Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
Someone wrote to tell us that we over-emphasize the Good News in Matthew 11:28-30, "Come unto Me, ... and I will give you rest. ... Take My yoke ... My yoke is easy, and My burden is light." He said we don't give equal emphasis to what appears to be the opposite in Luke 13:24: "Strive [agonize] to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
The New King James Version mistranslates the parallel passage, "narrow," in Matthew 7:14 as "difficult." But the Greek word thlibo has the essential meaning of "narrow," not difficult. Jesus says you can't carry your baggage of worldly selfishness with you into fellowship with Him. You've got to drop your baggage. "Difficult"? No,--not if you are "yoked" by faith with Him.
Paul makes plain the apparent contradiction. The answer is one-ness with Christ: "I am crucified with Christ," he says (Gal. 2:20). You are never crucified alone (that would be "difficult"!). You sense your corporate fellowship with Him (see 1 Cor. 12:12-27). Read Paul's portrayal of all the "agonizing" sufferings he endured for Christ (2 Cor. 11:23-30). He ends up saying, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory, ... take pleasure" in all these sufferings for Him (12:9, 10). "Difficult? Agonizing?"
Does dropping your baggage bother you as being "difficult"? Paul is Christ's best defender: he says that if you can understand how good is Christ's Good News (in Matthew 11:28-30, for example) you'll consider all this love of self, this love-of-the-world baggage, that has so engrossed you, as being so much "garbage." You'll drop it in a moment when you see the "excellency" of being crucified with Christ (read Phil. 3:7, 8; that word "dung" in the King James Version means literally "what is thrown to the dogs"). Yes, let yourself feel ashamed--it's a healthy experience. Then you can learn to "glory" in Christ's cross.
Is "agonizing" effort "difficult"? Not if you're running a race, says Paul (1 Cor. 9:22-27). Flying up steps two at a time is fun if you're healthy.
Join the happiest man who has ever lived and died in 6000 years of history: the repentant thief who was literally "crucified with Christ" (he had the assurance, "You'll be with Me" forever). As he waited in his physical agony, he rejoiced. "Crucified!"? Am I kidding? No; I'm serious.
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: March 2, 2003.
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