John 10 begins with Jesus addressing the Pharisees (John 9:40) with a parable or figure of speech about the authenticity of the shepherd and his care for the sheep in contrast with the inauthenticity of thieves and robbers who would harm the sheep (John 10:1–5). John adds that the audience did not understand what Jesus was saying (John 10:6), so Jesus continues down the same illustrative path with another parable to further clarify the first one, and He adds in the middle of His next parable that God gives us life “more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV).
Jesus first emphasizes that He is the door of the sheep (John 10:7)—He is the authentic shepherd He mentioned in the first parable (John 10:2). Jesus adds that those who enter through the door—through the authentic shepherd (or good shepherd, as He calls Himself in John 10:10)—will be saved, going in and out and finding pasture (John 10:9). With these references Jesus is explaining that He is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). He is the authentic shepherd, or the good shepherd who provides life (or freedom and pasture, in the parable) for His sheep.
Jesus then reiterates the contrast between Himself and the thief who comes to steal and destroy. Jesus comes to give us life more abundantly (John 10:10). He would accomplish this—as a good shepherd would—by laying His life down for His sheep (John 10:11). Jesus would lay down His own life (John 10:18) as a sacrifice for sin so that those who believe in Him would not be lost (perish) but would have eternal life (John 3:16)—God would give them life more abundantly (John 10:10).
There are many worldviews and belief systems that claim to offer a way for us to have true life, to be fulfilled, and to be like God—Satan’s first temptation of humanity offered an alternative way to be like God (Genesis 3:5). But Jesus is the authentic shepherd—the good shepherd (John 10:11) who provides the way to right relationship with the Father (John 14:6). It is only through Jesus that God gives us life more abundantly (John 10:10).
The Pharisees were essentially enslaving the people they taught. The pharisaical system was legalistic and taught that, if people adhered closely enough to the Law of Moses, then—and only then—they could participate in God’s kingdom and receive His blessing. Jesus chastises the Pharisees sternly, explaining that the Pharisees were teaching the wrong path to righteousness and life (Matthew 5:20). Jesus explained in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5—7) that the appearance of external righteousness was not authentic righteousness and that, in order to have righteousness and life more abundantly, one needed to believe in Him (John 6:47).
In the parables of John 10, Jesus is contrasting Himself especially with the Pharisees. They were the thieves and the robbers who were harming the sheep, and He was the authentic or good shepherd through whom God gives life more abundantly (John 10:10). The Pharisees’ path was deceptive and led to death. This is why Jesus on more than one occasion referred to them as vipers (Matthew 3:7, 12:34, 23:33). Jesus’ path, on the other hand, led not only to life, but to life overflowing, life more abundantly. Jesus’ path was the authentic and true path to righteousness and abundant life. Through Him we have life more abundantly (John 10:10).