The Abundant Life

John 10:1-18 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”


If someone were to give you fifty million dollars, what would you spend it on? What are the first three things you’d buy? Would you save any of it and, if so, for what?

Let’s try a different angle. If you were given one year to do whatever you wanted, all expenses paid, what would you do (or not do)? Where would you go? What would you eat? Who would you take?

One more. If you were able to ensure any ten things for your grandchild, what would be on your list (looks, health, education, spouse, kids, character, religion, finances)?

In John 10:10, Jesus said that He came so that His people might “have life and have it abundantly.” The key questions, of course, are what did He mean by an abundant life and how do we get it? What exactly constitutes such a life and where does it come from? Your answers to each of the questions above go a long way toward giving your definition, but how does it compare to Jesus’ definition? This morning, we’re going to consider (1) what Jesus meant by an abundant life, (2) in order to help us compare it to our operating understanding, (3) in order to help us recalibrate our lives wherever we find a discrepancy, (4) in order to live the abundant life Jesus came to bring.

To those ends, we’ll consider what John says in our passage this morning about the abundant life, what he says about it in broader brush strokes throughout his entire Gospel, and in broadest brush strokes what the entire Bible says about the abundant life. In light of all of that, I’ll highlight a few things the abundant life isn’t. And then, finally, I’ll close with a few thoughts on how we get from wherever our lives are now to a more abundant life. Let’s pray that God would accomplish these things, through these means and more.


Once again, this sermon flows out of John 10:10 which records Jesus’ declaration, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” The word translated “abundantly” is an unusual word in the NT. It’s the same word as in 2 Corinthians 1:5, “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

And it’s the same root as we find in Ephesians 3:20, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, and 2 Corinthians 2:4.

Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…

2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.”

2 Corinthians 2:4 “For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.”

In simplest terms, in this sense, “abundant” means “over and above, excessive, overflowing, superfluous, abounding”. Jesus came to give us life that is “over and above,” “excessive,” and “superfluous” (beyond the minimum requirements, more than sufficient) compared to any and all life apart from Him. He came to give us life that is “overflowing” and “abounding” compared to ordinary life.

So, what exactly does that life consist of? Let’s begin to answer that question by looking at John 10:1-18.

According to John 10:1-18

In our passage for this morning, Jesus said a number of things about the abundant life He came to bring. It’s important to notice that the things He says are fairly neatly divided between describing the path to abundant life and the nature of the abundant life. As I work through them, along with the rest of what the Bible says about the abundant life, I encourage you to do three things. First, consider carefully whether they refer to the path of abundance or the nature of abundance (or both!). Second, ask God to help you see how what the Bible does say compares to your answers to the questions I asked earlier. And third, knowing you’ll never be able to get your head around all that I’m about to share, I suggest that you focus on jotting down one or two things that really stand out and determine to drill down on them at some point this week. With that…

  1. The abundant life involves hearing Jesus’ voice as the voice of God (3-4, 16). In His initial parable, Jesus said of a good shepherd (He is the Good Shepherd), “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 … and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”

    The abundant life Jesus came to bring begins when Jesus calls and we hear His voice for what it is, the voice of the very Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. Jesus alone is wise enough to know what the abundant life is, He alone has the authority to declare it to the world, and His voice alone is powerful enough to call mankind to it. For these reasons, to live abundantly, we must hear Jesus voice, receive it as true and good and beautiful, exceedingly far above all other voices. We must believe Him in all He says, love it for what it is, and live in light of it in all we do.
  2. The abundant life involves following Jesus (3-4). Again, of a good shepherd, Jesus said, “…he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 … he goes before them, and the sheep follow him…”

    Jesus alone, among men, has perfectly experienced the abundant life. The abundant life, therefore, means living as Jesus lived. Doing what He did, feeling what He feels, believing what He believes, loving what He loves, hating what He hates, going where He went, pursuing the kinds of people and things He pursues, saying the kinds of things He’s said; it means following Him.

    Peter (who was likely with Jesus as He spoke the words of John 10) said it this way (1 Peter 2:21-23), “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.”
  3. The abundant life means being reconciled to God through Jesus (7, 9, 11, 15, 17). That’s part of what it means that Jesus is the door.

    9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved…

    He said basically the same thing in 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

    At the heart of Christianity, and at the heart of why Jesus came to earth as a man, is the reality that all mankind in and since Adam, has fallen into sin and the death it warrants. In this way we are born separated from fellowship and at enmity with God. We need to be saved. We need to pass from death to life. Jesus alone is the door/the way by which we can do so. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone can we be saved into fullness of life.
  4. The abundant life means being protected by Jesus (7, 9, 11, 15, 17). Once we have entered into the Father’s pleasure by the Only Door (that is through faith in Jesus), we are welcomed into the kind of abundant life that will never know ultimate harm. Once Jesus calls us into His protection, no power of hell and no scheme of man can ever pluck us from His hand.

    The key for us to understand according to John’s Gospel, is that both Jesus’ reconciling and protecting work are tied to the fact that He laid His life down for us. He offered His life for ours, to die sin’s death and to keep us from final harm.

    11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

    What’s more, Jesus laid His life down in order that He could “17 …take it up again.” That is, Jesus willingly laid down His life for us and then rose from the dead that we might be united with Him in everlasting abundant life.
  5. The abundant life includes provision for every need (9). The abundant life comes from hearing Jesus’ voice, responding to it in faith that we might be reconciled to God, living continually in Jesus’ perfect protection, and according to the second half of v.9, with perfect provision. Jesus came to bring a life of abundant pasture, nourishment, provision for all who go out by Him.

    9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

    No ultimate harm will ever befall you in Jesus and no ultimate need will ever go unmet in Jesus. Just as you never again need to worry about being devoured with Jesus as the door, neither do you need to worry anymore about being starved.

    Matthew 6:25-26 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
  6. The abundant life includes hardship (10, 12-13). And yet, even the most basic reading of this passage, John’s Gospel, and any of the rest of the Bible makes clear that the kind of salvation, protection, and provision Jesus brings to His people, does not free us from all hardship in this life. For now, living abundantly is not the same as living comfortably.

    There are still thieves and robbers and they are still seeking to do us harm. Jesus’ promise is not that they will never succeed, only that if they do on any level, it will be to your greater abundance (Acts 5:41; James 1:2) and their destruction.
  7. The abundant life means knowing and being known by Jesus (14-15). To know Jesus’ teaching, to be forgiven of our sin, to be kept from ultimate harm, and even to have unending provision combined, still falls short of a truly abundant life. To have all those things, but not have fellowship with Jesus is not abundant abundance. But Jesus accomplished all of those things and fellowship with Him through His death and resurrection. We can truly know Jesus and be known by Him.

    14 I know my own and my own know me…,

    What’s more, and what’s truly staggering, is not just that we know and are known by Jesus, but the manner in which we know one another. It is in the same way (though not to the same extent, since we are finite) as Jesus and the Father know one another.

    15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father

    This is not the place to really unpack this magnificent truth, but if it (to know and be known by Jesus, as He and the Father know one another) didn’t make any of your lists at the beginning, it’s only because you don’t really grasp what this means. As I’ll get to a bit more a bit later, there is no greater thing.
  8. The abundant life means being united with people from every tribe, tongue, and people group in fellowship with Jesus (16). Finally, from this passage, we see that the abundant life is not for any single person, clan, or nation. It is for all who will listen to Jesus’ voice.

    16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

    Jesus will bring in sheep from every corner of the world to know fullness of life in Him.

By themselves, these eight aspects of the abundant life are truly staggering. But there’s more still.

According to John’s Gospel

Having considered the abundant life in just our passage, let’s now consider it in the rest of John’s Gospel. I’m about to walk you through all 21 chapters of John, noting every major description of the abundant life. Again, there’s no way you are going to be able to lock in on all (34) of them. Pick a couple to focus on.

As we have seen…

Abundant life in Jesus is to walk in the light, which overcomes all darkness (1:4-5, 9; 8:12). It is to know true and ultimate victory against everything that would set itself up against God.

The abundant life in Jesus is to be adopted as God’s own sons and daughters (1:12-13).

The abundant life is to see Jesus, full of glory, grace, and truth (1:14, 16-17).

To live the abundant life of Jesus is to live under the perfect reign of King Jesus (1:49), within the kingdom of Jesus (3:5; 18:36).

Living the abundant life is to have Jesus entrust Himself to us (2:24).

Living the abundant life means being born again (3:3). In this way, living the abundant life means being born of both the flesh and the Spirit (3:6).

The abundant life that Jesus came to bring includes living in the everlasting love of the heavenly Father (3:16-17; 16:27; 17:26) and Son (13:1; 15:10).

To live the abundant life in Jesus is to know no condemnation or judgment, ever (3:18; 5:24)!

Living in true abundance means receiving the Holy Spirit of God without measure (3:35; 7:39; 14:17).

The abundant life includes drinking from streams of living water, which quench our thirst permanently (4:10, 13).

The abundant life means worshiping God in spirit and truth (4:24).

Living the abundant life in Jesus means joyfully proclaiming the good news of Jesus to the world (4:36-38; 20:21).

Living the abundant life in Jesus means eating and being satisfied forever (6:12, 27, 35, 54-55).

Those who live the abundant life will never be cast out (6:37).

The abundant life is one which abides in Jesus’ word, knows the truth, and has been set free (8:31-32, 36).

The abundant life is one that has moved from blindness to sight (9:39).

And in addition to all of that, we will soon see…

Living the abundant life Jesus came to bring means that we shall never truly die (11:26).

Living the abundant life means hating our lives in this world (12:25) and having the world hate us (15:18).

Living abundantly means being honored by the Father (12:26).

Those who live in the abundance Jesus promised are “sons of light” (12:36).

The abundant life includes being a foot-washer, a servant to all (13:14-16).

The abundant life is a life filled with love for God (14:21; 15:12) and the people of God (13:34-35; 15:12).

The abundant life has a room prepared in the Father’s house (14:2).

Living abundantly means keeping Jesus’ commandments (14:15).

The abundant life is to be in Jesus and Jesus in us (14:20; 15:4-5; 17:23).

The abundant life is a life of peace (14:27; 20:19) and full joy (15:11).

The abundant life is a life that bears abundant fruit of godliness (15:5).

Living the abundant life means asking whatever we wish from the Father, in Jesus’ name and having it be done for us (15:7; 15:16; 16:23).

The abundant life is a life of friendship with Jesus (15:15).

To live the abundant life is to be chosen by Jesus (15:16).

The abundant life is a life of conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment (16:8).

Living abundantly is living in unity with the saints (17:11, 20, 22).

The abundant life Jesus came to bring is a life sanctified in truth (17:17).

Living abundantly is to be sent into the world to proclaim the good news (17:18).

What a list! Even in looking quickly through one book in the Bible, we can clearly see how awesome Jesus’ words in John 10:10 truly are. But Grace, as you know, we don’t have only one book of the Bible. The entire Bible is filled with further descriptions of this good news of abundant life.

According to the Whole Bible

We would all do well to give ourselves to reading it through that lens. What, according to God’s Word, constitutes a full and successful life? In broadest brush strokes, God’s Word as a whole says…

  1. God made us to live abundant lives—full lives of perfect harmony, peace, provision, efficiency, order, and satisfaction, in fellowship with God and mankind. Abundant lives were what God created us to have.
  2. Sin, however, brought corruption and death into the world and made fullness of life impossible for mankind. We were not made to live in the kind of pain, inefficiency, loneliness, hardship, and death that we do.
  3. Nevertheless, because of God’s love for the world and His passion for His glory, God promised to restore mankind to fullness of life and He gave continual and glimpses of what it would look like. God promised to do so through an offspring of Eve and then expanded on that promise for millennia. And God gave glimpses of the fullness of life through Noah, Moses, Abraham, the prophets, and with even greater clarity in Israel’s unparalleled prosperity under David and Solomon, in temple life, abundance, and unity among God’s people.
  4. And then, when God sent His Son, Jesus, we were show true abundance of life. In Him, all the promises of God were all found to be Yes! As we’ve seen, He is the way, the truth, and the life. He gave His life as a ransom for sinners, for all who would receive Him in faith, that we might be united with Him in His resurrection and life.
  5. What’s more, when Jesus ascended to the Father, abundance of life came in even greater measure through the indwelling Spirit for all who believe in Jesus.
  6. And yet, God’s Word teaches that there is still a not-yetness to full and complete abundance of life. It is promised and certain. In Jesus, we are on its path. For now, though, the abundant life we live is real and true, though incomplete.
  7. The fullness of the abundant life is what we will experience in the new heavens and earth, when death is finally dead, and all the effects of sin have been erased forever. The fullness of the abundant life will only finally be ours when Jesus returns and we are able to have perfect, uninterrupted fellowship with God, face to face, as one man does with another.

When we put all of this together (John 10, John’s Gospel, and the whole Bible), we’re able to see that the path to fullness of life is coming to God in repentance and belief, through Jesus, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. It is living with God’s help, according to God’s design, commands, and promises, no matter the consequences. And while walking this path will be marked by varying stages and degrees of prosperity and persecution on earth, and while fullness of abundance won’t be ours until the new heavens and earth, walking this path is truly one filled with joy found nowhere else. The path to fullness of life is full of life!

And here’s the other key, Grace: Jesus is the way and the fulfillment of the abundant life. He is the path and the goal. He is the means and the object. We must come through Him and He is the end of it all. He is the way to fullness of life, and fellowship with Him is fullness of life. If we leave out either component, we cannot know true abundance. If we try to come by some other way or find it in some other object, we will remain lost.


If all of that is what Jesus meant by an abundant life, that also helps us to see what it isn’t. Three things…

First, it isn’t up to us to decide. The abundant life is not whatever we (or anyone else) might make it out to be or want it to be. We do not create it or control it. It is not living consistently with our true selves. It is not subjective or individually defined. It isn’t what society determines, no matter how vehemently it believes otherwise.

Second, likewise, it isn’t anything we can attain on our own. We cannot live as we are made to live, in the fullness of life we were made to experience, by any power we possess. It will be given to us by God or we will not have it. No amount of increased technology or prosperity or knowledge can bring about true abundance of life.

And third, it is not finally found in anything under the sun. The abundant life isn’t anything this world has to offer. It is not found in any created thing, combination of created things, or quantity of created things.

World history is largely the story of mankind falling into these errors and therein knowing only (whether immediate or eventual) futility and disappointment. Biblical history is largely the story of God allowing His rebellious people to try on various combinations of these errors, that we might finally learn their impotence and turn to Him.

By God’s grace, may we learn both from what God’s Word says about what the abundant life is and where it comes from, and what it says it isn’t and where it can’t be found.


Finally, then, having considered what the abundant life is and isn’t, the last question is how we get it. How do we get from where we are to the life of abundance Jesus spoke of in v.10?

  1. Come to Jesus. There is no other door. There is no other satisfying food or drink. There is no other Good Shepherd. There is no other way. Life and fullness of life comes only by turning to Jesus in faith.
  2. Forsake all other paths. The abundant life doesn’t merely begin with Jesus, it continues only in Jesus. It cannot be found in Jesus plus anything else. Grace, with God’s help, determine to fix your eyes entirely and exclusively on Jesus.
  3. Give yourself to God’s Word. The path to and nature of the abundant life are uniquely recorded in the Bible. Therefore, living an abundant life means being people of the Book. It means being people who read and study and memorize it. It means being people who continually seek to understand, delight in, and obey it.
  4. Ask God for it. Ultimately, life, abundant life, and knowledge of and desire for it are gifts God alone can give. As you find promises and descriptions of abundance of life in God’s Word and hear them discussed among God’s people, give yourself to persistent prayer for them.
  5. Finally, go for it. Walking the path of abundant life is and always has been a mysterious combination of God graciously empowering us to do it our earnest striving for it. If God doesn’t work, we cannot know life. But God’s work in us always leads us to work. Therefore, Grace Church, walk the path given to you by Jesus. Find Jesus’ commands and obey them. Find Jesus’ promises and believe them. Find Jesus’ examples and follow them. Find Jesus’ people and join them. Find Jesus’ lost sheep and call them. And find Jesus and love Him.

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.