the parable of the three paths

three men traveling together came to a place where the road divided into three paths. one continued forward but looked difficult to follow. one went to the left ever so slightly but was smooth and well traveled and the other one went to the right ever so slightly and was also smooth and well traveled.

the first man wanted to go right and made an impassioned case for why going right was the best way to go. the second man wanted to go left and made an impassioned case for why going left was the best way to go. the third man listened carefully to both cases but decided he would remain on the path going forward. he asked the other men to remain with him but they would not. rather each man reaffirmed the necessity of following the path he had chosen.

as they began down their respective paths the three men could still see each other and communicate. but in time they grew distant from each other until the others could not be seen or heard.

who took the correct path?


~ by graceshaker on February 9, 2009.

26 Responses to “the parable of the three paths”

  1. the one who followed Jesus took the correct path, and Jesus took the road less traveled.

    Although the way is difficult, His presence, guidance and joy make every stumble worth the agony.

  2. I wasn’t too sure until I read Hillary’s answer.

    She is right! Follow the Way! One can’t go wrong!

  3. If I get the analogy, all three paths may be headed for Lord Jesus. If so, they are all OK. It is the destination that counts!

  4. But they cant see or hear each other at the end. So it’s not the same direction. They slowly stray off the side of the road. It’s basically just saying that people can look at something that doesn’t seem as a big deal, but that can lead to one thing and then again another. Soon enough they are so far away from the original path that they’re basically lost and how easy it is to do so (the smooth roads).

    That’s how I see it. And no, it’s not the path towards God that the two “side” path guys took.

    The middle path, though bumpy is the correct path. It’s just saying that path towards Christ may be a difficult one, but in the long run its worth it.

  5. It is a paradox difficult to articulate: the narrow way, although rocky and full of turmoil, also bears an undercurrent of peace. When you know you are within the will of God, there is no safer or joyous place to be.

  6. when i read this, my first thought was, ‘well of course the middle path is the best path to take.’ i don’t think that changing directions (even if only “ever so slightly”) just because the way forward looks difficult is ever the best path. the bible is full of people who face insurmountable obstacles, and still continue and persevere. … it’s also full of people who try and take the easier way out, fight god, and end up taking the path they tried to avoid anyway.

    but i don’t think that this parable is really about the paths. check out the end:

    [quote]“as they began down their respective paths the three men could still see each other and communicate. but in time they grew distant from each other until the others could not be seen or heard.”[/quote]

    in the end, they stopped communicating. to the point that they lost track of each other. a shepherd doesn’t abandon his sheep, and the sheep who strays from the fold is lost without the others. i think that they ALL went the wrong way.

  7. Interesting concept! Only thought is then, path to what? If it is the path of salvation, then adding to it (communication, etc) means adding works. But if it is the path of life, or healthiness, or whatever….I completely agree with you.

  8. Oy,,,,or maybe I am overthinking everything and the punchline is that they were trying to follow a crazy map through the mountains of China, and the moral is to first stop and figure out where you are/where you wanna go/why/and who all the characters were. :)

  9. this discussion has been great! good thots churning around in here.

    im in agreement with those who understand the original path as the correct one but the fact that the first two men were passionately wrong and the third man was dispassionately right are equally troubling for me. this parable shows us that there is in fact a correct path but that how we follow it also matters.

  10. Applied to the Christian view of salvation, all 3 paths are wrong since they suggest that everything depends on us making the right choice. Since the path is not things we do or choose but God choosing us in Christ, the parable won’t really work unless He comes toward us and begins walking with us side by side.

  11. Josh, even though the Holy spirit Quickens us, and faith is a gift, we still can Grieve the Holy Spirit, so maybe one road is the path of least resistance?

  12. Interesting thought. But it sure makes sense once you’ve started walking!

  13. I would contend that we do choose the path we walk down. Not in the sense that we are always in control, but in the sense that we have the choice of following after God or not. To say otherwise is awfully convenient for those who have been “chosen” while all others fall to the wayside.

  14. Which road did the Apostle Paul CHOOSE? Did he not choose the road to Damascus?

    Wasn’t it the Lord who made the decision for Paul to be a believer in Himself?

    We are dead in our sins and trespasses and dead people can’t choose anything.

    ” who were born not of blood, nor of the flesh, NOR of the WILL OF MAN, but of God.”

    God chooses us, we do not choose Him. Since our wills are bound in sin, we can and will reject Him. But after He chooses us, we will follow…faithlessly at times…but we will follow.

    Josh is spot on.

  15. “who took the correct path?”

    There isn’t enough information given to answer that question. You never specified where they were going and which (if any) of the three paths led to said destination.

  16. Like I said previously it is amazing at the convenience followers of Christ have in claiming to be “chosen”. You are using one example in Paul to state your case. I am not stating that God cannot do this I believe he can; however if what you are saying is correct and no one comes to the Father without being chosen then God must like Caucasion Americans more than Africans or Asians. Not that this is a racial argument, but you are trying to convince me that the cross was not for everyone, but just for the “chosen” ones. I believe we set our own limitations on God by saying that it cannot be both/and opposed to either/or. John 5:24 “states whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.” Pardon me if I give weight to Christ’s teaching. Your argument with Paul is flawed. He was told what to do and did it. Was this not a choice? Yes God commanded him, but it does not state God froced him to do anything. Also if what you are saying is true, Jesus must have mistaken the concept of denying one’s self and picking up your own cross to follow him right? Without free will the fall is meaningless because it becomes pre-ordained, thus God caused the fall, and created men/women to be sinful and seperated from himself. That makes sense.

  17. J-smad,

    The quote I used was from the gospel of John.

    Jesus also said “I choose you, you do not choose me.”

    Jesus also said , “no one CAN COME TO ME except those drawn by the Father.”

    You feel this way and that way…but the Bible tells us something else.

    Take a look at Romans 9, also.

    Indeed, the old Adam dies hard. Real hard.

  18. That should have been ‘J-smed’…sorry about that!

  19. Sorry, one last point. Your scripture reference found in John 1:13 is out of context without verse 12 that states that “to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” Now you can insert verse 13 to show that according to the verses one must receive and believe then be granted the right to be called children of God.

  20. That is what I am saying it CAN be both/and….I am not disagreeing with the fact that God does draw people to himself; however I will not state that is the only way when you look at my previous post you will see why I believe that. It does not have to be one or the other God is bigger than that.

  21. The bible states that God gives us faith. If I wish you ‘Bon Voyage’, you have received the sentiment, but you did nothing to receive it. It hit your ears and you had it.

    That is how faith is.

    Jesus explained this phenomenon to Niccodemus also. In essence He said to Niccodemus, ‘you can’t do this yourself…the Spirit blows where it will.’

    I look at the scriptures (with respect to this issue) from a God centered view and it seems that you are looking at them from a man centered view.

  22. You can choose to focus soley on the words chosen and called, but in doing so you ignore belief, deny, obey, and all these other teachings Jesus gave us as well. I will not make blanket statements where Scripture is not entirely clear on an issue. If that means I am man-centered in your eyes, cool… You still did not address my question regarding John 1…in context that verse does not mean exactly what you present it to say out of context. If you want to look with a god-centered view (in respect to this issue) then you have to look at God’s Word in context.

  23. J-smed,

    I tried to address your issue, but you do not want to see it.

    On this issue, you and I are of different houses. That’s all.

    I’ll put all the emphasis on what God does and you can throw a little of man in there.


    No hard feelings. It’s just the way it is.

  24. I agree no hard feelings….I just do not understand the Calvinistic view that’s all.
    I feel you just pointed out other verses that support your view, and failed to answer most of my questions.
    I see God as being more than a fan of white north america, europe, and south america while billions of others go to hell. There is not much mercy in creating man in your own image to send them on a nice trip to eternity seperated from their creator; because he just didn’t like you as much. May seem heretical to you, but I just cannot bring myself to believe that God is a cynic creating souls to go to hell.

  25. I do not believe in the Calvinist view either.

    I’m a Lutheran.

    We (most of us) believe that Jesus death on the cross was for all men/women. All.

    We believe that all are forgiven, but that forgiveness must be acessed through faith (Grace through faith).

    Romans 9 tells us that God chooses to give this faith of His own will.

    Many will reject that faith.

    When we believe…God gets all the credit.

    When we reject…we get all the blame.

    That’s the Lutheran view. I think it is even more unpopular than the Calvinist’s view!!

    Anyway, I gotta run, J-smed.


    – Steve Martin San Clemente, CA

  26. goliath is right in saying i didnt give enuf info. the rest of the disagreement concerns the idea that god chooses us and/or we choose him. i will certainly address this very soon. thanks for the discussion guys. it was thot provoking!

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