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“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”—John 10:101
The story is told of an artist who sculpted a beautiful angel and wanted the master artist, Michelangelo, to inspect it and offer his opinion. So Michelangelo was called in. The master artist carefully looked at the sculpture from every angle.
Finally, he said, “Well, it lacks only one thing.” Then he turned around and walked out.
The artist didn’t know what it lacked, and he was embarrassed to go and ask Michelangelo. So he sent a friend to Michelangelo’s studio to try and find out what his statue lacked.
The great artist replied, “It lacks only life.”
The same could be said of a lot of people today. They have the house, the car, the spouse, and the kids. They have the career. They have money in the bank. They have everything going the way that things ought to go to supposedly live life to its fullest. But there is something still lacking. They are still lacking life.
Jesus has something to say about that, and in John’s Gospel, He tells us what our lives ought to be about… “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
The context of John 10 is that of a shepherd and his sheep, where Jesus is the Shepherd, while we are the sheep. But we are reminded that Jesus is not just our Shepherd; He is the Good Shepherd. It is important to know that the word used here for “good” doesn’t just mean morally good, though it includes that. It also could be translated “beautiful” or “winsome” or “lovely,” even “attractive.” Jesus is the beautiful, attractive, winsome Shepherd, and the Shepherd’s plan for His flock—more specifically, the Lord’s plan for you—is that your life would flourish. It is His absolute joy to bless you. …
The abundant life that John 10:10 speaks of is not necessarily a long life, though it may be, but it certainly is a full one. Medical science seeks to add years to our lives, but only Jesus can add life to our years. …
If somehow the Bible read differently and there was no promise of heaven and no afterlife, if we simply stopped existing when we die, but everything else about the Christian life remained the same, I still would be a Christian on that basis alone. To have Christ in my life, to have His leading, to have His guidance, to have His blessing, to have these standards to live by and to guide my life by … I would be a Christian for these things alone.
If neither heaven nor God’s plan to live eternally were promised to me, it has been worth it just having the Lord in my life. But the good news, friend, is there is a heaven. There is an afterlife. There is the hope that every Christian has: life—and that more abundantly.—Greg Laurie2
What did Jesus mean when He promised an abundant life?
In John 10:10, Jesus said, “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.” Unlike a thief, the Lord Jesus does not come for selfish reasons. He comes to give, not to get. He comes that people may have life in Him that is meaningful, purposeful, joyful, and eternal. We receive this abundant life the moment we accept Him as our Savior.
This word “abundant” in the Greek is perisson, meaning “exceedingly, very highly, beyond measure, more, superfluous, a quantity so abundant as to be considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate.” In short, Jesus promises us a life far better than we could ever imagine, a concept reminiscent of 1 Corinthians 2:9: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” …
Before we begin to have visions of lavish homes, expensive cars, worldwide cruises, and more money than we know what to do with, we need to pause and think about what Jesus teaches regarding this abundant life. The Bible tells us that wealth, prestige, position, and power in this world are not God’s priorities for us.3 In terms of economic, academic, and social status, most Christians do not come from the privileged classes. Clearly, then, abundant life does not consist of an abundance of material things. If that were the case, Jesus would have been the wealthiest of men. But just the opposite is true.4
Abundant life is eternal life, a life that begins the moment we come to Christ and receive Him as Savior, and goes on throughout all eternity. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”5 This definition makes no mention of length of days, health, prosperity, family, or occupation. As a matter of fact, the only thing it does mention is knowledge of God, which is the key to a truly abundant life.
What is the abundant life? First, abundance is spiritual abundance, not material. In fact, God is not overly concerned with the physical circumstances of our lives. He assures us that we need not worry about what we will eat or wear.6 …
True abundant life consists of an abundance of love, joy, peace, and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit,7 not an abundance of “stuff.” It consists of life that is eternal, and, therefore, our interest is in the eternal, not the temporal. Paul admonishes us, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”8—From GotQuestions.org9
Words can’t describe the riches to be found in Jesus, and the closer the walk with Him, the greater the revelations of His power and glory and inheritance that you will have as a Christian! I wish I had some new way of telling you what it means to come closer to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.10 He wants you to draw closer. He longs that you will have His peace and rest and joy.
He says, “My peace I give,” and “Ask and receive, that your joy may be full.”11 He wants you to have all this fullness. He wants you to draw closer to Him. He even desires that you may prosper. The first Psalm tells of the righteous man, who prospers in all that he does.12
He wants you to draw closer to Him, so that you can know the abundant life that He has offered, that He comes to give—this life above the common, a life above the mediocre, a life above the ordinary. You’ll never know it by just a passing acquaintance with Him! “Draw me closer, closer, just a closer walk with Thee, dear Lord.”
He wants to show you the reliability of every promise in His Word. If you’ve got a need today, He wants to supply that need.13 He promised to give you the desires of your heart if you delight yourself in Him.14
Are you delighting yourself in Him? God is all that will ever satisfy you! “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”15
He is your “satisfying portion.” Draw closer to Him, read His Word, and meditate upon Him—your forever portion.—Virginia Brandt Berg
Abundance and hope
God through Jesus Christ offers us so much—“exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”16—both in this present physical life and the spiritual life to come. For God’s desire for us is not for calamity … but to give us a more abundant life now and a hope for the future.
He came to give us rest and rejuvenation from the cares and stresses of daily living. He beckons us to come to Him when we are burdened down with cares and troubles: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest … for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”17 In this harried world, we all need times of quietness and time-out to speak with God and listen to God speak to us through His Word.
He came as well to inspire and encourage us in this world of war and turmoil with His encouraging words in John 16:33, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” It’s easy to become depressed if one focuses too much on the state of today’s world affairs. But He tells us, when we see these things happen, to “lift up [our] heads, because [our] redemption draws near.”18
He also assures us that He will be with us always, even to the end of this age. That means He will always be with us to carry us through life’s storms, to give us peace and encourage us right through the end.19 …
He sends us the Comforter or Helper in the form of God’s Holy Spirit—a Spirit that results in a life of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.20
As we face the end of our physical lives, He tells us not to mourn like those who have no hope.21 For our physical life is merely a preparation for eternity. … This includes the kind of life in which we will possess a glorified spiritual body that will be made and fashioned like Christ22 and an inheritance that will never fade away, reserved in heaven for us.23 …
The kind of life in Christ described above only scratches the surface of what God has in store for those who truly remain faithful to Him. One could go on to describe the next life as one of blessings, health, prosperity, happiness, fulfillment and purpose. Even in this life, Christ’s followers have a wonderful appetizer of those future blessings!
He truly did come so that we can have life and have it more abundantly. It is no wonder, then, that the psalmist David was inspired to write, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”24—Hector Earle25
Published on Anchor October 2021. Read by Jerry Paladino.
Music by Michael Dooley.
3 1 Corinthians 1:26–29.
4 Matthew 8:20.
5 John 17:3.
6 Matthew 6:25–32; Philippians 4:19.
7 Galatians 5:22–23.
8 Colossians 3:2–3.
10 John 10:10.
11 John 14:27, 16:24.
12 Psalm 1:3.
13 Philippians 4:19.
14 Psalm 37:4.
15 Psalm 73:26.
16 Ephesians 3:20.
17 Matthew 11:28–30.
18 Luke 21:28.
19 John 10:28; Philippians 1:6; 4:13; Hebrews 13:5.
20 Galatians 5:22–23.
21 1 Thessalonians 4:13.
22 1 John 3:2.
23 1 Peter 1:4.
24 Psalm 16:11.