“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10
Jesus referred to Himself as the good shepherd (see John 10:11,14). Shepherds were responsible for caring for the sheep and for their overall well-being. In Bible times, sheep played a significant role in the functioning of society. They provided both food and clothing, and prior to Jesus, they were also required for certain sacrifices in the Temple. In the midst of Jesus identifying Himself as both the door of the sheep and the good shepherd, He drops this powerful nugget of truth: “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they have life and have it in abundance.” His audience would have understood the threat of predators to sheep. Sheep were helpless to defend themselves against being attacked. They needed a shepherd.
So it is with us. We have a predator, a wolf, a lion prowling around us, seeking to devour us. The enemy of our soul longs to steal from us, to kill us, and to destroy us. Unlike sheep, our physical lives are not usually in danger. But what of our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being? Our first mistake is that we frequently underestimate our enemy. Society has watered down our understanding of the devil, portraying him to be a little dude with red horns sitting on our shoulder whispering into our ear, alluring us with fun and games. Yet the game he plays is a deadly one. And he doesn’t mean it in any sort of fun way. Because we belong to Jesus, he wants us rendered utterly useless for the kingdom of Christ. He wants to see us destroyed. In this verse, the definition of his destruction includes the idea to decimate, to ravage, to demolish, to obliterate. This is not child’s play and the time has come for us to stop viewing the enemy as harmless. He seeks to attack us in our weakest areas. Not only does he want to attack us, but he also wants to decimate us. Not on the outside, but internally. Make no mistake, my brother or sister in Christ, Satan is doggedly determined to destroy us and he will not easily be dissuaded. He unleashes an onslaught against us targeting our identities as women, men, wives, husbands, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, and friends. He focuses his arsenal on our relationships, our peace, our joy, our contentment. He seeks to obliterate any and all sense of security to which we cling. He whispers lies. He shouts them. He sings them. He aims them. And he does all that he can to try to make us believe him.
Praise God this is not the end of the story. We have a good shepherd. One who willingly lays down His life for us. One who protects us from the thief who has come to steal and to kill and to destroy. Instead, He reminds us that He came to give us life–abundant life. We have been conditioned to define abundance in the material sense. In Old Testament days, God’s blessing was often found in the abundance of land, of harvest, of animals, of possessions. But, for us under the new covenant, abundant life is not found amongst that which we can see or count. We have an abundant spiritual inheritance. We have received the Holy Spirit within us as a down payment for our inheritance that is to come which is eternity in heaven with Christ. Jesus was not only referencing the abundant eternal life He has provided for us. He also made a way and desires for us to experience abundant life right now. Jesus offers us His peace that transcends all understanding. He presents us a new and secure identity in Him. He has forgiven us and does not condemn us. He is the means by which we can have health and happiness in our relationships. He is the source of our contentment. He fills us to the fullest measure so that we can be overflowing with His joy. He is our security. He is the anchor for our soul. He is our hope. He is our salvation. He offers us a life with Him that is abundant and beyond our wildest imaginations and dreams. His definition of abundance is exceedingly more than anything we can ask, think, or imagine. And not with regards to material possessions, though He does bless us beyond measure in that way as well. It is time for us to resist the schemes and plots of the devil and no longer allow him to rob us of our peace, joy, contentment, security, and any other form of abundance we have access to in Christ Jesus. Our promise is that Jesus Christ came to give us life and to give it to us in abundance. Abundant joy. Abundant peace. Abundance of Him. Abundant love. Abundant security. Abundant certainty of our identity. Abundance in relationships. Abundant contentment. Abundant fellowship. Abundant patience. Abundant sense of well-being.
The psalmist, David, wrote these treasured words found in Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
Jesus is the Good Shepherd; therefore, we shall not want. He offers us green pastures, quiet waters, restoration of our souls, guidance, protection, comfort, goodness, mercy, and His presence forever. Sounds pretty abundant to me.
So what now? What do we do with all of this? We take action. We recognize that we are under attack from our enemy and we view him as the threat he is. Then we mobilize our forces by invoking the name of Jesus to come to our aid and to fight on our behalf. We release the hold the enemy has over our emotions, guilt, shame, and fears. We regain and reclaim the territory he has stolen and surrender it into the loving care of Jesus. We redefine abundance according to Jesus’ dictionary. We believe that Jesus did come for us to have abundant life and we take Him at His word. We expect Him to do exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine. And we receive from Him all He sacrificed to give us. He is the giver of all good gifts. The most valuable gifts we receive from Him are often the most intangible. Go forth in victory and claim the abundant life in Jesus’ name.