A Wonderful Life
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:10
10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.
12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock.
13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,
15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me,
29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.
Made in 1946, It’s Wonderful Life, is one of the most beloved American films. It is an uplifting, heartwarming fantasy. It delightfully affirms cherished values of friendship, helping one another, gratitude, and personal achievement. It portrays common everyday difficulties and disappointments that its viewers can easily identify with.
George Bailey, played by James Stewart, was a dreamer, longing for world travel and adventure. Yet “life happened,” time and time again. His dreams are dashed. He finds himself beset with overwhelming personal problems and an impending scandal. He contemplates a Christmastime suicide. Looking at an icy river from the bridge, he cries out, “I wish I had never been born.”
The whole matter is resolved through the film in layered, exquisite nuances. An angel is dispatched, Clarence Oddbody, AS2 (angel second class). Clarence is seeking to “earn his wings” through a major life transformation and positive outcome for George.
In a way, Clarence grants his wish. Clarence explains, “You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.” The film then presents a faux, alternative life flashback. An imaginary, “What If” scenario is played out as if George had never been born. Possible outcomes in people’s lives close to George, to focus. He sees how things would’ve been different had he never been there. George realizes how many people he impacted and changed for the good.
Clarence states, “One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there it leaves an awfully big hole . . . You see George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to just throw it away?”
The Father fully intends for His sheep to have a wonderful life, an abundant life. The first of the Four Spiritual Laws is, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” (Cru).
John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall Not perish but have eternal life.”
John 10:10 gives us the reason that Jesus came, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus willingly gave His life to save ours (Stanley).
REFLECT & PRAY
The Father offers His children a wonderful life. It is not intended to be sad or dour, flat or miserable. The tedium and struggles of the fallen world are not removed.
17 The ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.
But, continual fellowship with the Father offers a rich and joyful life, overflowing in its midst, allowing His children to rise above it.
Father, thank you for giving me eternal life on the day that I met you. Thank you for the promise of an abundant and rewarding spiritual and emotional life. Encourage me to live that life.
The Lord Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd offered His sheep two extraordinary types of life. The first is eternal life. Eternal life by definition lasts forever. Eternal life is knowing the Father God personally and experientially. It is living with Him forever. It does not begin when we die. Rather it begins when we come to know Him in a personal way.
The second type of life which the Lord Jesus Christ offers is a wonderful or abundant life. His sheep will be safe, well cared for, well fed, and content. Basically all of their needs will be fulfilled.
The Greek word translated abundant, abundantly, satisfying, or full is perissos. Perissos has the sense of over and above, beyond measure, abundantly, more abundantly, abundantly above, exceeding, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon.
We might say in modern English, “supersized.” It is natural to focus on supersized material and physical things. Rather, the focus should be on spiritual and emotional dynamics. What would a spiritual walk with the Father look like if it were extraordinary and beyond measure? If the Father shaped and energized our emotions, what would peace, rest, hope, or confidence that were “over and above” look like?
The Lord Jesus Christ comes as our Good Shepherd. His shepherding is extraordinary, over and above the norm. The results are supersized.
In life, a real shepherd is born to his task. His sheep become his friends and his companions. It becomes second nature to think of them before he thought of himself.
But the hired shepherd come into the job not as a calling but as a means of making money. He is in it only for the monetary payoff. He was only a hireling.
Jesus’ point is that those who work only for reward think chiefly of the money; those who work for love think chiefly of the people they are trying to serve. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who so loved His sheep that for their safety He would risk, and one day give, His life (Barclay).
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Supersized rest is available to all of the Father’s sheep who are weary and burdened.