In John 10:10, Jesus tells us that he came so that we can have life and have it abundantly. That verse has been in my mind as I am walking through this Christmas season.
Curiously, the whole verse reads like this:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Why does Jesus talk about thieves coming to destroy right before he talks about giving abundant life?
As I have often discovered, those popular feel-good verses often miss the deeper, right-meaning when taken out of context. And that was precisely the case here. Let’s read the John 10:10 in complete context, which is verses 1-18.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may 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 I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
There is so much to unpack here! This part of scripture is precious. Here Jesus is explaining a very important part of our faith. It’s Jesus’s own words that tell us His relationship with us and His care for us through the analogy of a shepherd and his sheep.
This is one of the famous I Am passages in the Bible and here we learn that Jesus is our good shepherd. And it’s here that He is explaining how that all works. He opens telling us about thieves, robbers and false shepherds, how they are strangers and have come to steal, kill and destroy. In contrast, Jesus, the good shepherd, is the door to the fold and all who enter through him find pasture and abundance.
So what is abundance, anyway?
Sadly, we tend to think of abundance in terms of this world’s materialistic things, things that bring ease and luxury. But this passage hints at a whole different meaning to abundance. What if we are completely missing the most precious meaning to an abundant life?
And even more sad is that some people try to take John 10:10 and claim it for personal prosperity, luxury and ease. They try to apply the world’s perspective and dismiss the rich meaning and understanding the whole passage holds.
I propose that this season we take a look at abundance in light of our relationship with Jesus, what He did for us by coming to this earth and what that means this Christmas season.
So, what is abundance?
The Blue Letter Bible offers this outline:
Outline of Biblical Usage:
Exceeding some number or measure or rank or need
Over and above, more than is necessary, superadded
Superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon
This is what Jesus says He has come to give us and what we will receive as the sheep who hear His voice and enter the sheepfold through Him.
Jesus lived an abundant life.
If we apply these words and phrases to the Christmas story and Jesus’s life, we can see an abundant life played out.
- A special star, extra bright, heralding Jesus’s birth, just like the Lord’s invitation extended to a person cannot be missed. (John 6:37)
- A whole host of angels announcing His arrival just as the angels rejoice over a new believer. (Luke 15:10)
- Provision of a warm quiet secluded place for Jesus’s birth just as we find intimacy with God the Father in quiet seclusion. (Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35)
- Exquisite, rare gifts for the newborn king, just as Christ offers us the exquisite gift of salvation. (Ephesians 2:8)
- The opportunity of the best education in the Jewish faith as he say at the feet of the priests in the synagogue just as we have the Holy Spirit to teach and guide us in our walk with the Lord. (John 14:26)
- An intimate relationship and oneness with the Father during His time here on Earth as He lived out the Father’s will just as we have direct access to God through Jesus. (John 14:6)
That’s not abundant by the world’s materialistic standards at all but abundant nonetheless! I’d say an invitation to an intimate relationship with the creator of the world is abundant and extravagant!
I dare say that a life lived by walking with the King is one that will be an abundant life because His “yoke is easy and His burden is light”. We won’t be immune to trials and troubles or tight finances. Instead, we will have a front row seat to watch God work things out and provide for His glory. Watching the creator of the universe move and work right before your eyes is abundant indeed!
We are offered an abundant life, too.
Abundance does mean treasure though, right?
Yes, it can apply to wealth and money but I’d like to challenge you with this verse as well:
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus makes it clear that’s where your treasure is there your heart is also. He also says that stored up treasures here on earth will be ruined and destroyed. Earthly treasure won’t do much for us but treasure does imply abundance, don’t you think? That heavenly treasure is found in Jesus. The abundant life has been provided for us by Jesus’s coming to earth that first Christmas and eventually giving His life so that we could have a relationship with God the father.
This Christmas, I’m choosing the abundant life that Jesus came to earth to provide for me. I’m choosing heavenly treasure! How about you? Are you with me?