Why the Middle Way is the Wrong Way

June 3, 2014

Matthew 7:13-14  (in context)

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.


In my brief season as a lawyer, I loved the courtroom drama of a good trial. My favorite part of the trial, though, were the closing arguments. The great trial lawyers possess the unique capacity to take days and even weeks of witnesses, evidence and sworn testimony and distill it all into a few final observations, implications and appeals. The best lawyers know how to touch the noblest aspirations of a human being, making it powerfully clear what is at stake and persuasively compelling as to the verdict that must be returned.

These final sayings in the sermon on the mount are not, as some think, threats or warnings or worse, shame tactics. The one whose most common response is, “Do not be afraid,” would never stoop to such antics. The wisest teacher who ever lived here makes perhaps the truest observation that has ever been made. As he comes to the end of THE SERMON, he moves toward closing arguments with the deftness of the most skillful trial lawyer.

The “narrow” way, (an unfortunate term for the modern hearer), is actually the visionary life he has just articulated for us in THE SERMON. That is why THE SERMON is so essential. I like the way Wesley summarizes it:

For, “narrow is the way that leadeth unto life,” the way of universal holiness. Narrow indeed is the way of poverty of spirit; the way of holy mourning; the way of meekness; and that of hungering and thirsting after righteousness. Narrow is the way of mercifulness; of love unfeigned; the way of purity of heart; of doing good unto all men; and of gladly suffering evil, all manner of evil, for righteousness’ sake. p.226. 

THE SERMON contains the original design for human beings. THE SERMON is the way to the “good life.” To live according to The Designer’s design is to find life. To rebel against this design is to find misery. It’s really that simple. There are only two choices.

Everyone clamors to find a “middle” way these days. I’m afraid that’s just another way of defining the broad path. As the Proverbial teacher of wisdom says, “There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death.

Has the jury reached a verdict?

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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at

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