"What kinds of things do we need to feel fulfilled in life? Throw out some quick answers."
The Sunday School teacher turned to the whiteboard and jotted down the rapid-fire answers coming from his 'married-with-children'-type class:
Marriage, of course! (big laughs all around)
Prosperity, or at least financial stability
A sound mind
Possessions--not excessive, but the necessary things
Children (from Fran, who had just had triplets--more giggles and grins)
Maybe an education?
"Okay, folks, that's enough for now. Would you agree that a person who could put a check mark by every single one of these items would probably feel fulfilled in this life?"
The class members nodded, and murmured in agreement--yes, anyone would. It didn't look like a bad life to have had--not bad at all.
"Now, give me some names of famous people, dead or alive, who could claim to have achieved each thing on this board."
Person after person was suggested, but many of them died young, or were unhealthy, or poor. In other words, many successful people did not lead fulfilling lives, according to the class on that particular Sunday morning.
Everybody seemed to be awake and listening, and sharply tuned in. The teacher 'went in for the kill.' Putting down the smelly marker, he asked his next question: "When Jesus ascended, had He led an 'abundant life'? Would He have indicated that He 'felt fulfilled' by His time here?"
The immediate reaction was a resounding "Yes!"
And heads turned to review their very own list from the board.
Jesus hadn't 'scored very well,' had He?
The teacher wisely let the silence linger a moment, while new thoughts slithered from mind to mind around the room.
"He gave many descriptions of Himself, and many explanations as to why He was here. One of my favorites, the verse we're studying this morning--though you didn't know it yet, clever as I am!--is John 10:10. Here it is, from the NIV: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
"So, according to our list here, He came and had a pretty unfulfilling life, so that we could have life to the full. Yet, you felt that He probably would have felt fulfilled. Why? What gives, my friends?"
Silence. Throat clearing. Folding chairs shifting slightly on the tiled floor.
Finally, from the back: "Obedience. He did what God asked of Him, though it meant giving His life. He fulfilled His mission."
The teacher bowed to the statement, waved his hand with a flourish, and said, "Thank you, sir."