Sermon for 08.21.22 “The Open Door”

Pentecost 11 (Proper 16), August 21, 2022

Text: Luke 13:22–30
Theme: The Open Door
Other Lessons: Isaiah 66:18–23; Psalm 50:1–15; Hebrews 12:4–24 (25–29)

A. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
B. The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
C. Grace, mercy, and peace from God our heavenly Father and from our Lord
and Savior, Jesus Christ.
D. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
526 You Are the Way; through You Alone
You are the way; through You alone
Can we the Father find;
In You, O Christ, has God revealed
His heart and will and mind.

You are the truth; Your Word alone
True wisdom can impart;
You only can inform the mind
And purify the heart.


A. Every day we enter and exit doors:
1. The door to the bathroom.
2. The door to the house.
3. The door to the car.
4. The door to the store.
5. The door to the office.
6. And today, as you came to worship, the door to the church.
B. But have you ever had one of those experiences where you came up to a
door and it was locked?
1. When I was in junior high school, I was known as a “latch key kid.”
2. That means, I had a key to the house I lived in and would let myself in
after school.
3. One day after school I was to let myself in with my house key.
4. That is kind of hard to do when I forgot to bring my key with me that
5. Guess what? The door was locked and I couldn’t get in!
6. Therefore I improvised:
A. I went to the backyard.
B. My room had two windows,
C. Thankfully, I was able to take off the outside screen and open the
window which was unlocked.
D. I lifted myself up enough onto the window sill to pull myself in.
E. Lesson I learned that day: don’t forget to bring your keys with you!!
C. Talk about disappointment when that front door to my house was locked
and I had no way to get in!
1. I want you to keep that image of a door in mind today as we look at our
text from Luke 13.
3. Posing Question: “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

A. Our text begins with someone posing a question to Jesus: “Lord, will
those who are saved be few?” (verse 23).
1. This was a common debate at that time amongst the rabbis.
2. Who and how many are going to be saved?
B. And even today, people debate this question.
1. What’s the standard for salvation?
2. What about those who just live a good life?
3. Will they be saved?
4. What if someone never has a chance to hear about Jesus?
5. Do they get a “pass”?
6. Will that person be saved?
C. But Jesus brings it from theoretical to practical.
1. Rather than asking, “Will those who are saved be few?” he essentially
asked, “Will the saved be you?”
2. There’s a shift from the few to you.
3. And that is where we need to focus our conversation.
4. You’re here.
5. You’re listening.
6. And the question is, “Will you be saved?”
2. Open Door, Open Invitation: “Make every effort to enter through the
narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be

A. And so, Jesus said to them:
1. “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will
seek to enter and will not be able” (verse 24).
2. Now, here with the image of a narrow door, Jesus gives an answer to the
theoretical question:
A. “Yes, only a few will be saved.
B. Many will attempt to enter and will be turned away.”
3. So let’s talk more about the narrow door.
A. It’s possible that this is a reference to a small gate next to the main
city gate where latecomers could enter.
B. However, the door could also be a reference to someone’s estate—hence,
the kingdom of God.
B. Regardless, there is a narrow door.
1. And Jesus says that it will take effort to enter.
2. Perhaps this word needs a little clarification.
3. The word for “effort” in Greek is agonizomai, where we get our word
A. It suggests that there is a level of striving and struggle in the
Christian life.
B. In the first century, the word agon referred to the Greco-Roman games,
where men fought against one another.
C. Paul uses this same word in 1 Timothy 6:12 to refer to our efforts to
“fight the good fight of the faith.”
D. There is effort involved in following Jesus.
C. Do you remember the classic book written by John Bunyan from the
seventeenth century called Pilgrim’s Progress?
1. It follows the story of a man named Christian, who is tormented by
spiritual anguish.
2. A spiritual guide named Evangelist visits Christian and urges him to
leave the City of Destruction and tells him that salvation can only be
found in the Celestial City, known as Mount Zion.
3. Along the way, he is tempted by distractions and shortcuts.
4. However, he perseveres.
5. There’s even one point in the book where he is directed by the
gatekeeper Goodwill to go to the “Wicket Gate,” which is the beginning of
the “straight and narrow” King’s Highway.
6. Later in the book, we see that Goodwill is Jesus himself.
D. The parallels to what Jesus is referring to here in Luke 13 and to our
Christian lives are as plain as day as what we read in Pilgrim’s Progress.
1. We struggle with the same temptations:
A. to take the easy way out,
B. to take shortcuts,
C. to get distracted,
D. to give up,
E. and even to despair of life itself.
2. And yet, Jesus invites us to persevere, to make every agonizing effort
to enter the narrow door.
3. And here’s the Gospel contained in this:
A. Jesus is the one who has fought off the forces of evil already for us,
opening the narrow door to us.
B. In Luke 22, the word “anguish,” agonia, is used as Jesus prays in the
Garden of Gethsemane just hours prior to his arrest and agonizing death on
the cross (verse 44).
C. That agony, his perseverance, enables the door to be open to us.
1. Closed Door: The door is now open, but the door is closing.
Therefore Don’t Ignore the Open Door.

A. And here’s the reason why effort is needed:
1. While the door is open, the door is closing.
2. And if we don’t agonize, if we don’t make the effort, the door will be
3. Jesus says in verses 25–26:
A. “Once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin
to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then
he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ”
B. The point is clear: Don’t Ignore the Open Door.
B. Don’t lollygag around.
1. Don’t spend your life getting distracted by the pleasures of the world.
2. Press on.
3. Make every effort to enter the narrow door.
C. The Good News is that Jesus has opened the door.
1. The cross and open tomb mean this door is open too.
2. But what you need to know at the same time is it’s a limited-time offer.
3. You’re familiar with limited-time offers, right?
A. Some stores offer them on certain items.
B. Or, even just in general, there are store hours.
C. Not every store is open twenty-four hours a day.
D. Maybe you’ve had one of those moments where you realize at the last
minute that you need something from the store, only to show up and realize
that the store is closed.
E. There’s that terrible, sinking feeling in your stomach.
F. You missed it.
G. Perhaps you even got there just a few minutes after it closed, and the
employees are still in the store.
H. So you knock, and you say, “Can I still get in?
I. I just need a gallon of milk.”
J. But they shake their heads and say, “Sorry, we’re closed.”
K. And so you go home disappointed.
D. We look at these words of Jesus in Luke 13, and there are going to be
some people who, when the end of the world comes, are going to be
1. And they will plead with Jesus, “Open the door to us.”
2. And they’ll make excuses:
A. “We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets”
(verse 26).
B. “We sat in your pews.
C. We attended your church events.”
D. We said all the right things.
E. We did all the right things.
3. And yet, Jesus will say:
A. “I don’t know you. Away from me.”
B. Rather than open, the door will be closed.
C. And many will be turned away, while only a select few will be included
in the feasting.
A. Let’s go back to the question I asked at the beginning:
1. “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”
2. That’s the wrong question.
3. The correct question is, “Will you be saved?”
4. And if so, how can you be saved?
B. Salvation comes through knowing Jesus.
1. Remember the reason Jesus rejects those who knock?
2. “I never knew you.”
3. And here, this is not just a “know of” someone, like I know the name of
4. No, this is to know someone intimately, personally, to have that
relationship with the person.
5. Jesus has opened that door to have that relationship with you through
his death on the cross.
6. And in John 10, he’s declared himself to be the door, and that
1. “if anyone enters by [him], he will be saved” (verse 9).
2. He’s laid down his life for you, to know you . . . and to be known by
C. And so, today, the door stands open.
1. The invitation remains:
A. “Strive (agōnizomai) to enter through the narrow door.”
B. While there’s breath in your lungs, there’s hope for your soul.
C. Don’t ignore the open door.
D. Amen.
D. Let us pray:
You are the life; the empty tomb
Proclaims Your conqu’ring arm,
And those who put their trust in You
Not death nor hell shall harm.

You are the way, the truth, the life;
Grant us that way to know,
That truth to keep, that life to win
Whose joys eternal flow.
Text: Public domain
E. The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
F. In the Name of the Father…Amen.