Theme: The Narrow Way
In this week’s lessons, we focus on the wise men’s route back home, and look at what that means for us today.
Scripture: Matthew 2:12
Let me share with you a few things about this narrow way that God’s people follow. First, it’s a definite way. I’d like to give you a verse that teaches this clearly. Isaiah 30:21 says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’” We need a definite way in which to walk in the midst of a confusing world. Apart from God’s definite way we don’t know where we’re going, and so we wander in this direction or that.
But then the Lord Jesus Christ comes, who is himself the way, and who sets us upon the way in which we should go, because it is the only way that leads to life. One of the descriptions of the early Christians was that of “the Way.” They were once lost, but now had found the right way because God had revealed it to them. And now we’re determined to walk in that same way by the grace of God.
We need this kind of clear direction, and we need preachers who will point people to this definite way. Years ago, I’m told that there was a visitor to a museum in England. The guide was taking the visitor around, and as he came to one of the displays the visitor asked the guide which of these characters was Wellington and which was Napoleon. And the guide said, “Anyone, you like. You have paid your money, and you may take your choice.”
That’s the way some preaching seems to be. I heard not long ago of a young seminarian who was being examined by a candidate committee of a presbytery. He was very concerned to find out the theological orientation of the committee. Somebody asked him later why he was so concerned. He answered that he had a statement of faith for each orientation. He had a conservative statement, a liberal statement and a neo-orthodox statement. When he found out what theological leaning the committee had, that’s the one he gave them. Imagine taking that approach to the ministry and to the handling of the Word of God! Telling people only what they want to hear is not the way of the Lord Jesus Christ. The way of the Lord Jesus Christ is a definite way, and that needs to be our way, too.
Second, the way of the Lord is a perfect way. There’s no imperfection with our God. If we find imperfection in our life, it’s because we’ve gotten out of his way. As Psalm 18:30, 32 says, “As for God, his way is perfect…It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” So the God who has a perfect way also has a perfect way for his children. We are to walk in his way, striving to do what he gives us to do and living as he calls us to live. And if we do this, we can go through life with the confidence that the sovereign God makes no mistakes.
Third, God’s way is an assured way. His way is guaranteed to get us where we’re going. In Romans 6:22 Paul writes, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” When you set out upon the way of the King, you get to the King’s destination.
This would make a great difference in the way many of us live. Some Christians are so uncertain in the Christian life. We take a step, but then we’re afraid that it maybe wasn’t the right one, and so we step back to where we were before. But Jesus says that he has set before us a certain and assured way, and he is bringing us forward to our heavenly home that he has prepared for us. That should give us great confidence in our Christian life.
It should also give us joy, which is the fourth point. God’s way is a joyful way. This does not mean that there are no trials, but this joy comes in the midst of the trials. We find it in the Christmas story, including in the experience of the wise men, who after following the star were led to Jesus and rejoiced exceedingly. We’re also told of the shepherds who glorified and praised God after they had been to the manger and seen the infant Christ. Moreover, the angels had said to them that the news they were bringing was a joyful message to all men.
Have you known the joy of Christmas, the joy of having the revelation of God in Christ and therefore the great questions of life answered and the great dilemmas solved? Have you had the joy of entering into a personal relationship with God? That is the message of Christmas, and that’s the reason why this way is commended to you.
What is the first thing that characterizes the way of Christ? How do we find this characteristic challenged today?
What is the second characteristic of the Lord’s way? How do we experience this in our own lives?
List the third characteristic of God’s way. Why is this important?
What is the fourth characteristic of the narrow way?
Application: Can you recall a time in your life when your path was hard, and you wondered what the Lord was doing in it? What did you learn during those dark days? And if you are going through them now, how is the Lord at work in your life to make you more holy?
Key Point: We are to walk in his way, striving to do what he gives us to do and living as he calls us to live. And if we do this, we can go through life with the confidence that the sovereign God makes no mistakes.