The Gateway to Abundant Life
Chances are, you have heard of Jesus being called Messiah. Another commonly heard name is Son of God. Most likely, the name Good Shepherd has reached your ears. But what about the Gate? I doubt it. In fact, if Jesus were commonly referred to as this, people would pose a rather confused mindset. Some may begin thinking more highly of their back fence or dog pen; however, that is not at all what Jesus was speaking. In the Gospel of John, Jesus reveals to us this unique identity, “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” (John 10:9 NLT). The world seems
to drift with the newest innovations, new-found hopes, and startling artifacts. Hoping for the best, they set up their hope and run. The past two thousand years has offered a hope that stands above anything else. Jesus Christ has his name and his popularity. It is our response to a subbed toe or a broken finger, but isn’t he more than a response to painful situations? He is our hope, happiness, and joy—the real kind! Verse 10 goes on to say, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10 KJV). Within the four Gospels, there are many stories of people meeting the holder of this abundant life. Just like today, some took advantage of Jesus and some refused to have any part, but let us take a look at the ones He did change. From a real biblical perspective, let’s we see how “they” would tell of their experiences with Jesus Christ.
The Woman and the Well—He knew it all, yet he still loved me
I was only set out to get some water from our beloved well. Turns out, that wasn’t all I would do. As I saw the man seemingly approaching me, I just thought of him as another man who must have needed either water or a simple rest. As I eventually realized, this wasn’t just another guy—he was a Jew! When he asked for a drink of water, I was perplexed. It was very uncommon for us Samaritans to give Jews anything, let alone water. So I responded. I asked him why I should give him a drink. His answer seemed quite bizarre to me at first, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” I began to think this man was just a little crazy—give me living water without a bucket? But he spoke again, so I listened to his unusual words, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give them will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Delighted and amazed, I asked for this wonderful water. Then, the part that confronted me like a roaring lion, “Go and get your husband.” I knew the answer, but that didn’t mean he did, right? I answered simply, telling him I didn’t have a husband. However, I was surprised and worried when he began to tell me my life story, “Your right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!” There was something very special about this man, but what was it? I thought he was a prophet so I began to ask a religious question. It had to associate with where to worship, for the Jews and Samaritans had different preferences. The man was concerned with more than just a question like this. He was concerned with my salvation, and how I worshiped, not where I worshiped. I ended my conversation with a statement to ease my uncertainty saying how the Messiah would explain everything. Soon afterward he said, “I Am the Messiah!” Excited, I went and told others about this amazing man. I was filled with hope and light because Jesus knew my life story yet he loved me even still. He wanted to save me even still. Oh how he wants to accomplish the same within you! (John 4:7-26, 39 NLT)
Zacchaeus and the Sycamore—He noticed me and paid attention to me
I stole money—a lot of money. Not just a coin here and there, but a few dollars this day and more this day. I was full of greed, selfishness, and envy. Although I had become extremely rich, I had something missing. Or perhaps someone missing. When I heard Jesus was coming through town, I hurried to the road to get a glimpse of whom was supposed to bring hope and salvation. Because I was undoubtedly short, I couldn’t see over all the other people who had an intention similar to mine. Desperate to see Jesus, I climbed a tree that was standing along the road. I was despised my many. I wondered if Jesus would even consider me if he even saw me. What I had done couldn’t be compared to most peoples’ sins. I was an outcast because of my list of seemingly unforgivable sins. Here he came. He had a look of compassion in his eyes. Then those same eyes looked up at me, and with his mouth in my direction he said, “Zacchaeus! Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” I was excited as can be. The Messiah just called up to me words of life. I quickly jumped down and abruptly walked to my home. Along the way I may have heard a few people speak under their breath about such an uneven match, “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner.” My immediate joy was greater. Overwhelmed with faith in the Son of God, I began to feel the grace and mercy of this great man. Finally, I knew I mattered! I knew I counted! I was rolled out a red carpet I didn’t deserve, a grace I didn’t earn. With a broken and repentant heart, I told Jesus my plan, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” Then Jesus revealed to me the hope and joy I had begun to feel, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” My life would never be the same. My encounter with Jesus wrote in big BOLD letters. It spoke to me: I matter, I count, and I am definitely noticed. This promise holds true to you as well. If God forgave me, he sure can forgive you! A marvelous salvation experience awaits you! (Luke 19:1-10 NLT)
The Adulterous Woman—He spared my life with profound grace and no condemnation
Humiliation. Gilt. Shame. Sorry. It is words like these that filled my mind as the religious leaders lead me to my judge. I was unsure. Would I live? Would I die? Innocent? Guilty? I didn’t know, but I did know this: I had sinned. With hatred and no blessing, the religious accusers lead me to the place where my fate would be decided. At the temple? They lead me to a great crowd and a perfect teacher, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” Ironically, the great man bent down and began writing in the dirty dust. My accusers kept harassing him for an answer, so he stood and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Once again he stooped to write in the dust. Then the most amazing thing happened: my accusers began to leave. Abounding with hope I watched as all the imperfect people left the spot identical to a court. But one remained. He stooped until they had left, then he stood and told me, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” I replied with a simple no, but I began to lose hope. All the others had sinned, but Jesus hadn’t. What was going to happen to me? Then I heard his words, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” Yes! I was filled with a hope. Jesus Christ saved my live. He could have stoned me, but he let me have another chance. The Savior can accomplish the same in your life. There are plenty of stones, but his grace is much more plentiful. (John 8:3-11 NLT)
Nicodemus and the Late-Night Conversation—He was still there for me and he helped me understand
I lived being well-respected and very intelligent within the scriptures. I was known for my abilities and had friends who were the same. Even though I had it all, I felt left out of something greater. Jesus had been at the Jewish Passover celebration and accomplished amazing miracles. Now, being a part of the Pharisees, it wasn’t good that I cared about this man. Many of my fellow Pharisees absolutely despised Jesus. They didn’t dare to begin a relationship with him or look at him with true faith, but I couldn’t bare myself. I had to talk with this extraordinary man. I had to be cautious though. The Pharisees may see me and begin to disrespect me. So I decided I would visit him at night. I knew I couldn’t sleep that night until I truly found out for myself whom this guy named Jesus really was. After approaching him, I told him what I knew and hoped his response would suite my dash for hope, “Rabbi, we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.” Then, Jesus said something in response, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” His response made me question, “What do you mean? How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus goes on to further explain, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the spirit.” As it turns out, I had to believe in Jesus to be saved. After some more confusion, I finally began to realize more of what a life with Jesus is like. Soon, he stated his outstanding promise in a great statement, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” I knew this wonderful promise came from God. The greatest part of my story is the fact of Jesus being there for me, and his love for me in helpful explaining. I can assure you today that there isn’t such thing as a wrong time. God is waiting for you. (John 2:23-3:21 entire story NLT)
Life is Meaningless without God, But the Gate is Still Open
Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived, he had much wealth, and had the honor of constructing God’s temple, yet he was completely undivided on the fact that life is meaningless without the Lord. In the book of Ecclesiastes, he says, “Everything is meaningless, completely meaningless! (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NLT). Solomon went through much consideration regarding the world. He found out through experimentation that nothing he did brought him any meaning. He was able to discover there is purpose in life with God. Solomon ends the book of Ecclesiastes with these words: “That’s the whole story. Here now is my conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NLT). Today, we have the opportunity to truly follow God. Because of Jesus Christ, an abundant life full of meaning is sure to exist. The gate, Jesus Christ, is still open. Will you walk through?