Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV):

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.

What is it that makes it so unlikely and difficult for people to even find the narrow path to life (let alone stay on it)? Couldn't things have been done differently so that it was the other way around?

  • Cloud not reconcile this verse as it is opposite what God Says in Tanakh... Jonah 4:11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Ezekiel 18:31 Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? 32 For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!....
    – Yeddu
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 9:54

8 Answers 8


““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. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:13-14‬ ‭

Let’s define life

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬ ‭

Jesus is the life

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:25‬ ‭

Jesus is the means of attaining the life

Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” ‭‭1 John‬ ‭5:12‬ ‭

If you have the Son, you have life, specifically eternal life

““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” ‭‭John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭

It seems simple enough - find the Son, believe in Him and you’ll have found life eternal. But it’s not that simple! Because coming to the Son is done only by the Father. There is a prerequisite.

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:44‬ ‭

So how does the Father draw someone then?

“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:45, 47‬ ‭

How does one truly believe? They first must be taught of God. This teaching is found in the Scriptures

“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:25-27‬ ‭

Or in the words of the eunuch

“So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭8:30-31‬ ‭

To summarize thus far,

  • In order to find Jesus, the Father must draw the person through the word,
  • If he believes the words of the Scriptures, the Father will draw him to the fulfillment of the Scriptures, Jesus

“They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:32‬ ‭

There is an issue that Paul points out with regards to the a availability of the word

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭

Which is what Jesus said

“It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me—” ‭‭John‬ ‭6:45‬ ‭

There is a time when the word can be heard

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’”” ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭3:7-8, 11‬ ‭

For there are times of famine

““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.” ‭‭Amos‬ ‭8:11‬,12

How shall they hear, in order that they might believe and be saved? For Jesus recognized that it’s through hearing that faith comes which is why He opted to speak in parables so that they might not hear, for they had stiffened there necks and hardened their hearts.

“he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:10‬ ‭

This means faith is not the gift, but salvation is the gift Ephesians 2:8, as the Greek would also agree.

“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:14-15‬ ‭

So therefore to be taught by the Father, requires the hearing of the Scriptures and requires someone to explain the Scriptures. And if after hearing the Scriptures someone believes, then the Father will draw them to Jesus, who is the fulfillment of the Scriptures.

How does this tie into your question?

“Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith?” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭

Clearly this is a work of faith that comes by hearing. It is very difficult to have faith when you’ve never heard. Hence the gate is narrow because the requirement is faith in Scriptures. Few people even hear the good news found in the OT that point to Jesus.

And of those that do find it, they must also remain in faith until the end.

“Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭14:12‬ ‭

There is no guarantee of crossing the finish line, just because one entered through the gate. Salvation can be lost. Jesus won’t lose you, the Father won’t let anyone snatch you out of His hand but you can opt out.

“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭2:26‬ ‭

Faith without works is dead. Sure receiving the free gift of salvation is by grace, it’s free, no one can boast to have merited receiving acceptance but remaining on the narrow way is HARD and requires effort.

“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” ‭‭John‬ ‭15:8, 10‬ ‭

This requires active engagement and choice. The seed of the word can be stifled

“And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” ‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:18-19‬ ‭

In other words, they received the word, it germinated in faith, were on their way to blossoming and then they started to concern themselves with this life instead of The Life that comes from the word. They don’t end up having fruit, or they satisfied themselves with their initial portion of oil, they didn’t get any more oil in their lamp, they didn’t collect interest on their talent/mina of gold, they buried it and did nothing other than initially believe, receive and quote the mantra, “God is Sovereign, once saved always saved”, putting the blame on God for their lack of industriousness and obedience to remaining and obeying His word.

By process of elimination,

  • the number of those who find the gate by hearing the gospel are already less than 100%,
  • of those, only a percentage that believe the words of the Scriptures find Jesus/life
  • and of those, only a percentage who stay the full course and endure until the end, because the road is hard, will actually find life.

Sure God extends His invitation to everyone, wanting none to perish and true Nineveh all responded correctly in changing their mind and humbling themselves at the preaching of God’s word through Jonah but in time they drifted away.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:12-13‬ ‭

Yes, God wills to work in us, but only if we humble ourselves and allow Him to work. Getting carried away with the concerns of this life alone, will stifle God’s good work in us.

““Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:46‬ ‭

““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:21‬

  • 1
    Man, what an outstanding answer. +1. I do believe however that even though man re-rebelling or drifting away God can restore them again because of his desire for man to be saved, usually not without sufferings and disciplines from the Father though.
    – user35803
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 13:32
  • 2
    (Up-voted +1.) In the nature of Deity and in the nature of fallen humanity, it is impossible for any man to be saved. The wonder is not that there are few : the wonder is that there are any at all. Only with God, are all things possible. With man, it is impossible. Thoroughly excellent answer.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 14:21

Narrowness of gate, the hardness of way has, as far (and not very far I admit) as I can see, two significances:

  1. It is narrow and hard because majority of humanity is attached to futile and transient things, so that Christ's commandments that lead to eternal life and are about the invisible, eternal realities, which no thief can steal, look for majority of humanity unbearably hard. For that reason they prefer not to fight their own attachments but rather reject the way of salvation and keep up with their habitual ways. For instance, if a man is accustomed to watch baseball Sunday afternoons and he sees that his acceptance of Christianity (which he indeed believes to be the only true doctrine) will oblige him to miss watching the baseball game and go to Church instead. This man can find it impossibly hard to abandon baseball watching habit and make a choice for Christianity. How many people reject Christ due to their attachment to different things or ideas! Majority, in fact, as unfortunate as it is. But those who choose Christ and His way, will find that it is difficult to overcome the past futile attachments and substitute them by Christly attachments, but the game is worth playing, for the Helper is God, Christ Himself, so what was hard, will become eventually "light and sweet".

  2. In any instance, divine vision is stranger, more paradoxical than human, and human has to make an additional movement, "leap" of faith to expose oneself to the divine, for usual and habitual is human, whereas divine is strange, paradoxical, mind-blowing and human-heart-transcending. A Rock musician, I heard of, had a choice to follow a long-trodden path of other musicians and get much money from it, but he chose his own creative experimentations into secrets of Rock music, with no prospect of success, but he still chose this second path to get exposed to something really new, really untrodden, unseen and interesting. This is to choose a difficult road of salvation, for finite categories - money, material comfort, easily achievable and commonly known delights - is death of soul, while exposure to creative novelty and divine strangeness - a life of it. But not many are Jimmy Hendrix-es, majority are epigones.

  • Hi Levan, uhm, doesn't this places quite a bit of emphasis on men, I mean isn't the whole process God working on and with men to achieve his purposes?
    – user35803
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 13:02
  • 3
    @snoopy Without God nothing can be achieved, but unless man co-acts with God and His gifts, then nothing will be achieved. No, I am no Augustinian, in his more extreme indulgences in ideas on God’a grace, nor, God forbid, a Calvinist. Commented May 10, 2021 at 13:07
  • Well said. It was worth asking. God bless you with more wisdom and sound mind.
    – user35803
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 13:26
  • @snoopy Thanks, God bless you too Commented May 10, 2021 at 15:08
  • 1
    @JamesBender Flattered infinitely! :) Commented May 10, 2021 at 19:14

You may or may not realize that your question contains the seeds of the odicean debate. The German philosopher and mathematician Leibnitz (or Leibniz, 1646-1716) coined the term "theodicy" to describe the necessity of defending God and His attributes against the attacks of His critics who blame Him for the existence of physical and moral evil.

More than once, I have struggled with the thorny issue of theodicy, particularly when I come across the term remnant in Scripture. A remnant, by definition, is a group of survivors. Usually, however, the survivors comprise a relatively small number of people.

In your question, you quoted Jesus when he said,

. . . The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few [my emphasis].

The word few and the word remnant indicate to me that those who will be saved--the elect, if you will--comprise a minority of humanity. Only a minority, Jesus said, find (and choose) the narrow gate and the hard way. The majority, on the other hand, prefer the wide gate (which accommodates a large crowd of people!) and the easy way. In part, I suggest, they prefer the easy way because it does not require repentance, which involves turning from sin and pursuing righteousness.

People by nature and practice desire autonomy. They are repulsed by the idea that God wants them to change their way of life. Repenting of and forsaking sin is not attractive to an unbeliever, unless and until the Holy Spirit creates conviction in their heart and opens their spiritual eyes to see that their sin separates them from God and his forgiveness.

In answer to your question, then, about why the path to life couldn't be easy to enter and easy to follow, well, we dare not question God's wisdom in not making it so. The fact is, not one person deserves to find, enter, and follow the path to life.

That God saves anyone at all is a miracle of His love and grace, His goodness and mercy. God wants heaven to be populated by people who want to be there because they have fallen in love with His only begotten Son, who died the death they deserved and rose again for their justification. God refuses to force anyone into his kingdom who does not want to be there. He would cease being a loving God if He did.

  • 1
    Installing a wider gate and adding some attractive frills would hardly be forcing anyone to go through it. Besides that, the sense of "choosing" you seem to convey, is that between one door that is obviously right and one that is obviously wrong. Instead, the game is setup so that everyone has unequal levels of totally incomplete information concerning each gate. I believe the translated words "find it" are much better suited to reality than "choose" and "prefer". Thus, if we are convinced we've found the way, we are to light its path for others to see. Commented May 10, 2021 at 19:59
  • To add to my previous comment. I do not believe the narrowness of the gate alludes to the fact that few people will choose to enter through it, or that only a few people prefer it. Instead, following the allegory, the narrowness of the gate is the very reason that few will find it. Commented May 10, 2021 at 20:01
  • 1
    @JamesBender: I agree with you regarding the word "find," and I have added the word several times to my answer. After all, Jesus used the word "find" in the passage. I will say in my defense, however, that once the gate is found, a person chooses to enter it. A person upon finding the gate does not say to themselves, "Wow! I've found the gate," and then not enter it. Don Commented May 12, 2021 at 13:02

Already an accepted answer, as well as several high rated responses - nevertheless I will add a [late] different view. But one that takes into account context. Something I don’t clearly see in some. Because it makes all the difference!

Too many try to apply this passage to fit their doctrine. In particular, their doctrine of salvation. However this passage is not talking about salvation. This passage is talking about life - and the accepted answer defines ‘life’ - using a passage from John about eternal ’life’ - but, at this stage, Jesus hadn’t even died yet!

You need to define ‘life’ the way it’s being used in this passage, not from the way it’s used in some other part of the Bible. This whole ‘sermon’ is talking about how to ‘live’ life ‘right’. And the ‘key’ is to not do it focused on ‘you’, but to focus on God.

MAT 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life,

MAT 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.*

So the section your quoting, is related to what Jesus has been talking about for two chapters. This is part of the same ‘sermon’. So what are the two paths? (note, it’s really about the paths - not the gates! The paths leading to the gates.)

The paths are either turning around and walking a different’path’ towards the ‘kingdom’ or staying on the same path your already on - it’s comfortable, it ‘suits and appeals’ to the flesh. And it’s ‘easy’. But it will lead to destruction.

At this time - in Matthew - Jesus was preaching the Kingdom. He was looking to be accepted as their king - Messiah! John had been preparing the people for this ....

**MAT 3:2 ** And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Then Jesus came ...

MAT 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Your quote from Matthew 7 immediately follows. The ‘paths’ are about living in the kingdom. And yes - this does apply to us as well, but, these paths are not about a path to ‘eternal life’, they are about life here on earth - and how to achieve an abundant life! Eternal life only comes through righteousness. And no path you walk will achieve this for you. Righteousness is a gift! You don’t ‘walk’ to earn it! You can’t ‘get’ this just by walking another path! Yes, righteousness will make you walk ‘differently’, but it’s not something you get for walking differently, just by taking ‘another’ path.

But you can experience a life ‘here’ that is more fulfilling - but you will have to ignore your ‘flesh’ - and that’s hard, and many won’t take this step, let alone walk the path!

  • Are you suggesting someone can attain life through good works? Commented May 11, 2021 at 21:48
  • Notice the order, first it’s the gate then is the way, then is finding life. It has to start with faith in Jesus and then yes, obedience to Him leads to entering into the kingdom. So there are two entrances, one enters “twice”, one is Christ, the other is the kingdom’s Luke 13:25 Commented May 11, 2021 at 21:52
  • @Nihil Sine Deo “Are you suggesting someone can attain life through good works” - No, not me - the passage is saying you can attain [a good] ‘life’ through right living. Important! - ‘life’ here in this context is not ‘eternal’ life, it is ‘life’ here on earth. (Eternal life’ only comes with Gods righteousness.)
    – Dave
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 22:30
  • Hmmm... I think the martyrs would disagree with you. I don’t see it. The context requires first entering through the narrow gate which is Christ, that automatically makes it about righteous living from God. And then it says the road is HARD. I don’t see a guarantee for a “good life”. Still trying to understand you. But I feel like you separated Christ centered living from moral living. Most people living a moral life are on the wide road Commented May 11, 2021 at 23:22
  • @Nihil Sine Deo Oh, not just you, but many/most will probably disagree. My point was take this in context. Jesus hadn’t died yet! - so salvation as we experience it can’t be applied to this teaching - nevertheless many try anyway. No, Jesus was talking about the Kingdom of Heaven - which needs Him as king. But they [later] reject this. (But it will come!) This kingdom will be about living ‘right’. About ‘what you do. Your ‘works’ will matter. But, this ‘living right’ is not the basis for salvation. That only comes from God - he alone is the source of the righteousness we need.
    – Dave
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 23:45

What is it that makes it so unlikely and difficult for people to even find the narrow path to life [...]

Other translations render the word "gate" as "door:"

Matthew 7:14
14For narrow is the door and hard the road to life, and only a small number make discovery of it.
(The Bible in Basic English. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2006.)

Jesus identified Himself as "the door" by which people will be safe, through whom one enters the fold or flock:

John 10:9(a)
9aI am the door; anyone who come into the fold through me will be safe.
(The Revised English Bible. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1989.)

Paul tells the Ephesians that the fold or flock is the Church of Christ:

Acts 20:28
28Take heed therefore to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers, to feed the church of Christ which he has purchased with his blood.
(Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text: George M. Lamsa’s Translation from the Aramaic of the Peshitta. Philadelphia USA: A.J. Holman Co., 1968.)

Paul confirms in his epistle to the Ephesians that the Church is what Christ is Savior of, also calling it the body of Christ:

Eph. 5:23
23For a husband has authority over his wife just as Christ has authority over the church; and Christ is himself the Savior of the church, his body.
(Good News Bible: Today’s English Version. New York: United Bible Societies, 1992.)

Paul clarified in the previous chapter that there is only one body, which consists of one faith, having but one God, the Father:

Eph. 4:4-6
4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

Considering that Christianity is divided against itself, professing not one faith but several, the body, then, refers not to a collection of churches, but to a single Church.

Those who find the door to life have found Christ, and those who have found Christ, have found His Church. However, taking into account that there are at least 41,000 churches today that profess to be Christian, those who have found the one true Church are vastly outnumbered by those who have not. Hence why the Scripture says regarding the door to life, that "those who find it are few."

Couldn't things have been done differently so that it was the other way around?

One would think that when it came to salvation, Jesus could do away with the need for a church at all, not to mention the need for one specific Church.

However, one should keep in mind the manner in which Christ saves, in that He died for our sins:

Rom. 5:8-9
8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

This, Jesus is free to do so long as it does not violate God's command, that each one should die for their own sin:

Deut. 24:16
16"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their fathers; a person shall be put to death for his own sin.
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

This, He does by saving His Church, which is linked to Christ―with Him as it's head, and the Church as His own body:

Col. 1:18(a)
18aAnd He is the head of the body, the church,
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

In God's sight, these two components form but a single person, "one new man:"

Eph. 2:15
15having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,
(Holy Bible: New King James Version. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1982.)

Hence, Jesus is free to die for the sins of those in His Church, as if they were His own sins. He cannot, however, without violating God's law, do the same for those who are outside of His body or Church.

Thus, the Scripture tells us that those who are outside the Church will be judged by God:

I Cor. 5:13
15God will judge those outside the church. So you must put that sinful person out of your church.
(The Holy Bible: New Life Version. Uhrichsville, Ohio: Barbour Publishing, Inc., 2003.)

Hence, while the door is still open, we are instructed to strive to enter through the narrow door:

Luke 13:24-25
24"Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25"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.'
(The New American Standard Bible. New York, New York: American Bible Society, 1991.)

Spiritual gravity is pulling everybody down. If we want to “soar upwards” towards the spiritual heaven where freedom from spiritual heaviness exist, we must resist it. This is a struggle that is too hard for most people, according to the quoted words of Jesus in the question.

Spiritual gravity/heaviness are caused by Satan, the world, and our flesh. The former is portrayed in Mark 4:15; the middle in Mark 4:16,17; and the latter in Mark 4:18,19.

Mark 4:15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.

Mark 4:16,17 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Mark 4:18,19 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.


I think the passage makes it clear why many people are unable to find the path... Because the Bible claims there is just one path to salvation, while there are infinitely many ways that lead to destruction.

Of course, if we were all choosing paths completely-randomly, the odds of finding one specific path among infinitely many would be nil, and you would expect about that many people to find it. Clearly, most are not living their lives totally randomly; But in the absence of prior information as to where a path would lead them, how could they know which path leads to the most favorable outcome without having first traversed it themselves? Some paths have clear and immediate negative consequences, and most people easily avoid them. But many paths — again I emphasize infinitely many — give no indication of the slightest destructive potential and even offer obvious benefits in this reality.

Thus, the only way left for one to find the right path would be information. This can come through divine inspiration/guidance of different forms: religious experiences, logical argument, pure child-like faith in teachings of others whom have found the way, and a plethora of other media. Unfortunately, there seem to be many alternative paths, already traversed, that offer religious experiences and sound arguments in their favor. And clearly, even if you are one who is capable of believing in something that hasn't impacted your senses or your judgement, it is only by chance that you will be in contact with a teacher who both earns your trust and is teaching you the correct way. We are all navigating with varying amounts of obscure and incomplete information, yet (supposedly) being judged by a singular rubric.

As to whether things could have been done differently, that would depend on your philosophy. Some believe that this is the "Best of All Possible Worlds." Perhaps there's some underlying principle that makes it impossible to have been any other way. For instance, maybe the mere existence of free will implies the creation of infinite alternative paths. So God, desiring free-will for us, had to accept the consequence. Or maybe god could have done things differently, but this is how god prefers it — a malevolent god is not outside the realm of possibilities.

  • It appears your path detoured from the philosophy stack to Biblical hermeneutics. Commented May 10, 2021 at 20:24
  • Yes, I felt compelled to reply as I was shocked by a couple of notions presented here that people are "choosing" the wrong gate. As if they've been given perfect information about what is the right way, but are too attached to the material world to pick it. One person even implied that the allegorical narrowness of the gate refers to nothing more than the fact that many will not give up earthly pleasures like a baseball game in exchange for the Truth — and this is the top answer! Commented May 10, 2021 at 20:46
  • (-1) Hi James, welcome to BH.SE - thanks for contributing! I empathise with your answer and reasoning, but this SE is focused on hermeneutics and exegesis, and this answer doesn't relate in any way to the text in focus here, and doesn't list any others to support its reasoning. Please do take some time to look around some other questions and the Site Tour to find out more about the typical expectations for Questions and Answers here.
    – Steve can help
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 20:54
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    From what I’ve seen, Hermeneutics is about the interpretation of the text. I have chosen to interpret the narrowness of the gate as being literally narrow, as in hard to see or difficult to find. Rather than hard to fit through/ or too challenging a path as others suggest. My response is equally, if not more on topic than the top answer which suggests the text to be interpreted as a choice between baseball games and Salvation. Commented May 10, 2021 at 21:22
  • For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened‭‭R1:18-22‬ Commented May 10, 2021 at 21:55

The life that Jesus wants to lead us to is the life of the spirit, which is in many ways directly opposed to the life of the flesh and the things of this world.

  • Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what good will it do a person if he gains the whole world, but forfeits his soul? — Matthew 16:24-26

"For the gate is narrow and the way is hard." How we interpret these words may vary depending on our individual experience and perspective. To me, the way that Jesus calls us to live is hard because, like swimming against the current, it requires us to go against the very instincts and inclinations that have evolved precisely to help us cope and survive in this world.

Consider the “fight-or-flight” response (used here in the ordinary sense and not the clinical definition of the term). To “deny” oneself (Mt 16:24) goes against our inclination to flee from life’s difficulties through the various means of distraction and escape in our world, many of which lead to temptations that can cause us to lose our way (James 1:14-15).

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it." To be willing to lose one’s life goes against our basic instinct to protect and defend ourselves against threat and harm.

  • Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who are abusive to you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. — Luke 6:27-30

Not only is the way difficult to follow, but the gate is narrow. The image of this narrow gate brings to mind the many verses that call us to be humble and small, and to let go of worldly treasures and concerns.

  • Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. — Matthew 6:19

  • Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 18:3-4

The OP asks, “Couldn't things have been done differently?” The way is indeed narrow, difficult, and hard to find. It's very difficulty distinguishes it from the short cuts and easy answers that are offered by the world. “Then who can be saved?” (Mt 19:25) On our own it is impossible, but we are not called to go alone but to take up our cross and follow Jesus, for with God "all things are possible":

  • Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. — Matthew 7:7-8

  • “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them, Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” — Matthew 19:25-26

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