The expression “life” may have different meaning for different people under different circumstances. We may speak of a “new life” when a baby makes it’s debut into a family, or someone may see hardships as simply belonging to “life.” Yet when Jesus speaks of life in John 10:10, He is not referring to natural or social life.
So what did Jesus mean when He said: “I have come that they may have life”? He was not merely referring to the span of existence between birth and death, for the people listening to Jesus did possess this life. And for many this span of time is marred by sad and disturbing occurrences that bring pain and suffering. So when Jesus was speaking of life, He meant at least two things:
1. Spiritual life: a life that emanates from a personal relationship with God through our Savior Jesus Christ. Paul writing to the Ephesians says that although at one point they were dead in trespasses and sins, they had been made alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5). Jesus says that He had come into the world so that we may have life, spiritual life through Him. When Christ walked this earth He was surrounded by people who did not have this life, just as many who live around us do not possess it. And even if in the depth of the soul of men a longing for spiritual life exists, many are not aware of the exact need they have.
2. Eternal life. When a successful young man came to Jesus and asked how he might have eternal life (Luke 18:18-23), Jesus instructed him as to what he needed to do. It was obvious that Jesus believed a person could possess eternal life in the here and now, or He would have corrected this young man’s belief of eternal life. Because of the hunger in his soul for something he did not have, he concluded that what he was lacking was eternal life. Jesus agreed with him and showed him the way to receive it.
How can a person receive this life that Jesus came to give? He told the young man to give up what he had believed to be life, and follow Jesus. To this young man, wealth and position were very dear; they had become his “life,” and until his ties to this life were severed there was no room for eternal life in his heart. Not every person deems this as his or her life, but there are many other things that ensnare our hearts and lead us to idolize either what we are or have. The cords that shackle us to anything other than Christ must be cut if we want to experience eternal life.
The other requirement Jesus places before this young man was to follow Him. This was asking a lot of the man; as a ruler, he held a public position. To follow Jesus from village to village would require him to resign from this position. Sadly, it was more than he was willing to pay, so he returned to the environment where he had been before, with the same void in his soul. He did not receive spiritual and eternal life.
The Lord states in this verse that He had come so that we may have life, but He then added: and have it more abundantly! We have to realize that Christianity does not display this “more abundant life” very well. How many can relate to the testimony of a Christian sister who lamented: “I am slowly vegetating, I am not fully cut off from the Savior, but it’s not enough to joyfully bring fruit.” This indicates a need for a deeper spiritual life, which is what Jesus is talking about, a life that is vibrant, like a cup filled over its limit, as David exclaims: “my cup runs over” (Psalm 23:5). There are depths in Christ to be experienced, there are riches to be attained beyond the surface of the Christian relationship with God. Paul writes about a life being hidden with God in Christ (Colossias 3:3). Spurgeon made the following statement: “The nearer to Jesus, the nearer to a perfect calm of heaven; the nearer to Him, the fuller the heart will be, not only of peace, but of life, and vigor, and joy.” Is this not that which the Christian heart desires?
Such is a life in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had come to give this life, and His prayer to the Father was that He would impart it to the believers. Jesus spoke of power when the Holy Spirit would come and fill them (Acts 1:8). We see how diligent the apostles were in transmitting this teaching to the Christian church at the time. Peter told his audience at Pentecost that this promise was for them and their children and for as many as the Lord God will call. How much is the Holy Spirit needed today to reside in His fullness in the heart of His people, that they may be witnesses to the world about the love, grace, and power of the gospel. To receive this life in the fullness of the Spirit, we need to consecrate our hearts to God, surrender all to Him, vacate the throne of our hearts, and give it over to the Holy Spirit. There are temporal and eternal benefits from the fullness of the Holy Spirit:
1. Abiding in Christ. There is security in Jesus and His care, for as a shepherd He watches out for the safety of His sheep. As a child of God we do not need to live in fear, for God will take care of His own.
2. Bearing more fruit. In John 15 Jesus explains the process of pruning the vine for more and better fruit bearing, and that is the purpose of the deeper spiritual life. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit not only fulfills God’s purpose, it also satisfies the desire of our heart to be useful.
3. Conforming to the teachings of Jesus. If we want to be a blessing to others and a light in the world, we need to conform our lifestyle to the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we live according to our views and concepts, the fruit we bear will not resemble the fruit of the Spirit. I would encourage everyone to seek that “more abundant life” that our Lord came to give. If He came to give it to us, then it is His desire that we possess a more abundant spiritual life.