Life in Christ
John 10:3-5
To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.…

Christ represents Himself in contrast with a type of character which He calls "the thief." When He applies this to those who come before Him, He means not only in time, but apart from Him in design. Not Moses and the prophets, who were sent of God and spake of Him, but those unspiritual commentators on the law of former days, including the scribes and Pharisees of His own. And well do the modern forms of this teaching deserve the name. Nothing is more destructive. The contrast between Christ and the robbers is drawn out. They came to gather for their own benefit — "to steal." Christ came to give. They came without skill, handling the souls of men with rough barbarity — "to kill." Christ came to save. They came regarding men as instruments to be used for themselves or their party; and so, if need were, to "destroy," aye, even by fire and sword. Christ came to sacrifice Himself for man's good. In one word, His purpose was to give life.

I. WHAT SORT OF LIFE DID CHRIST COME TO BRING? The proper life of man. There is a form of life which, in proportion to its possession, constitutes one truly, and in the full sense, a man.

1. That life must be co-ordinate with man's faculties; grow out of, and be measured by, its powers. This is true of all life. Look at the life of a bird; its whole structure is a beautiful machinery for living in the air. So with the fish; it is adapted for the water, and the mollusc for the rock. And the wealth and circuit of life develop in proportion to faculty. Life is full and rich where there are many and diverse abilities, and poor where there are few.

2. Then the life of man should be the grandest in the world, for no creature is so richly endowed. Life ought to pour in upon him from every side and through every avenue. The senses on the one hand, and the intellect and affections on the other, should teem with the materials of vivid and happy consciousness, and the sense of God and the Spiritual world should put the last touch of refinement on our pleasure and of gentleness on our love. But it is not so. Life is poor and mean, and, for the masses of men, sensual and degrading. The very capacities of our life are obscured. We have never felt it at its best, and do not know, therefore, what its best would be. Only one true man has lived. We may study life in Christ as in its realized ideal.


1. By setting it in its true course. He would take the river at its source, and turn it into its proper channel. Our face is turned the wrong way. The first step, therefore, is to bring this fatal blunder home to our minds, and create the consciousness of sin. Let a man once feel his need and repentance, conversion, turning to God for pardon and acceptance will follow.

2. By revealing the truths, on a right apprehension of which the tone of thought and activity depends. Life turns on the poles of thought. It is folly to say that it is of no consequence what a man believes. All history proves the contrary. A good life implies a true creed, and such a creed Christ comes to give. In His own Person He manifests God, so that we can know and love Him. The nature, responsibility, capacity, and destiny of the soul are forever on His lips. So, too, of our duty, its principles, claims, spirit. The love of God, and the way of peace with Him; all this, and more, He teaches. How? Not in words only. He is the Word. He reveals God by being "the express image of His person"; man, by fulfilling the idea of perfect manhood; duty, by reducing it to a living embodiment. In Him only the ideal and the actual have met. And His teaching is as perfect in form as in essence. It is gathered into a life history. No method is so interesting, impressive, significant, suggestive.

3. By kindling an enthusiasm for goodness, and by revealing it as an object for pursuit. It is a great, but by no means easy, thing to know our duty. For more than two thousand years the problems of morals have been debated. But it is greater still to feel the full force of the reasons on which it rests, and to feel the sublimity of goodness. For the life of goodness is an essential part of the life of man, as the word "virtue" indicates — the condition appropriate to vir, man. Now Christ quickens the love of goodness by winning our souls to Himself; and a great analyst of human nature has said that our very possibilities of virtue have been altered by the coming of Christ. We can love, hope, endure, dare more since His face has shone from the canvas of history. Catch inspiration from that grand life, and you will have life more abundantly.

4. By enlarging the circle of our benevolent regards. There is a strong element of selfishness in men, which tends to narrow our sympathies. "Every man for himself." And yet the best parts of life reach outside of ourselves. Children live in the love of those about them. There are our boyish friendships. Then comes the love of woman. By and by tiny feet patter on our household floor. Love multiplies and deepens as life goes on. We learn to care for our party, church, country, the world. Christ sanctifies all this, and makes it fruitful. The love of Christ can cure our selfishness, and we shall do some good in the world when we love men as Christ loved them, and not till then.

5. By becoming a spring of joy in our hearts. All true life is, or may be, joyous. "The water that I shall give him," etc. Paul lays it down as our duty to "rejoice evermore."

(J. F. Stevenson, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.

WEB: The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.

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