Ever received a gift you already had? You probably tried to be gracious about it but, deep down, you may have felt like it was a waste. Who needs something they’ve already got? (With gift cards from Oscar Delta being a notable exception.)
So when we read in John 10:10 that Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” a part of us says, “Great!” while another part of us scratches our heads and politely says, “Uh, thanks.” It seems like, if Jesus was going to go to all that trouble to come down here and live on this earth and die a gruesome death, he would do it to bring us something we don’t already have. I mean, we’ve already got life, right?
Or do we?
Obviously, Jesus was referring to something beyond mere physical life. But what exactly was he talking about? What is life supposed to look like? Feel like? What are we supposed to do with this physical life we already have?
Jesus does not have the answer to this question, he is the answer. In John 11:25, Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life.” So, when he says in chapter 10 that he has come to give us life, what he really means is that he has come to give us himself. Having abundant life does not mean having more of the good things in life that make us happy. Having an abundant life is all about having him.
Jesus, the great Creator and Designer of life, knows that our need goes beyond the context of our lives, right down to the source itself. We must be careful not to confuse the two. Ever wonder how some people with such rich context (lots of money, power, status, etc.) can be so miserable, while others who have nothing can display such contentment and joy? The answer is not context.
When Jesus said that he came to bring us life, he wasn’t promising better context. He was promising himself. Jesus communicates this to us over and over in scripture:
Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
— John 6:35
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
— John 4:13-14
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
— John 8:12
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”
— John 11:25
Bread. Water. Light. Life. Jesus claims to embody all these necessities in himself. If that is the case, then our greatest need is simply to admit to ourselves that we need what he has to offer and keep ourselves close to the source.
Because he is the only gift we truly need.