you want to hear, look at what they do. Maybe I oversimplify.

  5. In the past week or so, the great majority of Christians in this neck of the woods were so disappointed that the ACA was not overruled by the SCOTUS. To most of them health care is a privilege of the few and should not be affordable for everyone. When reminded that Jesus said that the sick need a doctor (Matthew 9:12), they just brush that aside. In the circle of Christians where I operate, I've heard much argument in favor of the Confederate flag with great emotion. Heard it tonight for 15 minutes before our class started 15 minutes late. On Sunday, June 21, hardly any churches in sermons or prayer had anything to say about the Charleston tragedy. But on Sunday, June 28, it has been a long time since I've heard such angst, anger, fear, outrage, and yes, even hate. Seems at times, trying to be spiritual and reflecting the spirit of Jesus flies in the face of prevailing cultural and religious callousness.

  6. Theo, I can certainly relate. Though I no longer live close to them, I have relatives and family friends who speak and argue like the ones you mention. What I see is that many congregations and members have settled into being protectors of the culture. I am convinced that they have a way of rationalizing the American, especially the southern way of life as superior to that of the first century, so that it becomes necessary to rework and transpose Jesus into the savior of what needs to be preserved. After all, if you already believe that your culture overlaps with righteousness more than any other, then a warped situation ethics takes over to protect it.

  7. Amen. Amen. Amen. Thank you. My thoughts are not profound, great theological ones, or anything like that. All I wanted to say is thank you and let you know that your writing here has inspired me.

  8. I'm new to this blog, so I don't know much about it but your comment is true of me too.... I was raised thinking that the narrow path meant being in a specific church/denomination and that believing all their doctrines was the way to salvation and all the worldly outsiders or Christians that disagreed were the ones that were on their way to destruction....this mindset still troubles me because it gives me anxiety about my beliefs not being correct, I'm constantly questioning "what if I'm wrong?" And it was wonderful to see this blog post because it makes so much sense..,, love seems to be the narrow path.

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