“…..I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
In this dialogue, Jesus reveals the purpose behind His assuming carnal form and sojourning in the world; that those that seek Him might have life, and have it abundantly!
What an astounding concept! What an incredible step to take! The king of heaven putting aside His crown, voluntarily surrendering the power and authority of divine majesty and imprisoning Himself in the virgin womb of a poor peasant girl for nine months! For the One through whom “….all things came into being……” to submit to the travail of childbirth and the discipline of mortal parents is beyond comprehension; the humility and nobility of such an act is breathtaking; the Creator taking on the form of the created.
It is little wonder that the world will not believe; it is not surprising that those who He has called and chosen need the power of the Holy Spirit to accept and have faith in such a story; it is a triumph of the unassailable authority of truth over the unbelieving rejection of unrenewed minds. Yet this most remarkable event in the history of mankind had an object; there was a definite purpose, which Jesus states here with candour and simplicity; that we might have life and have it abundantly.
You will note that He did not come to establish His kingdom on earth, nor to start a revolution, or to raise the dead, heal the sick or do any of the other outstanding and miraculous things that He truly did, and which are foretold in the prophetic scriptures and chronicled in the gospels and epistles. These things were incidental to His purpose in coming, which was that we might have life and have it abundantly.
If we do not see much abundant life about us, or if we do not have abundant life ourselves, it is because God’s people have failed to take hold of the purpose behind Jesus carnal manifestation, and to identify themselves with that purpose. We seize the incidental at the expense of the essential.
But if the purpose of Jesus’ time on earth was that we might have life and have it abundantly, then that purpose deserves some examination and study. Our eager spirits cry out to God – What is abundant life? How do we attain to it?
The place to start, I believe, is in first understanding that the purpose of Jesus coming was twofold – firstly, that we might have life, and secondly, that we might have abundant life. Clearly, Jesus is meaning to convey that these are two different things; He seems to be saying that one can have life, yet not have it abundantly.
Such a thought immediately pierces the spirit, for, in the deepest recesses of our heart, we know it to be true. How lacking we are in the abundance of life, the gift of which was the purpose in Jesus’ earthly life! Sadly, many Christians – indeed, probably most Christians – have life, but do not have it abundantly; yet this is what Jesus purposed for us; this was the divine intention and desire!
So what is this abundant life for which our heavenly Lord gave up His majesty and divine authority for a season, and came to earth to dwell amongst us? It must be important, for in coming, He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Let’s look at it by imagining a vertical scale of 0 to 100. Life begins at 0, when we are begotten again of the Holy Spirit, repent, have faith in God and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ; we are redeemed from bondage to Satan and transferred from death into life; we are justified; we are reconciled to God. Hallelujah!!!
At this point we have life, but we do not have abundant life. Abundant life is at the very top of the scale; it is 100. Abundant life is what Jesus had in His earthly life.
Many are born again in glorious circumstances and leap from death into life, zooming up to, say 40% on the abundant life scale. Life thereafter may sometimes be a slow slide down the scale, coming to rest at a point just above the starting line. Others find a spot on the scale where they feel comfortable, and hover there in a spiritual vacuum, waiting for their souls to be released from their bodies. Some stay at 1% or 10% or reach somewhere on the scale where they settle; few go on to 100% – abundant life! But this is to miss what Jesus called us to and what Jesus wants us to have; He wants us to have what He had – abundant life; in His carnal life, Jesus was 100% on the abundant life scale.
Life, of course, is a relative thing. As we go on with God, we can look back and see that, relative to where we were, we have much life; if we are 10% on the abundant life scale, and we look back and see when we were in death, then our 10% looks very good indeed, relatively. And so it is. But relative to abundant life, relative to where God has called us, relative to the purpose behind the coming of the Lord of Glory, that 10% is not the place where we want to remain. We should not be satisfied to settle with anything less than Jesus came to give us – abundant life!
To do that, we need to look less over our shoulders at the distance travelled and more in front of us at the distance yet to travel. In a sense, the abundant life scale can be a bit like a greasy pole. If we look back to see how far we have come, we will inevitably begin to start sliding downwards again. Similarly, if we look across at our fellow travellers on their greasy poles to see how we are going against them, down we will surely go. The more we struggle and strive too, the more likely we are to become frustrated in our efforts.
Indeed, there is but one way to reach the top of this greasy pole that is the abundant life scale, and that is to fix your eyes steadfastly on the very top. This is where Jesus is, at 100%, and if we keep eyes upon Him, we will be drawn upwards without any effort on our own part. Nothing else will suffice except that Jesus Himself becomes the object of your fixation; unknowingly, you are gently moved towards the pinnacle of unspeakable joy – abundant life!
In these dark days, God is calling His people to go on to abundant life. Our usefulness to God, our capacity to serve Him, our faithfulness in the coming trials, are all in direct correlation to our position on the abundant life scale. If we have much life on the scale, we have much use for God. Abundant life is a potent witness to the world of God’s grace and power; the only time it appeared in the world, in the life of Jesus, it was so powerful that the world clamoured to destroy it, lest it overturn the established system of authority set up by men and owing its allegiance to “the ruler of this world”.
Abundant life is living in Christ. There is a difference between living a life of Christian habits and living in Christ. The former is passive, the latter dynamic. In the former you are still in charge; having chosen to become a Christian, you are following after your choice; you know the way to go and you are following it. In the latter, you are following someone else, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is in charge and you don’t know where you are going; you are just following.
Consider a little child going somewhere with his father; the little lad doesn’t know, and doesn’t really care, where he is going. He is just going out with Dad. He just takes Dad’s hand and follows happily, just enjoying being with his father. No fears, no worries, no anxieties; nothing to do but be led along by his father.
That’s abundant life.