************ Sermon on John 10:10 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on December 6, 2020

John 10:7-10
John 10:10
"Jesus Came that We May Have Life to the Full"

I Life to the Full
A "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10b). That's what our text says about Christmas. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10b). Jesus came at Christmas so we have life to the full. Not life that is half-full. Not life that is nearly full. Jesus came so we have life to the full.

What is life to the full? Go back to John 6 and the feeding of the five thousand. The crowd thought life to the full is food in the belly, clothing on the back, and shelter over the head. Life to the full means your needs are being met.

How do you define life to the full? Ruth and I attended the church campout with the grandkids. The weather was wonderful. The food was great. The fellowship was wonderful. The camp-fires and conversations were great. We were able to go for walks. The kiddos had so much fun. Many people would say, "That's life. That's life to the full."

What is life to the full? Is life to the full a Caribbean vacation, or a ski trip to Colorado, or winter in Palm Springs? Is life to the full sitting in front of a crackling fire with a loved one and a glass of wine by your side? Is life to the full having lots of toys: boats, ATVs, cars, bikes, computers, RVs, the latest electronic gadget in your home? Is life to the full having a boyfriend or girlfriend, getting married, having children? Is life to the full being a volleyball or football star, and pulling straight "A"s in school?

Satan wants us to believe we need all this to experience life to the full. He tempts us to think we don't really live until we have our vacations and recreation and toys. According to Satan, life to the full involves an absence of pain and deprivation. Life to the full involves the fulfillment of wants and desires. Life to the full means bread in the stomach, clothing on the back, and a roof over the head.

Is this why Jesus came? To fill the bellies of the Israelites? To give us our toys and gadgets and vacations? I think we all know better than to say this. No, He came to give us life to the full. Which is more than food, clothing, and shelter.

B "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10b). Again I ask, what is life to the full? Let me describe it using the language of the Catechism:
-Our sins have been paid for and removed from God's sight.
-We have been set free from the tyranny of the devil.
-We are set free from eternal condemnation and the judgment of God.
-We are granted God's grace, righteousness, and eternal life.
-We are wholeheartedly willing and ready to live for the Lord.
-We are grafted into Christ and accept all His blessings.
-We are forever right with God.
-Nothing can separate us from God's love.
-Christ pleads our cause with the Father.
-Christ guards us and keeps us safe.
-We are anointed with the Spirit of Christ.
-Our old selves are crucified with Christ and our new man lives.
-We are members of the church and experience communion with God and with other believers.
This is life to the full right now.

And there is more to come. For the future, life to the full means:
-A perfect blessedness which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has ever imagined.
-A blessedness in which to praise God eternally.
-Our bodies will be raised from the grave and made like Christ's glorious body.

C "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (Jn 10:10b). How do we get this life, this life to the full?

If we turn again to John 6, we see Jesus identifies Himself as the bread of life (Jn 6:35), the true bread from heaven (Jn 6:32), and the living bread (Jn 6:51). Telling us what? Telling us that just as bread is an essential element in physical life, so Jesus is the essential element of spiritual life. Without Him, no one can live, really live. Only by feeding on Him do we have life to the full. We don't come to Him because He feeds our bellies but because He feeds and nourishes our souls. Jesus came at Christmas so we feed on Him and have life to the full. Life to the full is life in Jesus.

But we can say more when we look at the temptation of Jesus. Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days: forty days of fasting; forty days with nothing to eat. His body burned all its fat. He was hungry enough to eat almost anything. Along came Satan and tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread so He could live.

In His answer to Satan Jesus tells us how we get life, real life, life to the full: "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Mt 4:4).

During the forty years in the wilderness God kept teaching this lesson to Israel. Six days a week God gave them "manna" to eat. Did you know the word "manna" is not a name; it is a question. It is the question, "What is that?" And every morning the people had to answer their own question: "This is food provided by the Word of God." Moreover, during those forty years the people's clothes and sandals did not wear out (Deut 8:3,4). God was teaching them every day that He takes care of His people simply by the Word of His mouth. Ordinarily, we need the baker and the seamstress, the grocery store and the clothing store and the shoe store. But God is not dependent on them. He is God. All He has to do is speak, and the rain falls or the sun shines. All He had to do was speak, and all of creation sprang into being. All He had to do was speak and the widow's jar of oil and flour did not run out. "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" Mt 4:4).

Yet Israel never learned this lesson.

In His temptation Jesus followed the same course as did Israel. He spent forty days in the desert. And the tempter suggested that He rely on Himself rather than on the Word of God, that He take matters into His own hand rather than wait on the Lord, that He turn stones into bread.

Jesus' point is this: we don't have life when we have bread; we don't have life when we have food in our stomachs, clothing on our backs and a roof over our heads. Rather, we have life when we listen to what comes out of the mouth of God. That is what brings life to the full.

Now, remember, Jesus is the Word become flesh (Jn 1:14). Meaning what? Meaning life, real life, life to the full listens to Jesus.

II I Am the Gate
A On this second Sunday of Advent what do we hear Jesus saying? He says, "I am the gate." This is what we need to hear and believe in order to have life to the full. And, if we don't hear this, if we don't listen to this, if we don't believe this, we don't have life to the full.

"I am the gate." Growing up on a farm, I learned at a very early age that gates are important.
I remember the time we opened the gate to come into the barnyard with a wagon of hay. Before the gate could be shut, the heifers, the cows, and the horse all escaped into the neighbor's wheat field. It took us a couple of hours to round them up and get them back into the barnyard. And, the neighbor was unhappy that his grain was trampled.

At the time of Jesus gates were as important as they are to us today. A shepherd without good gates was flirting with danger and asking for trouble; he was endangering the life of his sheep; he was tampering with the very livelihood of his family and village.

"I am the gate." Now this, as John tells us, is a "figure of speech," (vs 6) which means it is a symbolic saying requiring interpretation. Here is another reminder that the words of Jesus are mysterious; that is to say, they cannot be understood unless the meaning has been revealed by the Spirit of God; they cannot be understood by those who do not possess divine wisdom or do not have faith in Jesus.

"I am the gate." This is one of the seven "I AM" statements of Jesus. By these statements Jesus claims divinity, He claims to be God's equal, He claims to be part of the eternal Godhead.

B "I am the gate." Jesus is using a word picture. He wants us to imagine a sheep pen and its gate. Most days in ancient Israel, shepherds led their sheep to graze in the nation's pastures and drink from its streams. At night, however, the shepherds took their sheep to the sheepfold. It consisted of four walls topped with briars to protect the sheep from thieves and wild animals. The only way in or out was through an opening in the wall. Not every sheepfold had a gate in the opening. Do you know what the watchman would do if there was no gate? When all the sheep were inside he would lie down in the opening. In a very real way the watchman was the gate -- sheep and wolves had to go in and out over him.

C "I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved" (vs 9). Jesus is the gate of salvation, the door to heaven. Jesus is the ladder connecting heaven and earth (Jn 1:51). Looking forward to Jesus, the psalmist could speak of this gate of salvation:
(Ps 118:20-21) This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter. (21) I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.

Jesus is the gate to heaven. In fact, He is the only gate. He is not "a" gate -- one of many. Rather, He is "the" gate. Anyone who wants to be saved, must be saved by or through Him. I think here of what Jesus said to His disciples,
(Jn 14:6) "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."
You either enter heaven by Jesus or you stay outside. You cannot demand another gate and it is no use looking for another gate.

People, today, want to believe that all paths, all faiths, all religions, lead to God and heaven and eternal life. They want to believe there is more than one gate to God's sheepfold. They actually want to believe one can be saved without putting trust in Jesus alone.

Jesus is the only gate of salvation. Only Jesus can save the guilty sinner. There is no other way. There is no other gate. There is no other salvation.

Jesus is the gate to heaven and eternal life. And, it is up to Him to open or shut that gate. I think here of what Jesus commanded the Apostle John to write:
(Rev 3:7) To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

Jesus is the gate, the only gate, to life -- life to the full. We don't get life to the full by using alcohol or drugs. Life to the full doesn't come by meditation and New Age chants. Life to the full doesn't come by working and worrying. Life to the full doesn't come by exercise. Life to the full doesn't come by religious activities. It only comes by Jesus. That's the message of Christmas. That's why Jesus came.

Jesus talks of thieves and robbers who come only to steal and kill and destroy (cf Jn 10:8,10). If a thief came at night he had to climb the wall, slit the throat of the sheep, and throw it over the wall.

They are the opposite of Jesus. "I am the gate ... I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
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