Summary: Jesus said his purpose was to give us "a rich and satisfying life." But sometimes it seems our life is a lot less than satisfying. Did we miss something in what He said?
Last week we talked about our dependence on God as He is the One with our future in his hands. We made a Declaration of Dependence on him that read; “We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal in sin, that through grace, they have been endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Abundant Life, Liberty in Christ, and the Pursuit of Peace beyond understanding. --- that to secure these rights, our Savior died and rose again-- so that we would no longer walk the path of destruction.”
Today I want to discuss the Abundant Life, or as the New Living Translation reads; “a rich and satisfying life”
What is the definition of abundant? According to the dictionary it means present in great quantity; more than adequate; over sufficient, well and richly supplied.
What did Jesus say about this abundant life? Let’s look at John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”
Now here is where I struggle. If Jesus came to give us a satisfying life, why is our life filled with hardships? Why is it that the stealing, killing, and destruction of the thief seem to succeed more than the rich and satisfying life promised to us?
I have pondered this topic all week. I have read other people’s thoughts on John 10:10. Nothing I read or studied satisfied my question; “What is considered a rich and satisfying life?”
King Solomon didn’t have the answer. He wrote “I said to myself, ‘Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.’ But I found that this, too, was meaningless.” (Ecc 2:1)
Job said of life “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble! We blossom like a flower and then wither.
Like a passing shadow, we quickly disappear. (Job 14:1-2)
James, the brother of Jesus, writes “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (James 4:14)
Life is meaningless, full of trouble, and short. That doesn’t sound rich and satisfying, now does it? Are you ready to jump off a bridge yet? Well, hold on.
I made the mistake of not looking at the audience and the context. Let’s read John 10:1-5 I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
Jesus is speaking in Jerusalem, a city used to having shepherds bring their flocks into the walls at night. Inside the city would be a common pen where the sheep would be kept. This common pen is called a “sheepfold”. It would be surrounded by a large wall with a single gated entrance. A gatekeeper would be on guard to be sure no thief scaled over the wall and only the shepherds were allowed inside. Several flocks would be housed together and when the shepherd came for his flock he would call them by a certain name or whistle in a certain manner. Only those sheep that belonged to him would respond. The others would remain in the pen. Rather remarkable, right. But is it fact?
Let me read an excerpt from the book “Orientalisms in Bible Lands. “The modern shepherd . . . has a wonderful memory, which retains the name of every sheep. The flocks sometimes contain several hundred, and yet each one has a name and the shepherd knows it, and calls every sheep by its proper name. . . . [One observer] tells of watching shepherds with flocks upon the slopes of Mount Hermon: ‘Each shepherd . . . trains his sheep to come at his call, to go in order, in twos or fours, in squares and circles; one from the outer circle in a flock of a thousand will come when its name is called.’ It is the voice of the shepherd that the sheep recognizes.
“A stranger once declared to a Syrian shepherd that the sheep knew the dress and not the voice of their master. The shepherd said it was the voice they knew. To prove this, he exchanged dresses with the stranger, who went among the sheep in the shepherd’s dress, calling the sheep in imitation of the shepherd’s voice, and tried to lead them. They knew not his voice, but when the shepherd called them, though he was disguised, the sheep ran at once at his call.”—Orientalisms in Bible Lands, by E. W. Rice, pp. 159-161.