Flashback Episode — Avoiding the Closed-Door: Luke 13:22-30

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As Jesus taught the crowds, He frequently challenged them based on their level of commitment. Sometimes Jesus’ challenges were based on His divine knowledge of other people’s thoughts or the state of their hearts. Other times, Jesus challenges the people based on a question He receives or a situation that presents itself.

In our passage for this episode, Jesus challenges all His followers based on a question He receives, and from the answer Jesus shared, we are warned about salvation not being easy and how there will be a group of people who think they are safe who end up being excluded.

Our passage is found in the gospel of Luke, chapter 13, and we will be reading from the New International Version of the Bible. Starting in verse 22, Luke tells us:

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 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.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “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. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

In this passage, we see a clear warning that not everyone will be saved, even if they wanted to be. This is a challenging thing to think about especially when we know that Jesus came to save all people. Jesus died on the cross to make the way for anyone and everyone to be saved, but when asked how many will be saved, without directly saying so, Jesus strongly suggests that only a small number of people will be included.

However, from Jesus’ sobering response, can we learn anything about those who incorrectly believe they are safe so that we don’t fall into the same trap they did? Absolutely!

The first truth I see in Jesus’ response is that there will be a time when the door is closed. After this point, it appears that those who choose to repent will have decided too late. I will be the first to say that I have no idea when the door for salvation will truly close, but the clear truth in this passage is that we shouldn’t delay or stall choosing Jesus.

Whether the door for salvation closes when we take our last breath, or if there is a separate, distinct time that applies to everyone, the sad truth is that those who come knocking at the door probably would have paid attention and come sooner had they known the door was closing. We avoid making the same mistake they do by choosing today to live for God, and entering His kingdom.

The second truth I see in this passage is that those who knock outside the door are described as people who the homeowner does not know. This means in our own lives that simply knowing about God, about Jesus, or about the need for a saving relationship will not be enough to actually save someone. To put it another way, us knowing Jesus isn’t enough; what matters is that Jesus knows you and I. This is accomplished by intentionally growing a relationship with God. Regular prayer, Bible study, and living a faith-filled life that depends on God is the way we grow our relationship with Him.

In many ways this second truth is more important than the first one because the implication is that if the homeowner recognized those who knocked at the door, He would have let them in. We should not let our relationship with God drift away because life is busy or full of distractions. If we are distracted away from God, we risk Him not knowing or recognizing us when we come knocking at the door.

This is also the case if we knew Him at some point in the past. Even those who are excluded say they ate and drank with the homeowner and know He taught in their streets, but a past relationship isn’t as significant as a present one. We need a strong relationship with Jesus in the present in order to be recognized by God.

The third truth is found in the homeowner’s final reply to those knocking at his door. He tells them in verse 27, “Away from me, all you evildoers!This statement strongly suggests that doing evil will forfeit your salvation. We’ve touched on this already this year, and it is worth repeating that being saved is a gift we receive through faith, but our actions can forfeit the gift God wants to give us.

Those who find themselves on the outside will be guilty of keeping sin in their lives and letting their sin delay their decision to come to Jesus.

The final truth we will touch on for this episode is Jesus’ concluding remarks. Jesus describes Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but those He was talking to, specifically a group of Jews, being thrown out. Jesus then shares how people will come from all directions of the earth to be a part of the feast.

This strong final theme is that our ancestry, heritage, or any decision we made in the past is not enough to guarantee we will be saved. While many Jews believed that simply being a descendant of Abraham covered any fault they might have in their own lives, we fall into the same trap thinking that a single decision we made in the past is enough to cover any wrongdoing in the present. Simply being a Jew does not mean salvation any more than praying a prayer of confession into the Christian faith means we will always be saved. Each starting point needs to lead to a changed lifestyle and a focus on growing closer to Jesus!

We are saved when we focus on growing closer to Jesus to the point that Jesus knows who we are, when we don’t delay making that choice, when we live each day with our hearts and minds focused on living faithfully like Jesus did, and when we don’t rest on our past decisions or ancestry believing they alone are enough.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Intentionally make the choice to accept Jesus into your heart and life today. This is the most important single decision you can make. But don’t stop there. After making this decision, be sure to then intentionally choose to focus on growing closer to Jesus and spend time with Him each day. Focus on developing that personal relationship so that when the end comes, God will know you and open the door for you if you are not already inside.

We learn and grow closer to God and Jesus through prayer, through studying the Bible for ourselves, and through living a life of faith and dependence on God. If you need help with any of these areas, be sure to reach out and I am happy to help where I can. The important thing for each of us is to make our relationship with God our own and to not let anyone else get between us and God!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, chicken out of, or let Satan trick you into leaving where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year 4 – Episode 29: When asked how many people will be saved, Jesus shares a sobering reality that not everyone who believes themselves to be saved is correct. Discover what we can learn from this event and how to avoid facing the closed door.

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