This is canola seed. Dumping canola into a truck from an overhead bin is fascinating, almost mesmerizing to watch. Because it’s not being moved in segments with flighting like in an auger, but in one pouring in a continuous stream it behaves very much like a flow of thick liquid. A tandem truck can be filled in less than a minute. It is very cool to watch, but it also behaves much like a liquid, cascading over the sides when the truck gets full, which isn’t nearly so cool to watch.
Just to clarify I personally haven’t ever had that happen, but that picture is useful to keep in mind as we seek to understand what Jesus meant when he said in John 10:10 that he had come to give us “abundant life”. The canola picture describes “abundant”, but what did Jesus mean by “life”? To grasp that it’s helpful to know that the New Testament uses three different words to describe “life”.
The first word is “bios” which you could understand in a timeline. I was born, lived in these places, accomplished certain things, earned this much money, etc. “Bios” quantifies life, but it doesn’t tell who I am or what my nature or character or personality is like. That word is “psyche” and it’s used to describe the sort of person I am.
But the word Jesus used in John 10:10 was “zoe.” In the Bible “zoe” is always used in connection with the life of God. We all share “bios” and have “psyche” but “zoe” is a gift from God, by faith, that we receive from Jesus. Certainly “bios” and “psyche” are from God as well, but until we receive “zoe” we don’t recognize that.
“Zoe” is the term being used whenever you read “eternal life” but, while it certainly includes that, it also indicates the very nature, or righteousness of Jesus himself, a nature that he creates within us. It is also the term used to describe streams of living water flowing out of Jesus followers, which brings us back to the picture of the canola.
Abundant life is not found in “bios”, a life of accumulation and accomplishment. It is God’s life within us that boils out of us like canola overfilling the truck, and it is expressed in various ways. Here’s two. A couple of verses later in John 10, Jesus states that he lays down his life (psyche) for us. We in turn spend our “bios” and “psyche” on serving others too.
Another expression is found in Romans 4:12. Here Paul talks about the secret of being content regardless of circumstance. That secret? Abundant “zoe”.
(For a much fuller dealing of “life” in the New Testament I encourage you to read the essay Life In Three Dimensions. You can find it here: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=06-03-017-f )