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

Jesus declared this statement. In context, he made it to contrast his concern for people with concerns of those who exploited people. The basic contrasts declared two realities. (1) Jesus unselfishly focused on the benefits of people while others focused selfishly on personal benefits. (2) He gave life while others deserted in the moments of crisis and brought death.

His purposes never exploited people. His purposes brought and gave life freely. Ultimately, his death would bring life to people.

Today’s Christians often miss the central point. Most of us are unfamiliar with the relationship between first century sheep and their shepherd. It was founded on total dependence and absolute trustworthiness. Only when sheep had a trustworthy shepherd would the relationship work.

Sheep were totally dependent. Without a shepherd, they could not find food. In fact, they would over-graze an area and literally destroy their food source. A good shepherd had to be wise enough not to allow over-grazing.

Without a shepherd, sheep seldom found water in arid places. A good shepherd led them to water. Thirsty sheep in arid places seldom could find water on their own.

Good shepherds defended sheep. A flock was defenseless without their shepherd. The only thing they knew to do in crisis was panic! In their panic, sheep endangered themselves—rather than hurting their enemy, they in their panic hurt themselves.

A shepherd made it possible for sheep to have life! An excellent, accomplished shepherd provided a good life for his sheep.

We were made to live. We exist because the Source of Life, God, gave us existence. By design we were made to live. Life, not death, fulfills our purpose. It is impossible to diminish life and not diminish us!

Though we do not like to admit it, we are dependent creatures. While we value life, we do not know the focus of life. We do not understand what we are about. Left to ourselves, we are prone to selfishness. We do a poor job of considering future consequences to life. We are so “pleasure” prone and so “lifestyle” conscious we are vulnerable to “now thinking” as if everything in the future will continue as it exists in this moment. We do a horrible job of leading ourselves, focus ourselves, or directing ourselves. We are far, far more likely to make “self-destruct” choices than wise and insightful choices.

We need someone to guide us who unselfishly has our best-interest as his priority. We need someone to teach us what life is about. We need someone to show us how to live. We need a good shepherd, Jesus Christ. He provides life when death surrounds us.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 23 June 2005

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