I am come that they might have life more abundantly. John 10:10
Jesus concludes the opening paragraph of His dissertation about the shepherd and His flock with the above declaration. The point He appears to be making is that when an individual truly understands the relationship of the shepherd and the sheep, the responsibility of the shepherd to the sheep and the recognition and the response of the sheep to the shepherd, then the by-product of said relationship is an abundant life, a full and meaningful life. Unfortunately, it appears that the disciples did not understand His story and Jesus had to elaborate on His point.
Today our understanding is supposedly greater and we purport to understand Jesus’ point about the full and meaningful life, a life that is centered and focused on Christ as we follow His example (1 Peter 1:21). Having said this, however, this is the issue I have with me, a question I too often asked myself. Since I know and am absolutely assured that Jesus came to give me life, why then is my life so full of situational angst and topical despair and mitigated misery and far too many “woe is Me” declarations? Why is it so difficult to maintain my confidence equilibrium in Christ? Why am I constantly spending more time comparing me to them rather than accepting who I am in Christ? Why am I still waiting for my goals to come to pass and my dreams to come to fruition? Lord, where is my abundant life?
In the text, John 10:1-10, Jesus presents to His disciples a thesis on shepherding. This would not be a subject with which the disciples were not familiar. Surely, even as some of them were now otherwise occupied, these men understood the idea of the good shepherd who cares and is concerned about the sheep under his care. They would understand the idea of the sheepfold and the shepherd but the problem is that when Jesus spoke to them of the familiar, while they literally understood the concept, spiritually they did not have a clue.
v1 – “Truly, most assuredly” Kind of self-explanatory, isn’t it? If an individual comes in some other way than through the door, that person is up to no good and means no good for the sheep. They do not enter to give; they enter to take, to deceive, and to destroy (What has the enemy stolen from me?) They enter with an action and an attitude that is disruptive and alarming to the sheep. In my state of misguided musings and meanderings, the thief and the robber controlled me (How has the enemy controlled me?).
v2 – The one who comes in the door is the one in charge of the sheep, the one who has the ultimate responsibility for the well-being of the sheep. This one enters with confidence and an assurance that is calming to the sheep.
v3 – The individual in charge of the door recognizes that one who is in charge of the sheep and will open the door without checking credentials or requiring a strip search. Rev. 3:20 - As the keeper of the door of my heart, I open the door of my heart to allow the shepherd entrée with no hesitation because I recognize His authority as my keeper and I willingly acquiesce to His guidance and care. When the shepherd speaks the sheep respond because they recognize His voice. They know the voice of the one who cares for them and they willingly follow Him. (Is there any time when the sheep will not respond to the voice of the shepherd? “When they are sick.”) (How consistently have I responded to the shepherd’s voice?)
v4 – The real shepherd does not herd the sheep; he leads the sheep. He shows them the way and all He does is speak and they follow (How consistently am I following the shepherd?).
v5 – When a stranger approaches and speaks, it will not matter how soothing or encouraging or enticing the words are, the sheep will flee for they will not recognize that voice as the voice of the one who genuinely loves them and is not out to “fleece” them (Have you ever noticed that Jesus never talks about fleecing or shearing the sheep? While this procedure may look painless, it leaves the sheep naked, subject to bug bites and skin irritations with the soothing lanolin of the wool stripped away).
v6 – They did not understand! The disciples were spending more time focusing on what they thought they knew than what the Master was trying to get them to understand. They were too focused on the “now.” When we focus on the now, we miss the spiritual truths that ground us in the abundant life. The disciples thought they knew more than they actually knew.
v7 – “Truly, most assuredly” – Jesus breaks it down for them; “Take your focus off of what you think you understand and put your focus on me.” “I just told you that I AM the shepherd, but no only am I the shepherd, I AM the door through which you enter into love and care and rest.
v8 – Anyone who comes before me proclaiming to be the real thing is counterfeit and their intent is for their own self-gain and greed and not your well-being.
v9 – “I AM the door.” Jesus reiterates again (Why does Jesus make this statement again?) Anyone who enters by me will come in and go out and find pasture (What do you suppose “pasture” means to a sheep?) Ps 23: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.” Here is what I see when I hear “pasture.” It is green. It is lush. It is expansive. I see the shepherd standing and watching and because of His presence I am not afraid. There is rest in the pasture. There is no need or want in the pasture. There is abundant provision in the pasture. There is protection and care in the pasture.
v10: Here is the point to all that Jesus has said: If you will trust me as your shepherd; if you will submit your will to my will and heed my voice only, then your life will be full and meaningful. You will be complete in me and the things you do, the goals you set and the dreams you dream will have purposeful significance not only for your life but also for the lives of every person who crosses your path. This is the turning point for each and every one of us. When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, it not only means redemption for my soul but also responsibility for my life, the promise of a full and meaningful life (John 14:6).
Think on These Things:
o Read and reflect on Luke 9:23. Record your thoughts. What is this text saying to you? Do a word study on the words, “deny, sacrifice, follow.”
o What do you perceive as your personal challenges to following Jesus daily?
II. Holding On
Job 2:9-10 (NAS)
9Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast your integrity?
Curse God and die!"
10But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks.
Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?"
Proverbs 24:10 (New King James Version)
10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small.
These are challenging times. The words of the Negro Spiritual ring true today, “There is trouble all over this world.” Very few people are immune to the specters of job loss and unmet material needs, foreclosed homes and bankrupt pension funds. Spouses can, and do, walk away from commitment and children too often abandon the home-based family values. Health issues and the diminished capacity of aging parents can catch us by surprise.
In view of all the negatives that can happen to any of us, how can we maintain our balance when the strong winds of adversity blow across the landscapes of our lives? What do we do when we find ourselves at the end of our rope.
1) Make peace with your place (Phil 4:11-13)
You are not an oversight. God cares about you and He knows where you are (the hairs on our head are numbered; our names are written on His hand). He never loses our place, never dozes off. We should not despair that God has forgotten us. (Psalm 121)
We are all fearfully and wonderfully made, created for such a time as this. (Psalm 139)
We must pursue contentment.
2) Discover your purpose
Common question about self: Why was I created?
➢ Isaiah 43:7 (Created to make God look good)
➢ I Peter 2:9 (Created to praise Him)
➢ Acts 1:9 (Created to be His witness)
Waiting until we feel like doing something guarantees that we will most likely not do anything, especially when the darkness of trouble takes up residence in our lives. When we are troubled, the natural inclination is to draw away, to find that corner in the dark in the back.
Here’s a truth: First you do it, and then you feel it! When our situation is less than what we want or expect, we must turn away from the “blues” and stay connected to the will, the way and the word of God.
The Will (I will do it): Jeremiah 29:11-14
The Way (I will walk in it): Isaiah 30:20-22
The Word (I believe it): Psalm 119:105
3) Embrace your call (Luke 9:23)
Charles Stanley says: “Obey God and leave the consequences to Him.”
God has designed the schematic for our lives. When we study and pray and obey, He will reveal it to us.
We must make it a priority to stay connected to the body, to be constant in prayer, to study the Word and to be obedient.
The psalmist declares, "My soul follows hard after God."
Soul: Total self, mind, will, emotions.
All of the above is about a mindset, an act of the will. When the will acts, the mind and the emotions will follow.
➢ The will says “Let’s do it;”
➢ The mind says, “I understand;”
➢ The emotions stabilize.
Pursue Christ with passion, with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength.
A final word from the Lord to us: Romans 8:28-39