Sermon on the Mount
If one were to choose a section of the New Testament to be our guide through the wilderness of this world, I like Oliver Wendell Holmes would recommend the Sermon on the Mount.
It has been quoted that Oliver Wendell Holmes (American Physician, Poet, Writer, Humorist, and Professor at Harvard, 1809-1894) stated that “most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.
<>As we try to understand our pilgrimage here on earth, we must allow God’s Word is to be our Guide (our rudder). God tells Joshua in Joshua 1:7 “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [to] the right hand or [to] the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.”
Jesus‘ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7 not only reinforces the importance of obeying God’s commands but also can be viewed as a template to support Bunyan’s allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress”.
Matthew 7:13-14 states “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” These two verses lay the foundational thoughts for the imagery of our pilgrimage entering through a narrow gate (wicket gate) and ending with life, eternal (Celestial City).
Below is an abstract commenting on the two verses above from the paper “Sermon on the Mount” by Gerrit Verstraete;
Verse 7:13. The great treasure and secret of my Kingdom favor towards you is abundant life. But you will not find the road to abundant life easy. Instead, the journey is through a narrow gate. A condition of life is that you collect much baggage along the way. It is baggage that begins with exposing your heart’s selfishness. The baggage of sin is heavy. Jesus says I came to take your baggage so you need not carry fear, shame, forgiveness, rejection, pain, and loneliness any longer than it takes to come to Me with a repentant heart. I came to show you how you must decrease while I increase in your life. It is a narrow gate where you will find no room to carry your baggage. It is the narrow gate of God’s pruning, of God’s loving discipline, and of God’s shaking. You have no choice but to enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. Too many still believe that you can go through life carrying the baggage of continuous sin and unrelenting rebellion to My Word. No, you cannot! Beware of those who offer gain without pain, reward without sacrifice, and righteousness without change.
Verse 7:14. For the gate to abundant life is small, and the way is narrow that leads to abundant life, and few are those who find it. Yet for those who discover the pain of pressing through, who experience suffering because of faith and perseverance, who know that through many tribulations one enters the Kingdom of God, who believe pruning brings vigorous and healthy new life, for them the narrow gate is a willingness to let go of every hindrance, every heart attitude and all behavior that stands in the way of abundant life. As you accumulate baggage, do not be afraid to enter by the narrow gate as often as you need to live an abundant life. My abundant life now is the assurance of your right standing with the Father, the seal of My Holy Spirit to mark you securely for eternal glory, My peace to endure life’s rough roads, My joy to overcome the despair of all adverse circumstances and the power of my blood to protect you and keep you until My abundant life to come. That abundant life to come is forever with Me, the Father, and all the family of God in the new earth and new heaven I have prepared for you.