To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.…
Our Lord here declares the great end for which He came into the world, that we "might have life." He had already said this (John 3:16; John 6:33; John 5:40). But here He speaks with a still greater fulness of meaning: "that they might have it more abundantly"; promising some great endowment, some greater gift of God than man had ever before received. This is the great grace of the gospel, the abundant gift of life.
I. The gift a spirit of life dwells in those who are united to Christ, in a FULNESS more abundant than was ever revealed before. The life possessed by Adam was in the measure of his own infirmity; the life which is in Christ is in the fulness of a Divine manhood. Adam was united to God only by God's grace and power. Christ is God made man. The humanity of Adam was only human; in Christ the manhood is become Divine. The union of the Godhead with the manhood endowed it with a substantial grace whereby it was deified. And it was from the miraculous conception filled with the fulness of all graces. His very manhood became the fountain, a great deep of all grace. Therefore He said (John 5:21, 26). This was the prophecy of the Baptist (Matthew 3:11). And it was His own promise (John 7:37-39). And after He had entered into His glory, St. John bare witness that this promise had been fulfilled (John 1:14, 16); that is to say, the anointing which was upon Him has flowed down to us. The Spirit which descended upon our Head hath run down to the least member of His body, even "to the skirts of His clothing." When he ascended into Heaven, He "received gifts for men"; that is, the full dispensation of grace was committed unto the Second Adam.
II. The gift of life is abundant also in its CONTINUANCE. By the regeneration of the Holy Ghost we are engrafted into the second Adam, very man, not frail and weak, but also very God, changeless and almighty. We are gathered under a Head which cannot fail; and are members of Him who bath revealed His own Divine name: "I am — the Life." We cannot die in our Head, because He is Life eternal; nor can we die in ourselves, except we cast out the Giver of life, who is in us. Our first head fell, and drew us with him into the grave; our second Head is in heaven, and "our life is hid with Him in God." Lessons:
1. We hereby know that in all our acts there is a Presence higher than our own natural and moral powers. We were united to Christ by the present of the Holy Spirit from our baptism. There has never been a moment from the first dawn of consciousness, from the first twilight of reason, and the first motions of the will, when the Spirit of life has not been present with us. He has created in us the first dispositions to truth and holiness; prevented us in all good intentions, restrained us in all evil; beset our whole spiritual nature, and encompassed us on all sides, guiding us into the will of God.
2. This Spirit works in us according to the revealed and fixed laws of our probation. His persuasions are by illuminations of truth and inspirations of holiness; and these are powers which act not by force, but like the lights and dews of heaven, by a piercing virtue, infusing new gifts of fruitfulness and power into the works of God. What we receive of the Divine Spirit is so given to us as to become our own, and as our own we use it with a perfect freedom of the will.
3. Lastly, we may learn that the union of this Divine Presence with us in our probation, issues in the last and crowning grace of this life, the gift of perseverance (Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:24). When did we ever set ourselves sincerely to any work according to the will of God, and fail for want of strength? It was not that strength failed the will, but that the will failed first.
Parallel VersesKJV: To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.