The Full-Life Jesus Wants You To Have…
“I [Jesus] came that they would have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
“I [Jesus] came that they would have real life, more and better life than they ever imagined” (John 10:10 The Message).
Wow. What a declaration by Jesus…what an OFFER!
John 10:10 is a small verse but contains jewels that can change our lives,
just like an engagement ring is a tiny (at least when pastors propose!) diamond inside a tiny box
but what it MEANS is life-changing (an invitation to become one flesh and to be united with your spouse for your entire earthly life!).
Let’s take a closer look at the carats contained in John 10:10:
1. Jesus came (to earth) to GIVE (that WE might HAVE), not to GET for Himself.
Most of the time when I go somewhere, I go to GET something:
-store for stuff
-school to learn
-restaurant for food
-movie theater for entertainment
-church for teaching, fellowship and to hear MY STYLE of worship music!
-home to be served (meals, clean/tidy, watch sports)
-library for books/movies
-friends’ house for fun
-gas station for gas
It’s crazy to think that the vast majority of times that I go ANYWHERE, I am going there to GET something for myself. Wow.
Furthermore, if I travel FAR to get somewhere–if it costs me a lot in time, energy, or money to get there–well I had better GET something REALLY GREAT, something EXTRA for my efforts!
If it is EXPENSIVE for me to get somewhere, well I had better get something amazing to make up for what it cost to get there.
But that is NOT the formula Jesus lived by when He chose to become human (while remaining fully God) and come to earth as a little baby growing up into a man–He came not to GET but to GIVE.
Let’s think about how FAR–how LOW–Jesus had to go to get to earth;
let’s look at what it cost Him to become fully human while remaining fully God:
–Philippians 2:1-11 (Jesus EMPTIED Himself–He GAVE)
-The Son of Man came not to be served (to GET) but to serve (to GIVE) and to GIVE HIS LIFE as a ransom for many (served others and eventually gave the ULTIMATE SACRIFICE–His own life)(Matthew 20:28)
-Jesus left the perfect majesty of heaven to come to earth and be ridiculed, disbelieved, mocked, spit on, beaten, falsely accused, whipped, and crucified (not to mention suffering physical ailments like hunger, thirst, tiredness, sore throats, hang nails, etc.)
2. So maybe, just MAYBE, the full life Jesus offers us in John 10:10 is about us GIVING, not us getting…
What if most of us miss out on the full life Jesus offers because we pay only lip-service to the Biblical Truths above?
What if we miss out on the spiritual nourishment God provides in His Word because we are nibbling at the vegetables (those parts of the Bible that are hard to swallow/digest)
and GORGING on the desserts (the stuff we want to hear in the Bible/the verses that are easy to accept)?
But the secret of these 14 words in John 10:10 is not just to go out and share stuff/things with others; a lot of people–including non-Christians!–GIVE money, time, energy, etc. No, the beauty of John 10:10 is not primarily in the giving (although the giving is important); the beauty of John 10:10 is in the GIVER Who will transform us (if we let Him!) from the inside out and teach us what–really, WHO–to give: to give Jesus to others (point them to Him) through our words and our deeds. Before we can GIVE anything of eternal value (where moth and rust DO NOT destroy–that is, heavenly treasures) we still need to RECEIVE Jesus as our Savior in order to begin GIVING others that which is eternal (as opposed to that which is temporary/earthly); a milk jug cannot pour out into glasses until it has been filled up itself. Jesus says that apart from Him we can DO (GIVE) nothing (John 15:5)–do we really believe Him here? Apart from Jesus our good deeds are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), our gifts to others are like moldy, stale bread; we need to be filled up with HIM (receiving Him as Savior) so that we can give HIM out to others through our words and actions.
-Without Jesus we would only give a cup of water to others (but they would thirst again);
Jesus offers us LIVING WATER so we’ll never thirst again
(how about passing THAT out to people!?)(let’s give BOTH to those who are thirsty, not just one or the other!);
-Without Jesus we can only give out some good deeds that will make people feel good for a little while, that will give temporary relief;
Jesus offers us eternal forgiveness that no one and no thing can ever steal away!
(how about passing THAT out in Jesus’ name to others!?)(let’s meet the earthly AND eternal needs of others–both!).
-Without Jesus we give that which is perishable, that which will eventually be destroyed (heaven AND earth will pass away, but Jesus’ words will last forever! Matthew 24:35);
But when we introduce people to Jesus through our words and actions we are offering them the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:44-46) that will never decay, never grow old, never get lost, never get stolen.
Giving…and specifically giving (offering) Jesus to others through
-proper (biblical) beliefs
-actions of genuine, consistent and sacrificial love…
THAT’S REAL LIFE, A FULL LIFE…meeting the earthly AND eternal needs of others…YES!
3. How do YOU define a great, real, or full life?
A. Money & stuff? “A person’s life does not consist in an abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).
B. Good looks? “Beauty is fleeting” (Proverbs 31:30).
C. Accomplishing stuff? “The world honors that which God despises” (Luke 16:15). We care about what someone ate for dinner and what they think about politics/religion because they can put a leather ball in a metal hoop? We stay updated on the details of certain people because they are good at pretending to be other people? Seriously? Wow. Sigh…
D. Rushes of adrenaline and the feeling of excitement? Like a drug those feelings wear away and you become addicted (enslaved) to pushing the envelope further to get another dose of that adrenaline. Meanwhile, in between those exciting events/activities, your regular/normal life seems boring and mundane–you are less and less able to appreciate and enjoy the small blessings in life (sunset, wind in your hair, quiet walk down the street, sun warming your face, etc.) because you NEED TO HAVE something unusual/never-experienced-before to happen to you. That doesn’t sound like a free life…that sounds like a trapped/imprisoned life.
But why do we even think we know what we want/need?
And why do we think we are powerful enough to find/get those things?
We all know what kind of a “good life” that 4 year old children would create for themselves if they were given total freedom/autonomy:
-ice cream/candy all day long
-constant t.v./video games/fun
-doing whatever they felt like doing (impulsiveness) at any given moment
Such a “good life” would eventually KILL children and before it killed them it would make them suffer greatly (even though they would be getting exactly what they want!).
Why–as 20, 40, 60, or 80 year olds– do we think we are any different than the four year olds in the illustration above? WE AREN’T! We are simply more sophisticated in what we define as “candy/ice cream,” we are simply more expensive in our tastes regarding what we define as “video games/t.v./fun,” we simply crave adult candy. THAT’S ALL!
Left to our own devices (i.e. without Jesus’ forgiveness and help), constructing our own version of “the good life” will eventually kill us and cause us to suffer in the process as well. The creator of a car knows best what fuel is needed in the tank; the LORD Who created us knows best what we need in our hearts, minds, and souls to survive AND to thrive, to have a FULL LIFE…and it is NOT more stuff or fame or clear complexion or six pack abs or designer clothes…IT’S HIM!
4. Here’s what JESUS offers–here are some of the characteristics of the full life as HE defines it (and He alone gets to define life because He is the CREATOR of life).
A. List of what Jesus offers us in Gospel of Matthew (please click HERE).
B. List of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians (what God desires us to be like–please click HERE).
WOW! I want all those things too…but the great thing is, JESUS wants me to have them as well! He OFFERS THEM to all of us!
C. How does Jesus define life? John 17:3–eternal life is KNOWING God the Father and KNOWING God the Son, the way a husband and wife know each other after 50 years of marriage! That is what heaven will be–an eternity spent knowing the eternal God more deeply, more thoroughly, more completely, more clearly. Jesus offers us Himself, but He doesn’t force–we (and others!) have a personal decision to make regarding whether or not to accept Jesus as Savior and whether or not to follow Him as Lord (King).
D. Let’s not think John 10:10 refers to MONEY–God wants to give us more than money–he wants to give us HIMSELF! (How much more will God give THE HOLY SPIRIT to those who ask Him [e.g. good gifts] Luke 11:13). God’s blessings refer to KNOWING HIM and BEING LIKE HIM (fruits of the Spirit in Galatians above). God wants to share with you many of His qualities!!! WOW! How much more amazing would life be if you were patient, kind, had self-control, etc.? MUCH MORE AMAZING! Any activity in life is more fun when you are good at it, when you do it well–this is even true of LIFE ITSELF!
As C.S. Lewis said so eloquently, ““It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
E. More characteristics of Jesus’ full life:
-to become fishers of HUMANS (telling others about Jesus’ love and grace!)
-forgiving and praying for and blessing those who hurt us
-sharing with those in deep spiritual and physical need (Jesus healed the sick AND told them about the Kingdom of God–BOTH! Luke 9:10-11)
-taking up our cross EVERYDAY and following Jesus
Jesus’ full life involves SUFFERING, so let’s please stop this nonsense that God wants to bless you with sports cars and mansions, that God wants everyday to be a Friday, that God wants you when you’re 70 to look like you’re 30: HE DOESN’T LOOK AT THE OUTSIDE but rather at the inside! (1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Timothy 2:8-10)…PLEASE! Look at the list in Hebrews of how God’s people/prophets SUFFERED (please click HERE)…THAT is what Jesus is inviting us into. THAT IS HOW ALL OF THE APOSTLES WERE TREATED! Why do we think God somehow wants something different (EASIER) for us?
But it is suffering with a purpose, for when we suffer for Jesus, when we are treated with evil and we return with love/forgiveness, that is when people see Jesus in us and can more clearly understand that He is real and that He offers them unconditional love and eternal forgiveness: when THE NIGHT IS BLACKEST is when stars shine the brightest.
Furthermore regarding suffering, if we are honest, aren’t we glad that God’s full life involves sacrifice, sweat, suffering? Not for salvation, mind you–I’m not talking about forgiveness of our sins…that is only a gift from God to be received by faith in Jesus. But I’m talking about discipleship, sanctification, growing more like Jesus: even though we are sore, thirsty and tired after a hard workout, don’t we also feel kind of, well…GREAT? Doesn’t it feel good at the end of an athletic contest to see your uniform ripped a bit, stained with grass, soaked with sweat and maybe with blood? It shows that we gave it everything we had! WE WERE ALIVE, TRULY ALIVE, in a way that the people merely sitting in the seats watching were not alive, were merely existing.
I love this quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: ““It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Do true mountain climbers wish there were a simple elevator/escalator to get them to the top? NO! NEVER! They want to get to the top, but they also love THE CLIMB with all it’s danger, work, effort, and planning. The same is true spiritually: becoming more like Jesus takes work, but it is GREAT work…it–HE–is worth it.
5. Difference between Jesus’ full life and the world’s half-life
1. Similar to an athlete who trains and engages in competition against opponents–there is sweat, soreness, injury, victory and defeat (at least in the earthly/temporary sense).
1. Similar to an “arm-chair” quarterback who never risks actually training and competing but chooses to safely sit on the couch shooting critiques/judgments against those actually playing.
2. Dangerous: like a turtle choosing to leave the shell. By receiving Jesus as our Savior and following Him as our King we will be exposed to great danger, not only by other humans but by spiritual forces as well…each moment of our earthly lives we will walk around with a giant target on our hearts, minds, and bodies. Leaving the shell is hard because we cannot control the environment outside of the shell the way we can “control” the environment in the shell…although once we leave the shell we realize over time that EVEN WE do not truly know what is best for us; God alone knows what we truly need..AND what we truly want…and both of those treasures are found in HIM–OUTSIDE of the shell.
2. Deceptively safe: like a turtle staying inside it’s shell (where it’s comfortable, where it’s familiar, where it’s just how we want it). We think that we have “the good life” by constructing around us a life that is exactly what we want, is exactly what makes us feel good/safe/fulfilled, etc.
3. True car freedom is in Jesus’ full life: He allows us to drive the open road cross country through all manner of terrain.
3. Half-life is like a sports car racing in circles…it doesn’t really go anywhere (though the tank is empty, the tires are bare, and the odometer is high at the end of the race)!
4. The freedom to obey Jesus–not because we HAVE to, but because we GET to! Sports are most fun when the athletes play by the rules–same is true with life. What’s more fun: to have “freedom” driving a car any way you want (into on-coming traffic, ignoring stoplights, any speed you want)? No, driving like that will eventually get you killed or at least get your driving privileges taken away from you. Wouldn’t you get more enjoyment–more FUN!–out of driving a car according to the rules, staying in your lane, obeying traffic lights, etc.? Absolutely. The same is true in the spiritual life.
4. Half life is a prison with diamond encrusted chains…we are trapped by our pursuit of pleasure/happiness/control and so we must stay clutchingly close to those things (money/power/popularity) from which we derive our identity. “Sin isn’t exciting and new…it’s actually monotonous/boring” (Mike Woodruff). Most songs at a nightclub are, well, the same–same message, same beats, same rhythms, same alcohol, same goals for the end of the evening.
So how do we get all this? How do we get this full life that Jesus offers?
1. Receive Jesus as Savior if you haven’t already (please see * below).
2. Grow closer to God by consistently reading the Bible (alone AND with others!) and putting it into practice in your daily life.
3. Make the courageous choice to go into the deep end of close friendship with other Christians–ask God to help us take off our masks with others so we can be sharpened, encouraged, prayed for, loved, built up, and comforted by other Christ-followers.
4. Decide that you will not settle for cruising to heaven on a couch but that you will dare to step dangerously into situations where Jesus leads you, situations that will require MORE than you can handle, that will require you to give until it hurts and then to keep on giving of yourself, your time, your energy, your skills, your prayers, your money, etc.
5. Don’t EVER GIVE UP (stay connected to the Vine–Jesus)
Jesus doesn’t offer DROPS of living water, He offers an OCEAN! (story: “when I heard You calling to me, even though I ignored You for so long, when I finally came to get what You offered I only brought a tiny cup…if I had known You better I would have brought a bucket!”). LIFE TO THE FULL!
The question remains: Will you accept this full life? Will you accept HIS definition of the great life? And will you accept Him Who offers it?
You are NEVER alone…You are ALWAYS loved… 🙂
If you want to receive Jesus as your Savior, please simply talk to Him and say something like this:
“Jesus, I believe that you are God and that you died on the cross and returned back to life to pay the penalty for my sins that I deserve.
By faith I receive You as my Savior–I humbly accept what You did on the cross as my only ticket to heaven, to forgiveness, to eternal life.
I thank You here with words–thank YOU!
Please now help me to thank You moving forward with my actions.