Order Hotline: 1-800-527-5226
Abundant Life: It's a Wonderful Life (John 10:10)
Life is__________. Forrest Gump filled in the blank by saying: "Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get." F. Scott Peck began his best selling book The Road Less Traveled by writing, "Life is difficult." Once, I went to a time share sales meetings and the salesman in one last final effort to get me to sign the dotted line said, "Life is not a dress rehearsal, you only get to live it once." Others have described our existence by filling in the blank with: a rat race, a bowl of cherries, amino acids, a series of choices, a paycheck, the weekend, a party. Why is that we always want to reduce life in size?
For many, life is nothing more than the time spent between birth and death. The drudgery of existence. The boring monotony of the routine. The hope of having enough until the end. Have these people bought a lie? Has their life been stolen from them?
There are many avenues down which we can travel that leads not to life but to destruction. While we would never call these pursuits thieves and robbers they are just that. They, in there diabolical and methodical ways, attempt to destroy our attempts at life. Where do people go to find life to only discover despair?
One doesn't find life in pleasure. I've heard people say that if only they could take a cruise, or retire in luxury, or have their fantasies fulfilled then they would be living. Many people have done these things yet they still remain empty. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied; no matter how much we hear, we are never content" (Ecclesiastes 1:8, LB). Try as they may in the pursuit of pleasure eventually the law of diminishing returns takes hold. It takes a bigger thrill, or a bigger event to bring another high. But it never lasts.
One doesn't find life in performance. Eventually workaholics learn that the satisfaction of one job completed is short lived. A Wimbledon tennis champion thought all his life that winning this major tournament would result in life has he had never known it. He said following his championship, "The thrill of victory lasts about fifteen minutes." A myth has circulated for years that says success produces life. The truth of Scripture states, "Man is always working, never satisfied" (Ecclesiastes 4:8, GN).
One doesn't find life in possessions. "He who loves money will never have enough. The foolishness of thinking wealth brings happiness. (Ecclesiastes 5:10, LB). Have you ever asked yourself, "Why is it that I have more money than I have ever had before and yet have less contentment?"
One doesn't find life in position. Too often people think that if they receive a certain promotion, or reach a certain status, or live in a certain area then they would be happy. Interestingly, those people who have reached that position still have not found the secret of a fulfilling life.
One doesn't find life in pursuits. Some people are deluded into thinking that if they stay busy enough and if their pace of life remains at an intense level then they will discover life. Yet, all they find is stress, ulcers, and heart attacks.
These thieves masquerade as givers of life, but actually they are dispensers of destruction, disease, and death.
The truth is that life is not found in pleasure, performance, possessions, position, or pursuits; it is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus says time and time again that he is the giver of life, the author of life. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). And later in John's gospel he states, "I am the way and the truth and the life" (John 14:6). But the most powerful statement he made regarding life was: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). The "I" is emphatic, meaning that life is found in no other than him. Life is entered by no other than Jesus himself.
How could this be? For us to understand how this life is entered we must understand that a special relationship exists between a shepherd and his sheep. For example, Jesus said, "I am the gate for the sheep" (John 10:7). Sounds peculiar, doesn't it? It stretches the imagination to think of a person acting as a gate, or a door. But that's just what a shepherd does, particularly one who is devoted to his sheep.
One day George Adam Smith, an Englishman who traveled extensively in the Middle East, came across a sheepfold and said to the shepherd, "That is where they go at night?"
"Yes," said the shepherd, "and when they are in there, they are perfectly safe."
"But there is no door," said the Englishman.
"I am the door," replied the shepherd.
Sir George looked at him and asked, "What do you mean by the door?"
The shepherd answered, "When the light has gone out, and all the sheep are inside, I lie in that open space, and no sheep ever goes out but across my body, and no wolf comes in unless he crosses my body; I am the door."
When Jesus said he is the door of the sheep, he meant that the fold has only one entrance; life has one source; spiritual nourishment is obtained one way; heaven can be entered through one entrance. And the single means of access to all which is life is Jesus.
Now, some people may say," Wait a minute, don't I already have life? Aren't I breathing? Isn't my heart pumping blood?
I would answer, "Yes, but...not the life Jesus is referring to." The life that Jesus gives is infinitely and eternally different than the life one possesses now. Maybe a little lesson in Greek vocabulary would be helpful in discerning what the significance of this life he offers is. The Greek language employed several different words to communicate concepts and thoughts that are only available in one word in English. Such is true with this concept of life. They had six different words to clarify its meaning. But two words for life will bring our study into focus.
The first word is bios, in which the English word biology is derived. It refers to the duration of life -- one's life span, the time between one's birth date and one's death date; or it refers to the necessities of life -- one's food, shelter, and clothing. The second word is zoe, in which the English words zoo and zoology are derived. It refers to life as God has it. The life that be-longs to God that becomes ours when we cross the doorway of Jesus and enter into a relationship with God. It is not a duration because this life is not limited by time, nor hindered" by death. It is not a possession but rather an infilling -- God once again breathing his life into us.
When we were born we were given bios life, when we are born again we are given zoe life. Until we cross the doorway of Christ and enter into a relationship with God through Jesus we may be physically alive but spiritually we are dead.
Jesus goes on to quantify this life, "and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Depending on the translation one uses the word that is translated full in the NIV may be translated "abundantly," or "fullness," or "overflowing" in other versions of the Bible. But what is meant by this word? "Have it to the full" means to have a superabundance of a thing. To be a follower of Jesus, to know who he is and what he means, is to have a superabundance of life. There is a new vitality, a new meaning, a new energy, a new purpose, a new significance, a new outlook, a new hope, a new joy, a new life.
Granted this is hard to explain, but consider this scenario for a clarification.
You have reserved a subcompact car like a Ford Escort to rent for a vacation. Now I have nothing against a Ford Escort. The last vacation my wife and I went on we rented a Ford Escort and we got around with it just fine. The Ford Escort gets good gas mileage. It runs fine. It will get you where you need to go. But let's suppose when you go to the Car Rental place and you ask for your Ford Escort they tell you that all the Ford Escorts are in service. "Would you mind an upgrade?"
"Would you mind an upgrade?" you say to yourself. "Come on, get serious," you think. You would love an upgrade.
The car rental attendant says, "Well, it looks like the only car we have available is a Lincoln Town Car. Would that be all right?"
Of course that will be all right. So you hop into your Lincoln Town Car and drive off in style. Does this car get you to your destination any faster? NO. But you get there in greater comfort and in luxury. You feel better about yourself. You don't mind a few stares and looks from people you pass on the road. When you get out at the motel you're treated with a little more respect than you have been before when you pulled up in the Ford Escort.
When Cindy, my wife, and I went on our honeymoon, we arrived at the airport late. We were allowed to board but we were not given seats next to each other. In fact she was one row behind me. When the steward came by for drink orders, Cindy must have had a look on her face that caused the steward to ask, "Are you on your honeymoon?"
"Yes," Cindy replied.
"Where is your husband?" he asked.
Cindy pointed to me in the row in front of her. The steward left, but in a few minutes he returned. He requested that Cindy and I retrieve our things and follow him. We did. He lead us to the first class section. When we got to that part of the plane, he announced, "On behalf of American Airlines we have upgraded your seats and we wish you a happy honeymoon." Between our seats was a bottle of chilled champagne. The rich Corinthian leather seats were wide and comfortable. We had an endless supply of food and drinks. Did we get to our destination any sooner? NO. But we did get there in greater style and comfort. Our seats had been upgraded.
What was God up to when he sent Jesus to this Earth? Upgrading life, that's what. Through Jesus Christ he was offering to us life not just good, but better, not just full, but fuller.
Think of Jesus as your friendly travel agent. If you are not already on board, he would like to book you on a flight to glory, heaven as the final destination. While this ticket is free you must receive it by asking Jesus into your heart. And furthermore, while your on the journey, as you live this life, he wants to offer you an upgrade. This is a gift too, but you must take advantage of it. Just as Cindy and I were obedient and followed the steward to our new accommodations, so to you must be obedient and follow the Master.
And when you do, what a wonderful life it is.
comments powered by Disqus