Scripture Reading: John 10:7-13
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11)
The great enemy of the gospel is religion. It robs us of joy and keeps us from the abundant life Jesus offers us. Religion is a theif that comes to steal and kill and destroy. It teaches that we must earn God’s favor by working really hard to get it. It is about performance, rule keeping, and punishment. If we are “good enough” God will accept us and love us. He is like a stern father who is waiting for his children to fail so that he can punish them. If they act like he wants, he will accept them; if they don’t he will scold them and reject them. This was the teaching of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and unfortunately this is how many people picture God today.
Jesus offers another way. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (v. 11). Jesus came to do for us that which we do not deserve. He offers Himself in our place so that we can have both eternal life to come and an abundant life now. In order to do these things, He had to die for His sheep. He freed them from the guilt of their sin. Through His sacrifice on their behalf, the sheep are loved and accepted by God. They obtain God’s love and acceptance as a gift. They don’t have to earn God’s favor; it is given to them because of the work of their Shepherd. They can experience a deep inner-joy and rest because of this.
Religion robs people of joy. It steals away the rest God offers them because they have to work tirelessly to get His favor. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (v. 10). What a contrast!
What is this abundant life that Jesus offers? It is not speaking of material abundance; it is referring to the abundance that the gospel offers. We are promised eternal life. We will live forever in the presence of God in the new heavens and new earth. We will be co-heirs with Jesus and gain the inheritance God promises us. Thus, we can live with eternity in our hearts. But the abundant life also means that we can find fulfillment and satisfaction now because we are complete in Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:9-10). We are set free from our sin and guilt now. Christ Himself lives in us (Galatians 2:20). We have a new perspective on life because we are new creatures in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17). We are secure in the hands of our Savior (John 10:28). We have His joy (John 15:11) and His peace (John 16:33). We have a life worth living!
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for the abundant life you have given to me. I have You living in me. I can see life from Your perspective and find joy when I delight in You. You are my peace and I am secure in Your hands.