A heavy rain just ended. The clouds carrying evaporative moisture experienced cooling and condensing, turning the vapor into rain. It is as if a cloud were like a towel, too heavy with moisture and it was wrung out. The soil received the rain, it seeped into the dirt and watered the roots of plants burrowed into the ground. With the rain the world turns shades of lovely lively greens; and from some of these green organic structures a harvest can be picked. This season of abundant harvest is shown in the multi-colored farmer’s market stands, as they hold a literal cornucopia of vegetables and fruits. From these harvestings, we are physically nourished for daily life. However, this is no lackluster nourishment. This harvest is rich with color, fragrance, texture and taste. It is abundant, abundance being a wave, a surge and an overflow. Late in the summer, the harvest is ample. But the life that the shepherd provides is more abundant than any a garden can produce.
Listening to the words of Jesus at the beginning of John 10, it seems as though he might have received some blank stares and puzzled looks talking about sheep and shepherding. Picking up the subject again, Jesus draws a sharp contrast between himself and robbers. While the shepherd seeks the best for the flock to keep it safe and healthy, the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy. No doubt some were pondering these words and felt their tempers rising, realizing that they – the spiritually favorable – had just been referred to as thieves. Thieves comes to rob us of joy, peace, hope, faith and to destroy the relationship with the shepherd.
I love this last contrast in verse ten. Watch the word I, “I have come.” The Lord has come, the Lord is come. And, he comes for a purpose! I have come to give life, a more abundant life. In other words, I am the shepherd and I will take care of my people. Not in a minimal way to just get them by; rather I will give of myself so that they have life more abundantly. This abundance is the kind that is measured, pressed down, shaken together and running over, (Luke 6:38). This is the abundance we cannot contain, it simply keeps overflowing from our hands, running down our arms and seeping into the ground below our feet.
“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.’” John 10: 7-10
In a world of achieve more, faster, higher and better, I occasionally hear someone speak honestly of the desire for an abundance that they cannot make. It is an abundance of life, which has nothing to do with earthbound accomplishments. It is the more of eternity, the more of agape, the more of freedom that comes from reliances on the shepherd. This is the more that cannot be destroyed or taken. This is the more of Jesus, the giver of abundant life.