The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
This verse of Scripture is frequently cited by televangelists and popular preachers to support their view that a Christian should be living a life of prosperity and bountiful blessings from God...including health and material wealth.
But is Jesus merely referring to an abundant life full of material blessings?
In order to understand this particular verse, we must understand the context.
In the chapter preceding John 10:10 , Jesus, speaking to the same people, tells of the false shepherds (the Pharisees and prior spiritual leaders of Israel) who maligned and misused God’s word and thus were unable to see Jesus as the true Messiah (John 9:39-41).
In chapter 10, Jesus is using a theme of the sheep and shepherd. Though many thieves and robbers come to kill, steal, and destroy the sheep (John 10:1, 10), Christ came to give life and keep the sheep from destruction. This is why Jesus declares Himself to be the “Good Shepherd” who lays down his life for the sake of the sheep (John 10:11). And only through Him, will the sheep find pasture (John 10:7, 9). While other false teachers come with selfish intentions (Ezekiel 34:2-4) and could care less about God’s people, Christ gave His life for His sheep as a substitutionary atonement for sinners on the cross.
Nowhere in this context does this verse speak of an extended physical life or a life full of material blessings. The abundant life comes when Christ saves us, protects us, feeds us with His word and ultimately leads us into our full salvation. Christ did not lay His life down to simply give us our best life now…the price He paid was to give us something much more valuable, knowledge of the only true God (John 18:3). Simply viewing this Scripture in a shallow way that leads to a better life demeans this eternal purpose that Christ had in mind when he laid down His life for His sheep.