Summary: A look at why Jesus came to earth in His own words
SERIES: WHAT JESUS SAID ABOUT WHY HE CAME
“I CAME TO GIVE ABUNDANT LIFE”
Tom Omer, former president of the Louisville Bible College, used to tell about a man who had risen from utter poverty to earning a fairly decent salary. All of his life he had wanted to own a brand new Cadillac – one that came with every option you could conceive.
Finally, after some long years of hard work, the fellow bought the Cadillac of his dreams. He treated that car better than he treated his wife. He was so proud of that car.
It wasn’t too long after he bought the car that he began to notice that he just didn’t feel as healthy as he should so he went to his doctor. The doctor told him that he had a rapidly progressive disease and that it wouldn’t be long before he would die from the disease.
He immediately went to his lawyer and had papers drawn up that said instead of being buried in a coffin, he would be buried in his Cadillac. The day came when the fellow died from the disease. After the funeral, at the graveside, his family and friends watched as the crane lowered that big automobile into the ground. One fellow shook his head, leaned over to the guy next to him and said, “Now that’s what I call living!”
Last week we started our Christmas series. It’s not a typical Christmas series where we look at the traditional scenes about Jesus’ birth – Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, the wise men. It’s a series called “What Jesus Said About Why He Came.” During the Christmas season, we celebrate “God with us” – when God came to earth as a man. That God-man’s name is Jesus and during His time here on earth, He made several declarations concerning why He came. During this series we’re looking at those statements and how they affect our lives. Today’s statement: “I Came to Give Abundant Life.”
John 10:7-10 – “Therefore Jesus said again, ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever
came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters
through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill
and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
We find some statements by Jesus that sound a little odd to our ears. However, the picture that Jesus is painting here in John 10 was not unfamiliar to His original audience. Judea was a very hilly area. In fact, there was a section of Judea that ran 35 miles north and south and about 17 miles east and west that was so hilly that the only thing you could do on it was graze sheep. The shepherd was a common sight for Jesus’ audience.
Most of John 10 is Jesus teaching about Himself as the Good Shepherd. Imagery of God as the “Shepherd” is used multiple times in the Old Testament. We’re familiar with Psalm 23: “The LORD is my Shepherd…” Ps. 80:1 refers to God as the “Shepherd of Israel.” Ps. 100:3 refers to God’s people as “the sheep of his pasture.” Is. 40:11 says about God “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” The gospels share parables of the loving shepherd who goes out of his way for even one lost sheep. To understand Jesus’ teaching here, we have to view it from the perspective of the shepherd and the sheep.
The imagery here is that people are like sheep. Sheep are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. They are very naïve and not very intelligent. Max Lucado, in his book A Gentle Thunder, says, “Sheep aren’t smart. They tend to wander into running creeks for water, then their wool grows heavy and they drown. They need a shepherd to lead them to “calm water” (Ps. 23:2). They have no natural defense – no claws, no horns, no fangs. They are helpless. Sheep need a shepherd with a “rod and … walking stick” )Ps. 23:4) to protect them. They have no sense of direction. They need someone to lead them “on paths that are right” (Ps. 23:3). So do we. We, too, tend to be swept away by water we should have avoided. We have no defense against the evil lion who prowls about seeking who he might devour. We, too, get lost.” Is. 53:6, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…”