Will Just a Few Be Saved?
Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). Before dying to save the lost, He spent three years seeking the lost through His preaching and teaching. Near the end of His life, as He was making His way toward Jerusalem, someone asked Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” (Luke 13:23). Luke does not tell us who asked the question, neither do we know whether it was asked sincerely or critically.
Jesus had plainly answered this question earlier in His sermon on the mount. “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). In our text, however, He answered it in a different way, making four important points.
1) Salvation calls for our best effort. “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (v. 24). Strive comes from an athletic word that means to agonize. While Jesus is the door (John 10:9) who generously offers eternal life by grace, salvation is no casual matter. It demands serious attention. How many will be saved? is not the question. Will I be saved? is the question!
2) Opportunities are limited; don’t procrastinate. “Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from’” (v. 25).
3) Mere association with Jesus is not enough; we must be disciples. “Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers’” (vv. 26-27). Jesus’ answer in the sermon on the mount emphasizes actually doing the Father’s will (Matthew 7:21-23), not just attaching Jesus’ name to our activities.
4) There may be some surprises. “In that place 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, but yourselves being thrown out. And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last” (vv. 28-30). Jesus’ listeners would not at all be surprised to find faithful Old Testament saints among the saved; they expected that. Some of them would be surprised by the inclusion of so many Gentiles in the number. But their biggest surprise would be their own rejection if they did not change.
Perhaps we can summarize Jesus’ answer this way. Yes, few will be saved. Some you expect to be saved will not be. Some you do not expect to be saved will be. Make sure you are!