“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”—John 10:10
Many of us have heard this statement of Jesus. Some of us are more familiar with translations of this verse that say Jesus gives us an “abundant” life. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how some people think that life lived God’s way is boring, but Jesus says the opposite. He says that it’s Satan who takes life and ruins life. Jesus gives life, and not just any life, but the best possible life.
But did you ever stop to ask yourself: Did Jesus live a full life?
There are only a few options, if you think about it: a) Jesus was lying, and the life He gives is not that great, b) Jesus really does give us a great life, but in order to make it available to us He had to live a miserable life, or c) Jesus not only offers us a full, abundant life, but lived a full, abundant life himself.
Did Jesus have a good life? Did He enjoy his life? Was he happy? Let’s look at some of the facts: He died young, at age 33. This meant He never married, never knew the joys of being a husband and father. He was poor, and at times even homeless. He slept on the ground and depended on others to provide for his basic needs. He was misunderstood, persecuted, and died an agonizing death.
On the other hand, His needs were always met. He had food and clothing. He had good friends. He lived his life with a strong sense of purpose, and enjoyed the fulfillment of knowing that he was doing exactly what He was on earth to do. He experienced deep love and genuine community among his faithful followers. And more importantly, he enjoyed unbroken fellowship with His heavenly Father. His prayer life was rich and intimate. He never complained or expressed any kind of jealousy or dissatisfaction.
Furthermore, Jesus had the privilege of knowing that his life was a tremendous blessing to others. He healed the sick and raised the dead. By His teaching, Jesus gave people hope and peace and the knowledge of God’s will and God’s love. While he walked the earth, there were hundreds of people who were grateful for Him. Then He died on the cross to reconcile us to our Creator, and today there are billions of people, some here on earth and some already in His presence, who are grateful for His life.
So did Jesus life a full, abundant life? I believe He did. Yes, he endured hardship. Yes, he suffered and died. But I don’t see any evidence in Scripture that He was resentful or unhappy. The Bible says the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, and many other good things (Galatians 5:22). There has never been someone more in touch with the Holy Spirit than Jesus was, so if the Holy Spirit can give us those things, it’s safe to say that Jesus had them. He lived a life of love, and joy, and peace, the same full and abundant life that is available to us.
So what does this mean for us? It means that an abundant life is not the same as a selfish life. Our world tells us that to get the most out of life, we have to maximize pleasure and avoid pain at all costs. Life is short, so we have to grab what we want while we can. The problem with this is that most of us don’t have the resources to do that. Vacations are temporary and expensive, our health fails us sooner than we had hoped, and there is just no time. There are children to raise and responsibilities to fulfill. “Abundant life” as the world defines it is reserved for the beautiful people in the commercials, always just out of our reach.
Jesus shows us a better way. He shows us that an abundant life can be a life lived for others. An abundant life can even be a sacrificial life. When we pursue the will of God and the good of others, we may not end up with all the things we wanted, but we find fulfillment, peace, joy, and the blessing of being a blessing. When we give ourselves away to our children, our neighbors, our church, our God-given responsibilities, we live lives of fruitfulness instead of regret. We experience true love, in our human relationships and our relationship with God. The life Jesus gives us, like the life He lived, is a rich life, a good life, a blessed life.
And, let’s not forget, it’s an eternal life! Really, we can’t answer the question “did Jesus live a full life?” without taking eternity into account. The answer is: yes He did, and He still is! Jesus’ life just keeps getting better and better. There were times in His earthly life that I’m sure didn’t feel all that abundant: times of being hungry, times of being misunderstood and rejected. The Garden of Gethsemane. The cross. But all of those have been more than made up for now by the joy and fulfillment of having won the victory over sin and death, purchased eternity for us, and being restored to His Father’s side in glory. Now he enjoys a life of welcoming more and more brothers and sisters into His family and anticipating eternity with them in the new heavens and the new earth. What a life!
It will be the same for us. When Jesus said that he came to give us full, abundant life, He wasn’t limiting Himself to these few years on earth. He was talking about something that starts now and goes on forever in the presence of God. Something we can taste now and feast upon for all of eternity. We don’t have to be afraid to live like Jesus did, because we will live like Jesus does! Let’s let Him show us what abundance truly looks like, now and forever.