Everyone loves John 10:10, but we tend only to quote the last half of the verse. Here’s the whole thing:
“A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10).
Jesus was drawing a contrast. He called Himself the good shepherd. He not only wanted the sheep to have life but abundant life. You see both kinds of life emphasized in John’s Gospel.
First, Jesus came so you can have eternal salvation. If you believe in Him, you become born again and have everlasting life (John 3:15-18).
Second, Jesus came so that you can have a deeper experience of life with Him—what He here calls abundant life. This involves abiding in His love, being filled with the Spirit, loving one another, and bearing fruit like a branch on a vine (John 14:15–15:17).
It’s inspiring to think about the life that Christ gives to you. It’s a happy and positive thought. No wonder people focus on John 10:10—at least the second half of the verse.
However, don’t forget the first half, where Jesus warned about a thief.
That thief hasn’t come to give you life. On the contrary, he comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
Who’s the thief?
Jesus warned about thieves and bandits (plural) in v 8, alluding to false teachers and false messiahs. But when Jesus warned about the thief (singular), I think you can discern a warning about Satan.
People often blame God for their ills, such as the death of a loved one, war, crashing economies, sicknesses, and ruined businesses, marriages, or relationships. In your overly secular mindset, you might forget that Satan is just as much at work in the world as Jesus is, only he’s up to no good. As Peter wrote, “your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). In short, the devil wants to hurt you and spiritual warfare is real.
So, a balanced approach to the world recognizes there are two forces at work in life. Jesus is the good shepherd, while Satan is the evil thief. Jesus gives life while Satan takes it. Jesus builds you up while Satan tears you down.
So, you have a choice: do you want an abundant life with Christ or a ruined life with the destroyer? Do you prefer the shepherd or the thief?
Thought for the day: If you hang around a thief, expect to be fleeced.
"Do you want an abundant life with Christ or a ruined life with the destroyer?" That choice reminds me of my life verse, Romans 8:6. To be carnally minded in death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
Great point, Bob!