“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).
What is this full, abundant life? I’m not sure I have it all figured out yet, but here are a few thoughts. The word used here is the same root word used in Matthew 14:20 and 15:37 referring to the abundant leftovers from feeding the 5000 and the 4000. It is also used in Romans 5:15 referring to the grace of God “super-abounding” through Jesus. It is more than enough, overflowing, extraordinary, profuse, and superfluous.
The context of John 10:10 is Jesus’ teaching that He is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep and they know Him and follow Him; He lays down His life for the sheep; He protects His sheep and cares for them. He is not simply a caretaker, but the owner and master of the sheep. He has a vested interest in the flock. Psalm 23 is a beautiful picture of our relationship with the Shepherd.
I should note that some have used John 10:10 as a basis for their “health & wealth” doctrine, claiming that God wants to give us abundant physical blessings. I won’t take the time to refute that here as many learned men have already tackled that subject. There are plenty of Scriptures that could be cited against that teaching.
So what is this abundance? Second Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” Ephesians 1:3 puts it this way, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Paul goes on to list some of those blessings in the next several verses: chosen, adopted, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and understanding…
We have the Creator and Lord of the Universe as our Father— we are heirs together with Christ. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” (James 1:17). This page lists just a few of the promises we can claim in Christ: http://ficm.org/index.php?command=textwhoamiinchrist
If we believed all that the Bible says is true about us, perhaps we would come closer to experiencing this abundance in our daily life. But the fact is that our life on earth is marred by sin—both our own and others. The creation itself is damaged by the effects of sin. We live in bodies subject to disease and death. Governments, societies, and churches are full of flawed people with limited understanding. So this life often seems far from abundant. In 2 Corinthians 1:4-5 Paul writes that God “consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are abundant for us, so also our consolation is abundant through Christ.” The sufferings of this age are tempered with the grace of God, and are used not only for our growth but for the growth of others.
Abundant life overflows to others. “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). We reflect God’s light and life to those around (Phil. 2:15). We are conduits of God’s grace.
A final thought comes from Matthew 28:20, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” No matter what we go through, the good, the bad and the ugly, Jesus is with us. We don’t have to ask Him to show up or plead for His attention. He is there whether we acknowledge Him or not. And not only is He present, He knows from personal experience what it is like to suffer in this life (Heb. 2:14-18), and He “knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matt. 6:8). When life is hard and we feel like we’re just barely getting by, we can take comfort in knowing that God knows our needs, hears our prayers, and is always present. The abundant life doesn’t depend on our feelings—it is already ours in Christ. May we all be encouraged by this truth!