Jesus is the good shepherd who came to give us life, and to give it to us in abundance. Life is precious. Of course, you wouldn’t know that by listening to modern political theory that encourages abortion and teaches that life is to be seen through a utilitarian lens, or by watching the majority of television shows where violent death is seen as a form of entertainment, and certainly not by playing one of the many video games kids now entertain themselves with. Such things only cheapen the value of life. But the reality is that those things exist because sin exists. The Bible says that the wages of sin is death. In the presence of life sin is like a corrosive acid that eats away at the value of life, producing only death.
But one of the awesome truths of our existence is that we were created to live forever with God. We were created immortal, if you will. However, because of sin our lives were stripped from us; and what we experience as life, outside of God, is but a shadow of what we were created to experience. Sin is the reality that severs us from God’s life giving power.
In the world we can find things to entertain us. We can even find a certain amount of satisfaction in the many comforts of life. But, as with all things in the world, the satisfaction we can experience is short lived. There comes a time when the value of those things wears off, and we begin to experience a sense of loss.
The reason we have that experience is because we were not created to be fulfilled by the world or the things in it. We were created to be in fellowship with God – to be in union with Him. Our fulfillment comes from Him. The truth is that we are incomplete without Him. The Bible says that God has put eternity into our hearts, but we cannot know the beginning from the end (Eccles 3:11). This means that when God created us, He designed us to be complete only when we are in union with Him. When we are not in union with Him, we are by definition incomplete, and thus unsatisfied with life.
As a crude illustration think of a simple lamp. The lamp is incomplete without a light bulb. It may look nice, and it may provide an aesthetic element to a room, but when the darkness comes it is useless. It cannot provide the needed light. We can wander around the world. We can achieve certain successes and enjoy many of the things the world can provide. But without God we are simply incomplete. And when it comes to experiencing true fulfillment in life, like the lamp without the bulb, there is nothing there. We are just taking up space.
The world runs to and fro, but it has never been able to satiate the true hunger that grows from deep within its soul. And the more the world seeks satisfaction a part from God, the deeper it drinks the acidic corruption of death.
Enter Jesus Christ, the good Shepherd. He invades our life with the very thing we long for. The Bible tells us that while we were dead in our trespasses and sins Jesus came to die for us. In His death He was able to bring to completion what is already at work in our lives outside of God – death. He died our death on our behalf. And in so doing He made an end to it for us.
Instead of having to experience the slow grinding decay of death that leads our souls to waist away, He simply ended the process by taking it upon Himself on the cross. The wages of sin is death, but when He died, He ended death for all who will come to Him for life; so the Bible says that “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And in ending death He joined our souls with the Spirit of the eternal God. He removed the barrier and He ended the separation. And so when He prayed to the Father He said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ who You have sent” (John 17:3).
When a soul is awakened to its emptiness without God, and as a result cries out to Christ for life, He joyfully comes and reunites the soul with God’s. Jesus ends the decay of death that the soul is captivated to, and replaces it with the satisfying, soul feeding life of God. The moment that happens the soul is reborn. God’s life fills the eternity in our hearts and we become what we were created to be. At that moment, and forevermore, we are complete; and the soul begins to experience the fulfillment and a deep satisfaction it has always hungered for.
Thus the psalmist declares, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul” (Ps 66:16).
This is the life Jesus came to bring. As our Good Shepherd, He came to end the decay of death that comes through sin, and replace it with the abundant life by reuniting us with the Father.