The main reason why Jesus became a human being was to die for our sins so we could be forgiven. Jesus was the “Lamb of God,” and it was God’s will that He die in Jerusalem during the Passover feast with all the other Passover lambs. As Jesus made His final journey from Galilee to Jerusalem, He taught in towns and villages on the way, and one day someone asked Him a very important question: “Lord, will only a few be saved?”
Using different words, Jesus restated what He’d taught during His sermon on the mountainside, revealing that only a minority of people would be saved, while the majority would go to hell: “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose the easy way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
In this instance, Jesus told His questioner that many people would try to enter heaven, but they would be kept out for one reason—because they were evildoers. Some people will even claim that they ate and drank with Jesus and listened to Him teach in their streets, which will be true of many people who were alive when Jesus walked the earth. However, their association with Him won’t be enough for them to be saved. It’s not being just associated with Jesus that gets a person into heaven, it’s believing with an obedient faith that He is the Son of God. If a person only associates with Jesus, he obviously doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Son of God, otherwise he would give his life to Him in obedient service, and no longer be categorized as an evildoer. He may believe that Jesus is a nice person, a good teacher or a faithful friend, but that is not enough. Are you a part of the minority who will enter heaven through the narrow gate?
Jesus also made it plain that there are only two places people will go after they die: heaven or hell. There is no purgatory as some think, a place where people pay for their sins and then are eventually released into heaven.
In the final part of today’s reading, we read of Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem. Take note that although He knew He would soon be crucified in that city, He wasn’t feeling sorry for Himself. Rather, He was feeling sorry for the people of Jerusalem because He knew the consequences they would suffer for rejecting Him. Within forty years, their city would be destroyed, and tens of thousands of the inhabitants would be crucified by the Roman army. Worse than that, those who rejected Christ would spend eternity in hell.
It was God’s perfect will that all the people of Jerusalem be saved, expressed by Jesus when He said, “How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings” (Luke 13:34). But why wasn’t He able to do what He wanted? Jesus explained: “But you wouldn’t let me.” It won’t be God’s fault that anyone is in hell.
Q. Jesus said that in the future, when His kingdom comes, there will be people who are despised now but who will be greatly honored then, and there will be some who are greatly honored now who will be despised then. About what kinds of people do you think He was speaking?
A. For the most part, those who are devoted followers of Christ are not being honored by the world, but are being despised as fanatics and fools. They will be honored by God in His kingdom. On the other hand, there are many unsaved people whom the world presently honors, but who will be despised by God when they stand before Him.
Q. In today’s reading, Jesus quoted from Psalm 118. We can read in that same psalm these words: “The stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). What do you think the writer of that Psalm was talking about?
A. According to Jesus and Peter, Jesus is the rejected stone that became the cornerstone (see Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11). If you don’t know what a cornerstone is, ask your parents.
Application: Jesus promised in today’s reading that people from all over the world would be citizens of His future kingdom. This proves that Jesus died for everyone and that God loves every member of every race and nationality. He is not prejudiced at all. When you think of people of other races or nationalities, are your thoughts like God’s thoughts? Christians, above all people, should not be prejudiced.