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.”
THINK ABOUT IT
Jesus’ kingdom is filled with all sorts of surprising people. The people who think they already belong will find themselves excluded. The Dead Sea Scrolls community was absolutely certain about those who were going to participate in the Messianic kingdom, but Jesus created uncertainty among his audience. It’s hard to know if Jesus was also hinting at a person’s eternal destiny or only at a person’s participation in the present reality of the kingdom. The idea of a relatively small number of “saved” was already part of Jewish literature. The Jewish apocalypse book of 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) says, “Many have been created, but only a few shall be saved” (verse 8:3).
TALK ABOUT IT
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