Forgive me for offering yet another explanation for Jesus saying, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate.”
Jesus drew that image from the walled towns in which the main gate was their most important structure. The town’s gate was a roofed structure housing rows of benches on which the town’s elders took their places day after day. They were the town’s court who deliberated over, and made binding decisions on, all property and personal disputes.
Those elders were also the wardens of the huge town gate, ordering it opened to let farmers stream out to their fields and to let traders bustle in with their wares. But if there were robbers or the plague loose in the surrounding, the elders ordered the gates slammed tight. Strangers shut out by the bolted great gate had no way to plead their way in.
A clever few earnest townsmen would have established a way of avoiding being locked out. They knew of a narrow gate hidden by brambles on a hilly tract behind the town. They knew how to locate that gate, but as well, they would have time and again picked their tortuous ways around to it, making themselves known to the old gate keeper.
The transferring of that metaphor to our lives would call for us having beaten a steady path to the church and to the homes of the needy whom we make a practice of helping.
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