“I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Jesus came for many reasons according to his words in the Gospels. He came to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37). He came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). He came to preach good news to the poor, proclaim release to captives, give sight to the blind, and give liberty to the oppressed (Luke 4:18). He also came to demonstrate God’s abundance.
God is a god of abundance. He created over 9,000 species of birds. Would not a dozen or two have been sufficient? Consider the stars in the heavens; they are beyond numbering. Or look at the colors in a sunset, how he blends so many shades of blue, red, orange, and yellow. None of this seems necessary in a mechanical “what we need to survive” way.
Consider the wedding in Cana. Jesus, his mother, and his disciples are there and the host runs out of wine. At this point in the wedding, we can probably assume that the guests had already “had enough” to drink, yet Jesus makes at least 120 gallons for them. That’s over 600 standard bottles—abundance, excess, and extravagance by any measure. Certainly more than was necessary.
Even in less celebratory settings, Jesus demonstrates abundance. Twice, Jesus miraculously feeds the crowds that gathered to hear him and to be healed. Both times, there are leftovers. He feeds 5,000 and the disciples collect 12 baskets of leftovers. He feeds 4,000 and the disciples pick up 7 baskets of leftovers. Couldn’t Jesus have figured out exactly how much food they needed and made just that much? Maybe he made enough for leftovers in order to demonstrate that all had eaten their fill. Or, maybe he was merely demonstrating abundance.
Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
Mark 8:14-21 (ESV)
When I read this passage, I always imagine the disciples sitting in the boat looking at each other before shaking their heads ‘no’ in answer to Jesus’ question. Jesus seems to be chastising their inability to grasp the fact that he came to give them abundance.
God is a god of abundance. He doesn’t just forgive our sins; he promises us eternal life with him. He doesn’t just hear our prayers; he speaks to us through his Spirit. He doesn’t have to, but I’m so thankful he does.