The captain raised his brow. “But, young man, you don’t understand! The cost of your ticket bought you both your room and dining privileges. You’ve gone hungry for no reason at all.”

Spiritual Perspective

In John 10:10, we read the often quoted words of Jesus:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Too often we look at this verse and concentrate only on the second half. We like having life “to the full” or, as the KJV version puts it: “more abundantly.”

But this verse comes in the middle of Jesus giving his “Good Shepherd” talk. Even though those who heard it were accustomed to the lifestyle of a shepherd and the dangers he shielded his flock from, they didn’t get the metaphor Jesus was trying to give them. They understood it was the shepherd’s work to bring the sheep out each morning, lead them along paths to fields of thick grasses for pasturing and streams of sparkling water for drinking. He led them to cool places to rest and then, at the end of the day, back “home” again where he stood watch over them. But they didn’t understand that Jesus was defining himself as the Shepherd and those who would follow him as his sheep.

And Then There is Always that Pesky “Thief”

The Greek word used in the original text for thief is: Kleptes. Using it as a root word, we get the words kleptomania and kleptomaniac. According to the NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon, kleptes means:

  1. an embezzler, pilferer
  2. the name is transferred to false teachers, who do not care to instruct men, but abuse their confidence for their own gain

Look again at number two. Though it would be easy to express thief simply as a “wolf,” Jesus was going for a clearer understanding of what he’d come to offer.

The teachers of the day were not fully leading their “flock” in the true ways of God. They talked a good talk when it came to religion, but little to nothing when it came to relationship. Jesus had referred to them as “wolves” in Matthew 7:15. Jesus, as a rabbi and as the Good Shepherd, wanted to show his followers—those who heard and recognized his voice—that which another shepherd had learned and had taught them through his writings a millennia before.

The Lord is my shepherd, David wrote in Psalm 23. I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

This is life abundant. It’s not perfect. It’s not free from danger or from those who would want to steal it from us. But it is a good life when we fully trust the Good Shepherd to lead us along those paths carved into the hill of life for us.