Life is all about stories and every person has a story. God, too, has a story – the grand metanarrative – that makes sense of every human story; for the sacred Scriptures make known two kinds of wisdom so that every human being can make sense of, and interpret properly, his or her story in light of His story:
+. a soteriological wisdom: to make us wise unto salvation which is by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15)
+. a hermeneutical wisdom: to help us make sense of life’s story in light of His story and the many stories recorded in Scripture (Matthew 13:11, 16-17, 51-52; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)
One third of the recorded teaching of Jesus consisted of parables. In the parables, Jesus is describing the kingdom of God in action and telling us something that happens when God is busy re-establishing Himself as King among humankind.
In the parables of “the unknown hour” and the “two gates,” what essential teaching does Jesus share with us about how people are to respond to the Good News of the Kingdom so that we might benefit from its wisdom and grow in our discipleship as “a wise scribe, trained for the kingdom” (Matthew 13:52)
42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Points to consider:
+. there will be a day of judgment and, on that day, every person will come before Him and He will separate the believers from the unbelievers
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18)
+. when the day of judgment arrives, a wise person will have…
+. entered by the narrow gate that leads to life
+. trusted in the saving work of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and is clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:19-25a)
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe…”
+. built one’s life upon the words of Jesus and puts them into practice (the parable of the two foundations – Matthew 7:24-27)
+. Jesus, in the parable of the unknown hour, strongly encourages us to always be ready and prepared for His coming; “for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect”
+. a parallel parable that illustrates the vital importance of always being ready for His coming is “the parable of the ten maidens”
+. the setting of that parable has ten maidens waiting for the bridegroom to come and for the wedding to begin; yet the wait is unusually long so that when the bridegroom did arrive, five maidens were ready but the other five maidens were not ready (and they missed out on the wedding event)
+. no one knows the time of His return, except the Father, so one should always be ready and prepared!
+. there are only two kinds of people…believers who have entered by the narrow gate that leads to life or unbelievers who have entered by the broad gate that leads to destruction
+. as Luther reminds us in his writing, “Bondage of the Will,” there is no third or middle kingdom
“I call a man ungodly if he is without the Spirit of God; for Scripture says that the Spirit is given to justify the ungodly. As Christ distinguished the Spirit from the flesh, saying: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and adds that what is born of the flesh “cannot see the kingdom of God,” it obviously follows that whatever is flesh is ungodly, under God’s wrath, and a stranger to His kingdom. And if it is a stranger to God’s kingdom and Spirit, it follows of necessity that it is under the kingdom of and spirit of Satan. For there is no middle kingdom between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, which are ever at war with each other (Bondage of the Will:252-253).
“For if it is only by faith that we are justified, it is evident that they who are without faith are not yet justified; and those who are not justified are sinners; and sinners are evil trees, and can only sin and bear evil fruit (BOW:301).
“Christians know that there are in the world two kingdoms at war with each other. In the one, Satan reigns (which is why Christ calls him “the prince of this world”) and he holds captive at his will all that are not wrested from him by the Spirit of Christ; not does he allow them to be plucked away by any other power but the Spirit of God, as Christ tells us in the parable of the strong man armed keeping his palace in peace. In the other kingdom, Christ reigns. His kingdom continually resists and wars against that of Satan; and we are translated into His kingdom, not by our own power, but by the grace of God, which delivers us from this present evil world and tears us away from the power of darkness (BOW:312).
In closing, let us impress these words from Scripture upon our hearts that address the need of every person to hear believe in Him and be ready for His coming:
“And He will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken…it will be said on that day, ‘Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that He might save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isaiah 25:7-9)
“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:11-12)