Tuesday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: St. Luke 13:18-35 (NKJV)
18 Then He said, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.”
20 And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? 21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.”
22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”
31 On that very day some Pharisees came, saying to Him, “Get out and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.” 32 And He said to them, “Go, tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.’ 33 Nevertheless I must journey today, tomorrow, and the day following; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.
34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See! Your house is left to you desolate; and assuredly, I say to you, you shall not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!'”
The true family of God is one that is constructed out of faith in Jesus Christ. Neither our ancestors nor our good works will get us into the Kingdom. Many who rightly understand that their lineage is of no importance before God somehow fail to see that their good works will not let them past the gates of Heaven. Yes, Jesus wants us to strive to enter through the narrow gate, but this striving is not the striving of good works. It is the striving of repentance. It is the ongoing life of repentance of those who are baptized. It is the ongoing life of faith of the believer.
Jesus said to strive because there would be many who will seek to enter and will not be able. Those who are not able are those who depended on some lineage or some past event to save them, but were not willing to live the life of repentance and faith. They had an “insurance policy”, not God. They wanted to be their own god, to create their own standard, to be responsible to no one. But striving in faith is the only way to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And this striving faith is not easy to live out day to day. That is why it is called striving or struggling. The life of striving faith often calls on us to do things that we do not necessarily like doing. It also, quite often, makes us hated among our neighbors. But Jesus gives us the strength to carry on through the striving life of faith. He strengthens us with His Word and Sacraments. He lets us know that He will supply all our needs.