February 21, 2021
“Abundant life” is what Jesus promises compared to what other forces had to offer.
In the times of the early church, Christians in Rome worshiped in the catacombs. In some places, catacombs cover four levels, and spread across 90 acres. Built due to a ban on burials within the city, and to keep Christian bodies from being buried with pagans, the Christians used catacombs as a burial site. We no longer use catacombs for burials, but cemeteries instead.
Most people only go to cemeteries for funerals, or to visit the graveside of someone they care about. Cemeteries are often the most beautiful places in towns, because of the decorative headstones and monuments. Cemeteries cause us to contemplate and reflect on death and dying, but this week’s message is about life. Often, thinking about life requires us to think about the opposite.
When we refuse to think about death, we sometimes forget to think about life. Many people try to shield their children from funerals, and avoid the topic of death. This aversion to death can stop us from contemplating the deeper meaning of life. We often focus on what’s affecting me, or my life, and when we do that, life loses its meaning.
But is life really meaningless even though we all die? No. There is purpose and meaning to life. It’s not just about “waiting for heaven,” there’s more.
Jesus explains the Parable of the Good Shepherd:
Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.John 10:6-10 (NLT)
The “rich and satisfying life” that Jesus comes to proclaim isn’t just for the future, it is also for “now.” He doesn’t tell people to just sit and wait until they die. The gospel is about life.
Despite events and circumstances that make life seem dreary and sad, Jesus offers “a rich and satisfying life.” It’s current, not just something to hold on and wait for. God wants you to have a rich and fulfilling life. The NIV translates it as “an abundant life.” Most of the people who heard Jesus’ message didn’t have what we do in this day and age. Even though our life may seem full of despair, just imagine: the people Jesus spoke to didn’t have running water, cars, or the internet. They had it a lot harder than we do, but Jesus still offers them an abundant life.
What have we learned about ourselves as we think about death, and how it should make us appreciate life?
We encourage you to have hope and confidence in the things God has given you.