Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 10:10a (Holman) AA thief comes only to steal and to kill and to
destroy. . .@
Having emphasized thieves and robbers in the plural sense (v. 8), Jesus now turned His attention to one thief. All deceivers are merely pawns and tools of a Master Thief B Satan.
False teachers seriously injure and imperil souls, and in the end can cause their destruction. All deceivers are murderers, Satan=s weapons wielded in unholy warfare.
The prince of the power of the air, the god of this world, the great red dragon, the roaring lion B he is the hidden agent, the adversary, the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy us. Contrast him to Jesus.
John 10:10b A. . . I have come that they may have life . . .@
The Devil mistreats us. Jesus showers us with abundant kindness. Seeming to delight in testing whether God can see a sin, or be affected by it, or cares to punish it, we sin as if we doubt that God is present, pure, or powerful.
In spite of this, Jesus came to help us. God was (and is) kind to the unthankful. Jesus died for His enemies. Though we chose to be sinners, Jesus came to lift us from the clutches of Satan, the thief.
Jesus snatches us from the killer and gives us life. When born again, new life flows into us, condemnation is removed, we are delivered from the death sentence.
Life, in the New Testament, is more than mere existence. There can be a death in life.
When the purpose of our existence is ignored, life=s highest benefits can not be received. This death in life occurs when a person=s spiritual nature is dead.
A lost person has physical life and mental life, but not spiritual life. This lack of spiritual life is a condemnation. Leading to perdition, it is a condition so serious that the Bible calls it death.
Apart from Christ, people only exist. Is life worth living apart from Christ? Death is stamped on everything in this world apart from Christ. Honors die; wealth perishes; pleasures vanish.
Most people, merely enduring their existence, try to catch as many thrills as possible, and hope everything will work out okay after physical death. Hell is never considered, though it is a real, literal place of endless death.
Better never to have been born than to end up in Hell. But we were born, and cannot help it. There=s no virtue in bemoaning the inevitable. You are here on Earth. You are. Choose to move up to a higher life.
Only Jesus can make life real. All else is fleeting, passing away. A Christian near death, seeing his face in a mirror, said, AI have the image of death on the outer man, but I have the image of life on the inward one.@
People need to realize the seriousness of this matter. Earth is a graver, vaster place since Jesus died on it. In a world like ours, life can never be insignificant. There has to be more than mere existence.
There is more to have in life, but we have to come to receive it. Spiritual life is a gift, something that must be given to us by God. People have no self-restorative power in themselves.
Only God=s Spirit can implant in us living, incorruptible seed. We are so dead that we cannot be conscious of our own deadness unless the Holy Spirit impresses it on our heart. Once the Holy Spirit convinces us of our deadness, He points us to Jesus, the only possible source of life.
Spiritual life is not a result of works and good deeds. A person who is dead cannot work for life. People must be brought to life first. Then they work because of life, not for life.
If we could have life apart from Jesus coming to Earth, why did He come? If life could be ours apart from the cross, why was Jesus nailed to it? If there could be any other way, why shed blood? If we can have life apart from the Holy Spirit=s work, why does He still deal with us?
John 10:10c A. . . and have it in abundance.@
Jesus offers not only life, but also a life that keeps improving in quality. Physical and mental life decline, but spiritual life in Christ improves.
The Greek phrase Ahave it in abundance@ means to have a surplus, a super-abundance. To know Jesus is super-abundance in itself, yet He offers ever more of Himself, always something better.
God is not satisfied to give us only bare essentials. Enough is a measured word, a sufficiency and no more; economy, not profusion. God never deals this way. With Him there is always a magnificent overplus.
Jesus does not offer an extension of physical life or an increase of material wealth. The abundant life is one lived at an ever higher level in obedience to God=s will. This lets us reflect more and more of God=s glory.
We are living the abundant life when we are growing more and more like Jesus. Progress is an essential characteristic in the God-life.
Too often people are satisfied with mere pardon. We don=t need to think less of our pardon, but should think more of our continued progress.
We were once sick sinners in a hospital on fire. Jesus saved us from the fire, but we brought our sin nature along with us. We needed rescue first, but now need healing also. We were pardoned in order to be purified.
Unfortunately, many are as childish and weak as we were when Jesus first saved us. We need more power. Before Pentecost the disciples were a pitiful lot, but when Jesus poured the Holy Spirit on them, they became different men.
The abundant life will include more power, increased love, greater sensitivity. When Jesus gives us Amore life@ we become more sensitive spiritually. We need this extra sensitivity.
Growing closer to Jesus gives us an ever increasing sensitivity in all the ways of God. We sense the Lord more, sense His presence more, and sense His voice more. We are more and more aware of Him. A Jesus-life is by far the best life to live.
Missionaries brought the message of Jesus to the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria in the Middle Ages. Edwin, Prince of Northumbria, gathered his nobles to discuss this new religion.
An elderly warrior stood up and said, AThe life of man on earth (is brief), enduring for a moment, compared to the length of time which precedes and follows it. This lengthy time is dark and uncomfortable for us. It tortures us by the impossibility of our knowing it. If about this the new doctrine can teach us anything in any degree certain, it deserves we should follow it.@ With this the new belief was accepted amid acclamations of the assembly.
It is possible to leave our uncertainty for certainties, our death for life. Jesus invites and enables us to do both.