“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 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 10:9-10
This full, abundant life is promised by Jesus to those who’ve entered through the gate, who’ve found salvation in Him—and in Him alone. The abundant life involves the finding of pasture, of sustenance, of a place to feed and rest securely, without fear. And it’s so much more.
I find myself contemplating what more of this fullness, this abundant life, would look like for me. More material wealth? Definitely not. But less anxiety, more peace and joy? Greater purpose, direction, fulfillment? Increased energy and exuberance—spiritually, emotionally, even physically? To use another of Jesus’ analogies, would it mean a more continual drawing forth from the Vine, more fruitfulness?
The abundant life Jesus promises lies in stark contrast to the thief’s goal. Ultimately, the thief opposes salvation. He steals, kills, and destroys. To be clear, this passage primarily addresses a believer’s once-for-all decision to follow Christ and listen to his voice. The thief can’t steal a believer’s salvation. Still, at times I allow him to wreak a degree of havoc in my life. I become sidetracked by listening to the wrong voices and forgetting that Jesus is the only way out of my muddle, that He is the One True Gate, the one way to abundant life.
Maybe I try to hurdle the fence through the power of good deeds or self-promoting actions. Or perhaps I try to tunnel under the fence by leaning on manmade philosophies that bely my true spiritual condition. Maybe I even try to enter by gates of my own making.
Or perhaps—and there’s a fine line here–I attempt to let the words and counsel of friends serve as a gate rather than turning to Jesus himself. They may point to the gate, to Jesus, but that doesn’t suffice if I don’t go to him directly.
The result? My confidence in God, my joy in him, the assurance of forgiveness and of loving acceptance are stolen from me, leading to despair—the polar opposite of abundant life.
It’s only in keeping my eyes on Jesus that I can stay on the path that leads through the One True Gate. This basic truth is the one that matters.
And as I feast in his pasture, giving thanks for His once-for-all sacrifice, trusting in his loving, powerful presence, relying on his precious promises, I begin to know more of the abundant life he alone can give.
Are you allowing yourself to become sidetracked? If so, by what, or by whom?
What basic truth can you hold onto when you’re tempted to despair?