What Does John 10:10 Mean? (the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest. John 10:10 

There’s a common belief that God is a killjoy. He wants obedience, but doesn’t really care about our happiness. But the meaning of John 10:10 flies in the face of that. He didn’t just come to give us life, but life to the fullest. 

But also in this passage there’s a contrast. While Jesus came to give us life, something else is out to kill, steal, and destroy us. 

This is a powerful passage that has some incredible truths for us in our everyday lives. If you spend a few minutes diving into the John 10:10 meaning I think your life and faith will be challenged and encouraged. 

The Context Of John 10:10

When we read the Bible it’s important to pay attention to the context it is written in. John 10:10 comes in the middle of a discourse in which Jesus is contrasting the Good Shepherd (himself) to the false shepherds. 

In The Chronological Life Of Christ Mark Moore says, “Jesus applies to himself two metaphors—shepherd and door. He applies to the Jewish leaders four metaphors—thief, robber, stranger and hireling. These don’t represent four different types of Jews. Rather, each of the four identifies a particular trait. These four traits may not be applicable to every Pharisee and Sadducee. But they paint an accurate portrait of the group as a whole.”

Now in this passage Jesus never comes out and calls the religious leaders the bad guys. But he doesn’t have to, the audience knows who he’s talking about. 

Not only have they expressed their desire to kill Jesus, but they have used people (defenseless sheep) to trap him. The lame man, blind man, and woman caught in adultery have all been victims in their game. (John 5:1-14, John 9:1-12, and John 8:1-11)

Throughout John 10 Jesus is revealing the religious leaders’ motives. It’s a warning both to them and the people who follow them. 

Jesus is using this illustration of the Good Shepherd and the false shepherds to drive his point home. The imposters are ultimately only after their selfish gains and they will kill, steal, and destroy to get it. But Jesus came not to take life, but to give life to the fullest. John 10:10 is about to expound upon this point further. 

The Meaning Of John 10:10

To help us understand what Jesus is communicating we are going to break down this verse into three sections. This will help us better understand how the meaning of John 10:10 applies to our life today. 

The Thief Comes To Steal, Kill, And Destroy

In John 10:8 Jesus says, “all who came before me are thieves and robbers.” And those thieves and robbers might say the right words, but their actions not altruistic. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. They don’t care for the sheep. 

Jesus tells us why they don’t care for the flock in John 10:12, because they are hired hands and do not own the sheep. So not only do these thieves cause harm to the sheep they also fail to protect them; when danger comes they run. 

Mark Moore says, “These are mercenary clergy who feed off the fat of the flock, and when danger or opposition presents itself, they move on to greener pastures. They are so unlike the Good Shepherd who lays his life down for the sheep and calls us to the same commitment.” 

These imposters are selfish and their actions are destructive. They care only about themselves and will steal, kill, and destroy whenever it suites them. 

The meaning of John 10:10 is a warning about the motives of such people. 

I Have Come To Give You Life

Now comes the contrast. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus says, I have come to give you life. 

The thieves are only concerned with themselves, but the Good Shepherd is concerned with his flock. 

Throughout John 10 Jesus uses imagery of what the Good Shepherd does for his sheep. He protects, provides green pastures, rescues, and lays down his life. That’s quite the contrast. Jesus goes out of his way for his sheep while the false shepherds run away. 

This is a beautiful picture Jesus is painting in this passage. It’s one of an intimate relationship in which we see Jesus’ incredible love and care for his flock. Us. 

And Life To The Fullest

But Jesus didn’t come to just give us life, but life to the fullest. Or abundant life. The best quality life. 

Jesus isn’t the Good Shepherd just because he came to gain sheep, but because he enables his sheep to flourish, find enjoyment, and experience his goodness. Jesus wants you to have an abundant life. 

And that life starts now. Jesus didn’t promise us an easy life here on earth. But what he did promise was peace and joy in the midst of whatever we are facing. AND we have the promise of eternal life. Eternity is not grand because it’s long, but because it’s rich.

What God has for you is not just life, but life to the fullest. He wants the best for you. When you go to him that is what you will experience

Whose Voice Are You Listening To? 

John 10:10 is an incredible promise for us to hold on to. And it also should cause us to ask a question… Whose voice are we listening to? 

There’s a lot of voices around you. Each of them are telling you something you need to be happy and content about. But only one of those voices has your best interest in mind. 

I see a lot of Christians who profess Jesus as their Savior but listen to and follow what other voices tell them. And while the world’s voices might sound good, they don’t lead to the full life, the abundant life. Rather they will only leave us wanting more. Like drinking salt water, it provides a moment of satisfaction, but ends up leaving us more and more thirsty. 

The imposter’s voices don’t have your best interest in mind. They are selfish and the ultimate goal is their own gain. 

So, whose voice are you listening to? The Good Shepherd who came to bring you life to the fullest? Or the thief who will kill, steal, and destroy to get what they want? 

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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