Christ Came To Give Life!
John 10: 7-15
What if Christmas had happened in modern times?
What if some of the technological capabilities of our time had been available that night?
Can you just imagine this?
CNN is on the scene filing a report hours after the hallowed moment of birth.
CNN correspondent reports from Israel:
"Just inside this cave behind this inn, a young woman and her husband have just welcomed into the world their first child.
It's a boy!
The father is Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth.
The baby's mother is Mary, also from Nazareth.
Both mother and son are doing well.
He goes on to ask: ' So, why am I telling you this?'
I am telling you this because there are aspects of this birth that set it apart from the ordinary.
One unusual occurrence with this birth has been the sudden appearance of nearby shepherds who came to pay
their respects to the newborn.
The shepherds said something about an angel's message, but how they knew about it is a mystery we have yet to unravel.
When I interviewed the parents, Mary confided that she had been told months ago that she would have a son
and that He would be the Saviour of the world.
Attempts to get more details concerning a divine destiny have failed.
Like any new mother, I suppose Mary just wants to savor the beauty of the moment.
She appears embarrassed by all this attention.
So, another child is born, a common event with uncommon trappings.
This might prove to be a benchmark in history.
Or it might fade into oblivion like the births of all the other babies born this night.
Will this new Jewish baby grow up to be more than a mere man, or will His life blend into the sea of humanity?
Only time will tell.
This is your reporter... reporting from Bethlehem."
Time indeed has told the outcome of that common-yet-uncommon birth.
What became of that peasant child is a matter of record.
Not only do we know what happened to Jesus, a man born in Bethlehem among cattle to lowly parents,
but we also know what God was up to that very night.
Jesus was constantly explaining Himself... to the disciples, to the multitudes, and especially to the Pharisees.
Because Jesus didn't always conform to their expectations, they made it their business to monitor His movements.
On one of those occasions when the Pharisees had questioned something Jesus had done,
He gave this statement: "I came that they might have life and have it abundantly."
When one considers the context, it becomes obvious that Jesus wanted to distance Himself from those
who masqueraded as shepherds of the flock.
Jesus exposed them as the thieves and charlatans they were.
At the same time, He pointed to Himself as the true Shepherd who cares for the sheep even more than He cares for Himself.
He said, "They are false. I am true. They are fake. I am authentic."
Who are these thieves?
In the immediate situation of John 10, they were probably those leaders among the Jews who used
their political connections with the Herods and Rome for their own profit and security.
For many years the people had suffered under many such tyrants.
To them, the common folk were a flock of sheep valued as so much flesh and fleece.
Jesus may have had in mind the insurrectionists, rebel leaders, and self-proclaimed messiahs
who became as oppressive as the oppressors they would overthrow.
They didn't care for the people.
Their rebellious ways often brought death and destruction to the masses.
So, Jesus said, "I am not like these. I have come to bring life."
What was God up to at Christmas?
He came to give life!
What appeared to almost everyone as an insignificant event in a shepherd's village turned out to be the beginning of abundant life.
It is not difficult to see that Jesus is for us and that many who would have us believe that they are for us,
are in fact, out for themselves.
But this is not all Jesus meant by abundant life.
How does Jesus bring life?
A special relationship exists between a shepherd and his sheep.
Part of the answer is there, and the more we know about that pastoral relationship, the better we can understand
what Jesus said about Himself.
For example, He said, "I am the door of the sheep." (John 10:7)
Sounds peculiar, doesn't it?
It stretches the imagination to think of a person acting as a door.
But that's just what a shepherd does -- particularly one who is devoted to his sheep.
As George Adam Smith was traveling in the Middle East and came across a shepherd at his sheepfold.
He asked the shepherd, "Is that where they go at night?"
"Yes," said the shepherd, "And when they are in there, they are perfectly safe."
"But there is no door," said Smith.
"I am the door," replied the shepherd.
Sir George looked at him and asked, "What do you mean by the door?"
The shepherd answered, "When the light is gone, and all the sheep are inside, I lie in that open space.
No sheep ever goes out unless he goes across my body, and no wolf comes in unless he crosses my body
-- I am the door!"
When Jesus said that He is the door of the sheep, He meant that the fold has only one entrance.
Abundant life has only one source.
Spiritual nourishment is obtained only one way.
Heaven can be entered in only one way.
The one way is Jesus!