That has been my question as I have read through John 10 the past few months. I didn’t want to read over this chapter and think, “Oh I know that.” I wanted to experience the truth of what Jesus is saying.
“I have come that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly.”
– John 10:10 NKJV
The metaphor of a shepherd is not something I relate to. I don’t know any shepherds, or sheep. That was not true of the audience Jesus was talking to. They were very familiar with the life of shepherds and sheep. As I read the passage, I notice Jesus is speaking to a mixed group, some seeking more of God, seeking truth, and some feeling threatened, hostile. From the context, having an “abundant life” can’t mean merely to be free of trouble or conflict, or gaining pleasure.
I read and imagine myself in the crowd longing for what Jesus is saying, wanting to belong, hoping what he is saying is true. Hearing Jesus’ voice, looking into his eyes, I feel drawn to him, into the peace as he describes himself as the one who calls his own – calls me by name – and leads me. I follow him because I recognize his voice. That is what I want, to hear God’s voice, to be secure in His presence, to follow where He leads.
As I did the word studies for John 10:10 in my everyday journal (two pages are shown below) the meaning starts to sink in: To belong, to be known, to be loved. That is what we all want. That is what Jesus came for. He makes the amazing statement that he knows me like the Father knows him, and I can grow to know him like that too! How far does that knowing and loving go? To the point of death on the cross where Jesus, willing, laid down his life for the sake of his people, his sheep, for me. I am so grateful.
I notice something else, Jesus said “that they may.” He gives me the choice, not pressuring me into a relationship. I am free to choose.
Another even more familiar Scripture comes to mind. I turn to Psalm 23 and as I read, it occurs to me that the Psalm is describing the abundant life Jesus is talking about. Now I am approaching Psalm 23 with the question, “What does it look like for me to live the abundant life?”