The Life that has been Given Abundantly
Pr. Rejimon Jacob
Christian life is basically and essentially a relationship, a relationship between God and us. The Bible uses different metaphors to describe this relationship. Creator and Creature, a king and his subjects, father and children, husband and wife, vine and branches and so on. In the Old Testament, in several instances, the relationship is described in terms of shepherd and sheep. In the New Testament, Our relationship to God is through Jesus Christ. In john chapter 10, Jesus uses. This metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep to describe our relationship to Him and through Him to God. He is presented as one who has come in to the world of darkness as its light. He has come into a world of falsehood as truth. He has come into a world of false shepherds as the good shepherd. He has come into a world of death as the source of life.
There were a large number of false prophets and messianic pretenders at the time of Jesus. As a result the people were led astray. When Jesus saw the crowd He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. It was in contrast to the false and irresponsible leaders of His Time that Jesus said he was the good shepherd. Against the ancient and contemporary backgrounds Jesus declares both as he “door” (gate) for the sheep (Jn. 10:7,9) and as ‘the Good Shepherd’ (Jn. 10: 11,14). God here refers to the real, the true and genuine as opposed to what is symbolic or fake. As “door” Jesus is our gateway to possession of the full revelation of God and the blessings promised in the messianic age. The door keeper is God, who alone draws all believers to Jesus (Jn.6:44) as a gift for Him to look after (Jn. 6: 39,17:6). In the Old Testament, if God was the true shepherd of God’s people and if Jesus here claims this role for Himself, it is because he and the father are one (Jn. 10:30). And their ambition is to make the whole believers one in Christ. Through that we can be His witness, as being the ambassadors of Christ.
How Concretely is Jesus the Good Shepherd?
He exists to save the sheep, gives them free access to pasture (Jn.10:9), Supplies them with abundance or fullness of life. That is spiritually, morally and materially (Jn.10:10). Jesus revealed to the Jewish leaders, but why did they not understand His words or grasp the significance of his word: They were not His sheep. We became His sheep by believing (Rom.11:33-36).God has His sheep and he knows who they are. They will hear his voice and respond, so that they may receive the gift and eternal life by trusting the Savior. When he trusts the Savior, he becomes a member of God’s family and a sheep in the flock. Then he hears that has “chosen….in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4). In the Bible, divine election and human responsibility are perfectly balanced and what God has joined together, we must not put asunder. Election is not primarily privilege but responsibility. Election brings honor and privilege linked with responsibility of service and the election is for the service of the whole world rather than for honor from men. When the responsibility is withheld, election looses its meaning and therefore fails.
Jesus went on to explain that his sheep are secure in His hand and in the Father’s hand. “They shall never perish in His promise (Jn.3:16; 6:39; 17:12; 18:9). The false shepherd brings destruction (Jn.10:10) but the good shepherd sees to it that His sheep shall never perish. Each person is special in the sight of God. He cares for each one of us in a special ways. This is illustrated by the parable of the lost sheep. The security of God’s sheep is assured in several ways. First, we have “eternal life”, and that cannot be conditional and still be eternal. Second, this life is a gift, not something that we earn or merit (Rom. 11:6).
The Gracious Design of the Shepherd
Jesus gave us His promise that His sheep do not perish and that His promise cannot be broken. Jesus was talking about sheep- the true believers-and not counterfeits. The dog and the pig will go back into sin (2 Peter 2: 20-22) but the sheep, being a clean animal, will follow the shepherd into green pastures. The false professor will talk about his faith and even his works, but he will never make it into heaven (Mat. 7:13-19). The person who says there is another gate is a thief and a robber. Thief misleads and deceives the sheep, leading them through a gate that leads to destruction. They want the wool and the sheep, not to follow Jesus but to follow them for their position. They do all they can to secure the sheep’s, whether it is based on the Word of God or not. By leading the sheep away from the restrictiveness of Christ, the false teacher becomes a thief – a thief in that he steals the soul of the sheep from God, leading it into a sheep pen that will be destroyed. It causes the sheep never to know the true shepherd. Most of us know people who professed to be saved and then went back in to sin, their doing so only proved that they never really turned to Christ to begin with. Jesus promised security to anyone who is true sheep. When danger comes, the hired servant will run away. The false shepherd came to rob, to kill and destroy the sheep. The present age proves it in different ways. But the good shepherd loves his sheep to the extent that he lays dawn His life for that sake of his sheep. He risks His life to save the sheep. His whole concern is the life of the sheep. The false shepherds destroy life. The good shepherd saves life. The voice of the good shepherd is the voice of sacrificing love for His sheep. The sheep will recognize it and will follow Him. Jesus has a three fold relationship to His sheep. He has a loving relationship because He died for the sheep, as well as a living relationship because He care for the sheep. It is also a lasting relationship, for He keeps His sheep and not a one it lost.
Meaning and Purpose of Life
Jesus is the only gate that leads to life and life in abundance. ‘Life’ is one of the great words of the scriptures. The word ‘life’ and the verb ‘to live’ or ‘to have life’ have a depth of meaning. Life is associated with light, gladness, fullness, order and active being (Ps. 27:1; Job 33:25ff; Prov.3:16) and contrasted the darkness, sorrow, emptiness, chaos and silence which are characteristic of death and inanimate being. (Ecc.11:8; Ps.115:17).
Jesus has provided a happiness for them who believe in Him. The estate settled upon them is rich and valuable, it is life, eternal life, man has a living soul, therefore the happiness provided is life. Man has an immortal soul, therefore the happiness provided is eternal life. Life eternal is the chief good of a soul immortal. The manner of conveyance is free: “I give it to them, it is not bargained and sold upon a valuable consideration, but given by the grace of Jesus Christ”. The donor has power to give it. He who is the foundation of life and father of eternity has authorized Christ to give eternal life. He came to put life into the flock, the church, which had seemed like a valley full of dry bones than like a pasture covered over with flocks. Christ came to vindicate divine truths or purify divine ordinances, to redress grievances and to revive dying zeal, to seek those of his flock that were lost, to bind up that which was broken (Ez.34:16) and this is to His church is as life from the dead. He came to give life particularly to them who believe in Him. Life is inclusive of all good and stands in opposition to the death threatened (Gen.2:17); that we might have life, that we might be justified, sanctified and at last glorified.
True life is granted in Jesus Christ who become a ‘life-giving spirit’ (1 Cor.15:45). He is ‘the resurrection and the life” (Jn.11:25), “the bread of life” (Jn.6:35) and His words are “spirit and life” (Jn.6:63). The core of the gospel proclamation is that he who was dead is ‘alive for evermore’ (Acts 2:3ff; Rev.1:5,18) and by the power an indestructible life, gives life to the world (Heb.7:16; Jn.6:33). In Christ’s death and resurrection, God pierces radically into the world of man to make him see the fatality of sin and the utter grace of the new life from God–truly bestowed act of salvation. Life is the quality and essence, the energy and power, the force and principle of being. Christ is the very quality, essence and principle of life. Without Christ there would be no life. All things exist and have their being in Him.
1. Life is Perfection:- Life is all that a man must be and possess in order to live perfectly. There is what meant by life. Life is completeness of being, absolute satisfaction, the fullness of all good and the possession of all good things. It is perfect love, joy, peace, long suffering gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and self control (Gal.5:22-23). This qualities should be maintained through our life. Each person is very special in the sight of God. He cares for each one of us in a special way. Remember the privilege that God has given to us and keep the value of life which is more pleased by God.
2. Life is the opposite of perishing:- It is deliverance from condemnation and death. It is the stopping of deterioration, decay and corruption (Jn.3:16; 5:24; 10:28). God-given life is more special, we should acknowledge it and lead a spiritual life. Christian life is not a world-centered life but Christ-centered life. So this life is not a corrupted life but a holy life. He who is righteous, let him be righteous still, he who is holy, let him be holy still”. (Rev. 22:11b).
3. Life is eternal:- It is the very life of God Himself. It has more to do with quality and with that life really is than with duration. To live forever in the present world is not necessarily a good thing. Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philip.1:21). For Paul, Christ had been the beginning of life. Christ had been the continuing of life, there had never been a day when Paul had not lived in His presence, and in frightening moments Christ had been there to bid him be of good cheer (Acts 18:9,10). Christ was the end of life, for it was towards his eternal presence that life ever led. Christ was the inspiration of life, He was the dynamic of life. To him Christ had given the strength for life, first was Christ’s all-sufficient grace that was made perfect in Paul’s weakness. For him Christ was the reward of life, for to Paul the only worthwhile reward was closer fellowship with his Lord. If Christ were to be taken out of life, for Paul there would be nothing left. If we live, live with Christ, a Christ model life. We need a change in all areas. The world and man’s body need change. That changed life is found only in eternal life. The only being who can be said to be eternal is God. Therefore, life, supreme life, is found only in God. To possess eternal life is to know God. A person who knows God and obeys His commandments follow Him also maintain the supreme quality will live forever (Jn.3:14,15,30; 5:24; 6:40). We have supreme hope that we have a life after death ie forever and ever.
4 . Life only comes to a man by believing in Jesus Christ:- A man outside Jesus Christ only exists, He merely has the existence of an animal. Real life is found only in God. This is to be expected and it is logically true, for God is the creator of life. As the creator of life, He alone knows what life really is and what it is supposed to be. (Jn. 3:36; 5:24, 6:47). This is the reason He sent His son, the Lord Jesus Christ into the world to show men what life is, exactly what it involves (Gal. 5:22,23). The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is for the life of the human being to redeem them from death and lead them to the eternal life. Whatever life is and all that life is,
it is all in Jesus Christ. He is the source of life: the way, the truth, very substance and energy of life. (Jn.5:26, 1Jn. 1:2). Theodore Williams rightly emphasize that “No life will be wasted with Christ if it is completely Yeilded to Him”.
Jesus Christ has come to give life abundantly to the believers. They might have a life more abundant than that which was lost and forfeited by sin, more abundant than that which was promised by the Law of Moses, length of days in canon, more abundant than could have been expected or than we are able to ask or think. Christ came to give life and something more, something better, life with advantage, that in Christ we might not only live, but live comfortably, live plentifully, live and rejoice. The Greek phrase used for having it more abundantly means to have a super abundance of a thing. To be a follower of Jesus, to know who he is and what he mean to have a super abundance of life. When we try to live our own lives, life is a dull, dispirited thing. When we walk with Jesus, there comes a new vitality, a super abundance of life. It is only when we live with Christ that life becomes a really worth living and we begin to live in the real sense of the word of God. life in abundantance is eternal life, life without death or fear of death, life and much more. Therefore through the crucification of Jesus Christ, the whole human being who believes in Him will receive the life, which is against darkness and evil forces, and even life more abundantly that the world cannot give. Christ can give life and we can receive abundant life.