by Jeff Curtis
We are confronted with choices daily. Sometimes we choose between good and better. Other times we may choose between the lesser of two evils. In the text of Matthew 7:13-27, the choices are clearly between good and evil. We must choose between the following: (1) Walking on the narrow way or the broad way (vv.13,14); (2) Producing good or bad fruit (vv.15-20); (3) Being obedient or disobedient (vv.21-23); or (4) Building on rock or sand (vv.24-27).
In these verses, Jesus used the figure of a path to describe the choice between two ways of life leading to two very different destinies. Which of the two paths we choose is completely up to us. From the beginning of creation – starting with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden – God has allowed people to make their own choices.
The Christian life is often described as a “way.” In fact, that is one of the names by which the early church was known (Acts 9:2; 24:14). The psalmist described the choice between “the way of the righteous” and “the way of the wicked” (Psalm 1:1-6). In a prophecy that point to the coming of the Christian era, Isaiah wrote; “A highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it (Isaiah 35:8).
In writing to encourage his readers to overcome spiritual exhaustion, the author of Hebrews said to “strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees of the feeble, and make straight paths for your feet” (Hebrews 12:12-13).
As the Israelites were preparing to enter Canaan, Moses assembled the people together to give them a parting message and to inform them that he would not be going with them into the promised land (Deut. 31:12). In his last address, he made an impassioned plea for them to be faithful to God (Deut. 30:19).
Just before his death, Joshua also challenged Israel, saying; “Now fear the Lord and serve Him with faithfulness. Throw away the gods of your forefathers worshiped beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of your forefathers beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Josh. 24:14, 15).
When the northern kingdom was almost completely carried away into the worship of Baal, Elijah met the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. He refuted the combining of religious beliefs among the Israelites and asked, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him” (1Kings 18:21).
Jeremiah reminded the people of Judah of the choice before them: either to remain in Jerusalem and be destroyed along with it or be destroyed along with it or flee from it as the judgment of God was approaching. He wrote, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death” (Jer. 31:8).
From the beginning, God has made it plain that people really have two options. We can choose to obey God or to disobey Him. There are not many ways to God; there is only one (John 14:6). There are not many roads leading to heaven; there is only one (Matt. 7:14). We must choose between true religion and false religion (Matt. 15:9). The Sermon on the Mount is a contrast between the righteousness of God that will lead to eternal life and the hypocrisy of scribes and Pharisees that will lead to eternal death (Matt. 5:20).