“Off The Beaten Path” is a metaphor and not meant to imply going off trail or wandering where you’re not supposed to. It’s a philosophy for keeping your eyes open big and wide for the moments that make up the journey and let the destination sort itself out on it’s own. You’re still on the narrow path, but you are distracted by worldly temptations.
Narrow is the road!
Have you ever found yourself wandering from the path God has laid out for you? We start out glued to the narrow road, but temptations and trials along the way shift our direction away from God. Despite failures, God always gives us a way to step back onto the narrow path.
Let’s take a look at someone very close to Jesus who let his feet begin to slip. Peter had traveled with Jesus for three years. Though it was a difficult road at times, following Jesus also had its perks. You see, Jesus’ followers were under the impression that He was going to be their king—that He was going to restore the nation of Israel to freedom. On the night of His arrest, all those hopes went away. As soon as the perks were gone and the difficulties showed up, Peter ran away too.
Open is the tomb
On the morning of the resurrection, the report came that Jesus had risen. While some of the disciples refused to believe the testimony about Jesus, Peter got up and ran to the tomb.
Peter’s feet had slipped. In a sense, he had strayed from the narrow path. But the report about Jesus rising sent him running as fast as he could to see if it was true. I believe that he was starting to run back onto the narrow path—back into God’s plan for his life. He was not running because he thought all the extra incentives had come back. Peter was not running because the chance of being arrested had left. This disciple was running because he thought Jesus had come back.
When Jesus tells us to walk through the small gate, He is referring to Himself. When He says to walk the narrow path, He means for us to walk the path He is walking. He wants us to walk beside Him. To continue on the narrow path, we must be abiding in Christ and allowing Him to live in us. Part of our journey as believers is to grow daily in our relationship with our Savior.
Our relationship with Jesus should be motivated by the love He has shown us. He gave us life by being a sacrifice for us when we deserved death. I do not want to miss out on being friends with someone who willingly did that for me. Love is the greatest incentive, and we know that God’s love for us never ends. Life’s incentives leave, and fortune is lost. The amazing thing about walking with Jesus is that He will never leave us and He never gets lost.
The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
Jesus is the gate
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Small gate, narrow path
“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.
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