Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'” (Luke 13:22–27, NIV84)
This section of Scripture has always been a challenge for me. On the last day there will be people knocking on the door to the kingdom of God desiring to enter, but they will not be allowed. They will plead with the Master that they know him, that they ate and drank in His presence, that they even heard Him teach, but He will not let them in. The text says, “I don’t know you.” All this in response to the question, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
What point is Jesus making here? He doesn’t seem to answer the question directly. He doesn’t mention numbers at all. He is talking more about who gets in, rather than how many. And I guess, ultimately, that is the more important question. I struggle with this text because Jesus focuses on those who don’t get in rather than those who do. As I look at those who don’t get in, I see a little of me in them. I have heard Jesus teach. I have eaten with Him and His people. I have worshiped in His church. How can I be certain I will be let in?
Twice in the text Jesus says, “I don’t know you.” I think the key to understanding this text lies in this phrase. Salvation requires more than an association and familiarity with Jesus. Not everyone who met Jesus believed in Him. People witnessed His miracles and teaching and still didn’t believe Him to be the promised Messiah. For us to know Jesus requires a personal relationship, one in which He has also come to know us. Jesus knows the heart of all men. He knows whether His word has taken root and caused faith to develop in a soul. He knows His sheep, and His sheep know him. You see, the focus does not need to be on who and how many will enter the kingdom. The focus needs to be on personally knowing and believing that Jesus is who He says He is.
May we always be certain that we know, and are known by, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.