Trinity Nineteenth Sunday Morning Prayer (10 October 2021) St. Luke 13:23 and 24
In the last two weeks, we meditated about Jesus condemning the Pharisees and the spiritual leaders because of their rituals and practices. Today’s meditation is based on our New Testament reading, the Gospel according to St. Luke chapter 13 verses 23 and 24. We know that Jesus went through the cities and villages and preached about the kingdom of heaven. When He was travelling towards Jerusalem, a certain man asked an interesting question to Jesus. We can read the question in verse 23. He asked, “Lord, are there few that be saved?” We read Jesus’s reply in verse 24. Jesus said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able”.
God created humans to praise and worship Him. He wanted them to be in close relationship with Him. But the early sin separated Adam and Eve from the presence of God. God gave them a simple instruction. Genesis 2:17 says, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die”. The consequence of sin was not physical death but spiritual death. God the Father is holy and cannot accept any sin. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they committed sin and were sent out of the Garden of Eden. They passed the sin to the next generation. The laws and commandments given by the Almighty Father when He led the Israelites out of their bondage land could not bring salvation. Sin separated humans from the presence of God. God the Father sent His only begotten son Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb to save us from sin and death. Jesus called people to repent and receive forgiveness of sins to inherit the kingdom of heaven. He died for us on the Cross. He made a new covenant with His precious blood. In our New Testament passage, Jesus gave solution to a certain man’s question about inheriting salvation. Let us meditate two important things based on our reading passage: 1) How do we receive Salvation? and 2) What is the way to receive salvation?
1) How do we receive Salvation?
There are a few verses that are quoted when we hear about ‘Salvation’. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. Verse 18 in the same chapter reads, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God”. Acts 17:30 says that the resurrected Jesus “commandeth all men every where to repent”. Ephesians 2 says that Jesus raised us from the death of sin which is spiritual death, which means He gave us salvation. Ephesians 2:5 says God “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. We do not receive salvation because of our own works or righteousness. We are saved only because of the grace of God. Salvation is like the VISA to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus said about salvation in Mark 16:16, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned”. Jesus told this to His disciples after His resurrection. In this verse, Jesus says belief and baptism are required to be saved. St. Paul said in Romans 10:9 that we need to believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved: “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. In addition, Paul also says we should confess Jesus with our mouth. Jesus and Paul said we need to believe, be baptised and confess to receive salvation.
- Believe: In Mark 16:16, Jesus said that those who do not believe will be condemned. The first step to receive salvation is to put our trust on Jesus. We must believe that He is the Son of God and only He can wash away our sins. When we put our trust on Jesus, we must repent of our sins and turn to God from our own old ways. The belief that we have on Jesus leads us to repentance and baptism. In Hebrews 6:1, St Paul calls us repent from dead works and to have faith toward God
- Baptism and Confession: Matthew 4:17 says, “Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. The second step to receive salvation is to repent. We must be washed with the Blood of the Lamb of God and receive forgiveness for our sins. Our sinful body must be washed by the blood of the Lamb of God and we must be made a new creature. Receiving Baptism is the outward symbol of us dying for our sins and raising up again with Jesus for righteousness. We proclaim we have repented and turned to God and that we are born again. We confess publicly about our faith in the Lord Jesus. We affirm we have received salvation and will live our lives following His teachings.
We must have faith or trust on Jesus to repent and turn away from our sinful lives. We must be baptised and confess our faith on Jesus in our lives. We cannot receive salvation without doing this.
2) What is the way to receive Salvation?
In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”. Jesus is the only way to receive salvation and in our reading today, Jesus said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able”. He also said to his disciples in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Christian life is not like walking on a red carpet. Christian life is living our lives upholding Jesus’ values. There are many restrictions. But Jesus asked us to walk through the narrow path and follow Him. He promised that the Holy Spirit will guide us through the right path to inherit eternal life.
Jesus expects us to endure unto the end. In Matthew 10:24, Jesus said, “he that endureth to the end shall be saved”. In Hebrews 3:14 we read, “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end”. When Jesus ministered in this world, He explained this expectation with well-known parables. In Matthew 5: 17 Jesus said “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved”. The old bottle denotes our old sinful body. When we receive salvation, our body and life is renewed in Jesus. The old things are passed away and we become a new creature. After we are renewed, we must not go back to the old sinful life. If we do, it will destroy our renewed body which we received after salvation or second birth. God expects us to be with the renewed body and endure unto the end to inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Revelation 2:26 says, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations”.
Let us examine ourselves. Jesus came as a Messiah and offered salvation to everyone. He preached about repentance and the kingdom of God. He came to prepare the people to inherit the kingdom of heaven. But His own people did not accept Jesus as Messiah. They crucified Him on the cross. We are also offered salvation through Jesus Christ. Do we believe or trust in Jesus? Do we confess our faith? If yes, are we enduring unto the end? Or are we crucifying Jesus on the Cross with our backsliding ways? Many be called, but few are chosen. Are we in the small group chosen by our LORD Jesus?
I would like to conclude with a warning from Hebrews 6:4–6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame”.
I pray the LORD God prepares and preserves us unto the end to be with Him in the kingdom of heaven for ever. Amen!