The air crisp,
The sun bright,
As we enter the ancient city of the Ephesians.
Ephesus (Efes) located in Kudasai, Turkey is more than 35% uncovered. In 1st century B.C., it had a population of more than 250,000 which served to make it one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean world. The city served as great importance to Christianity in 50 A.D. The evidence shown in this inscription:
We bounce over B.C.-marble with our 21st century sneakers and are ushered through several gate-like structures. We pass underneath a stone gate and I see the view. The city, the wide road and I begin to think.
I am reminded of Jesus words.
Words found in Matthew 7 about narrow gates and wide roads.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. 14 How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”
Nobility took up residence in terrace homes along this wide Ephesian road. Cluttered with people, wealth, prostitution, and idols, many first century residents traveled the destructive wide road.
I put myself in ancient mindset for a moment.
This nice, comfortable yet crowded path was attractive and accommodating. But this isn’t the way of Jesus. This isn’t the path he designed for them, for us.
The stones cry out.
He beckons us down a hard road filled with amphitheaters of hate and walls of chains. Just like the Christians back then…
A long time ago.
I brush my fingers across divots in a stone wall.
There are too many to count. These divots held the chains of persecuted Christians. I could almost hear their cry. They hung in humiliation under a hot sun ~ overcome with sweat but soaked with determination. Determined and resolved to count the cost, to lose their life for the cause of Christ.
I kick the dirt in this spot and I think, “Why would I be so arrogant to think my road to travel would be any different…any less hard?”
I may not find myself in chains for my faith. I may not even be called to lose my life for it. But I can embrace my call as a disciple of Christ…and that is to share gospel and make disciples of all nations…and never stop.
These followers knew what it meant to walk the narrow path. They knew the narrower the path the greater the risk. But they also knew like the man who hid a treasure in a field that Jesus was worth being in chains for…because to live is Christ and to die is gain (see Philippians 1:21).
So here I stand in wonder. I wonder 2000 years later how far we as believers have wondered off this path. These devoted followers of a Jewish carpenter who was crucified show us that following Christ isn’t just praying a prayer, but a summons to lose your life.
This is the road I choose. The narrow, risky, unpopular one. The one that leads to life.
Which will you choose?