Feed My Sheep

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This is the last of the blog posts related to the Gospel of John (Session 8) Bible study and covers John, Chapter 21, verses 15 through 23. Simon Peter stands as a representative of all followers of Jesus in this chapter. Jesus had now appeared a third time since His victorious resurrection from death (Jn 21:14).

The disciples were happy to be sitting around a fire with Jesus on the beach. They felt so blessed to have the Son of God hang out with them and to cook fish for them to eat. But, Simon Peter must have gazed at that camp fire and in his mind had thoughts about another fire.

For on the night Jesus was arrested, he and John followed and waited in the high priest’s courtyard (Jn 18:15-16). It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself. When confronted by several people, he became afraid that he would be arrested also.  So, he denied his association with Jesus.

Earlier that evening, Peter had boasted to Jesus of his love and devotion (Jn 13:37). In fact, Peter bragged that even if all of the other disciples fell away, he would never fall away (Mk 14:29). But, Jesus immediately told Peter, “Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (Jn 13:38, NIV) And that is exactly what Peter did.

Now that the breakfast fire began to cool, memories of Peter’s own personal failure must have weighed heavily on his mind. He was disappointed and discouraged. How could Jesus ever trust him again with keys to the Kingdom of God?

christ+peter2Breakfast was now over and Jesus pulled Peter aside to walk with him down the beach. It wasn’t long before Jesus broke the uncomfortable silence, “Simon, son of John.” Peter was excited because Jesus spoke his name again. He could imagine the great father of faith also hearing the voice of the LORD calling him, “Abraham.” And Abraham answered, “Here I am!” (Gen 22:1)

Then Jesus asked Peter a challenging question, “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus pointed at some of the other disciples who were close by. In the past, Peter had once competed for Jesus’ attention with those same disciples. And Jesus used the strongest version of the word, love. In Greek, the term wasagape.” What was Peter’s answer? It was a more humble tentative version of love. “Yes, Jesus. I like (phileo) you.”

And here is the main point: Our love relationship with Jesus is not only based on our blessing from Him or our supposed devotion to Him. It is based on our readiness to share Jesus with others and care for them with Jesus’ shepherd heart. In each case, Jesus said to Peter and to us, “Feed my sheep.”  Who are Jesus’ sheep?  All of us (Isaiah 53:6)!

Sheep need a shepherd to take care of them; even an assistant shepherd.  Read 1 Peter 5:1-6, NIV. Did Peter get it? Do you get it?

This passage is about Jesus’ call for evangelism AND discipleship. It is not enough to bring people in to confess that Jesus is Lord and be baptized. He wants believers to hear and obey the whole Great Commission, stated in Matthew 28:19-20, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded.”

Do you love Jesus? Will you learn to be a disciple-maker and walk at least one other person through this Gospel of John study?

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