Feed His Sheep

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
John 21:15

For the last couple of devotions, the Scripture readings have dealt with God miraculously feeding his people through ordinary means – namely, bread and fish.

Today’s Scripture text also talks about feeding. It also includes fish. Jesus and Peter and six other disciples were having a breakfast of roasted fish on the shore of Galilee. It is a couple of weeks after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Up to this point, Jesus has been appearing and disappearing. He’s talked to all his disciples and has been getting them ready for when he will be leaving them by Ascension. They will then be going out into all the world to tell others the Good News about Jesus.

At this breakfast, Jesus and Peter have a heart-to-heart chat.

Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Three times! After the third time, Peter is practically insulted, certainly hurt.

Jesus doesn’t explain to Peter why he asks him three times. But it doesn’t seem hard to figure out.

A few weeks prior, Peter was in the courtyard of the home of the High Priest Caiaphas and was confronted by three different people who asked him if he knew Jesus.

They didn’t ask Peter if he loved him, only if he simply knew him.

And Peter denied knowing Jesus.

Three times!

There on the shore of Galilee, Jesus “reinstates” Peter with the words, “Feed my lambs,” “tend my sheep,” and “feed my sheep.”

Was Jesus changing Peter’s vocation from fisherman to shepherd? Was Jesus really telling Peter to get a flock of ovis aries (sheep)?

No, I don’t think so. After all, history tells us that Peter didn’t become a literal shepherd, but instead he became an Apostle whose mission for the rest of his life was to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Jesus wasn’t telling Peter to become a literal shepherd. But Jesus was telling Peter to feed his flock.

Jesus’ flock would be all Christians from that moment to this very moment. Peter was to take care of these Christians by “feeding” them the Word of God.

He would preach, proclaim, and share the Word of God from the Day of Pentecost till the day he was executed by Rome.

He would continue to “feed” Jesus’ lambs through his two epistles in the Bible and through his story told and re-told countless times down through history.

But another way of looking at this is that Jesus was not telling Peter only to feed his sheep. He was telling the entire Church to do this.

Martin Luther – the 16th Century Reformer – put it this way:

“It does not follow from this passage that a peculiar superiority was given Peter. Christ tells him ‘feed’ (i.e., teach <preach> the Word <the Gospel>, or rule the Church with the Word <the Gospel>), which task Peter has in common with the other apostles” (Power and Primacy of the Pope – Refutation of Roman Arguments, quoted from Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, copyright © 2005, 2006 by Concordia Publishing House, pp 298).

This means that even though Jesus was telling Peter to feed and tend, he’s also telling us to do that.

How do we feed and tend Christ’s flock? By using the gifts that God has given us to support the Church. We also tell others about Christ by telling our story of how Christ saved us!

So, let us feed and tend Christ’s flock with all that God has given us!

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you have called your Church to witness that in Christ you have reconciled us to yourself. Grant that by your Holy Spirit we may feed and tend Christ’s sheep so that all who hear the Gospel may receive the gift of salvation; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Qualified

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
Colossians 1:12

I’ve been told I have a good voice – speaking and singing.

I’ve also been told I have a face for radio, but at least my voice is also qualified for radio!

I never thought about being a radio announcer until an opportunity to do just that opened up in the fall of 1987.

I was a first-year student at Concordia Seminary. I had a part-time job as an accessioner at Concordia Historical Institute. It was an okay job, one which could feed my love of history.

But I found that while I was qualified for the job – it wasn’t because of my love of history. I could simply write a number in a book and affix that number on a piece of paper. That’s what an accessioner does – inventorying and recording historical documents that come into the Institute’s collection. I had a little room, dusty and musty, that was kept at a cool 68 degrees. There was one window high on the wall where I could see whether it was daytime or night but that was about it.

The pay was okay, but the work soon became dull. I started looking for another position. I walked down to the studios of KFUO AM/FM radio that was on the campus. I asked to see the program director. I told him who I was and what I was looking for.

He hired me on the spot and a couple of days later I was hosting the weekend afternoon slot on the AM side.

Like a duck takes to water, I felt right at home behind the control board and microphone of the radio studio.

My voice qualified me for the job! My voice that I readily acknowledge is a gift given to me by God (through my mom and dad).

The word “qualified’ shows up in today’s devotional text. But not exactly in the same context as my radio career.

It has been said that “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.”

I think that is very true!

While my voice qualified me for radio, what is in me doesn’t qualify me “to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” Instead, God qualifies me.

God qualifies all of us through the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ. To share with the saints in light is to live forever in God’s Kingdom of Glory – heaven!

We can only be qualified by God himself. We bring nothing to this party on our own!

And while the Kingdom of Glory is the end result of our inheritance, there are things we do before we go there!

God calls us to be his own children through the Means of Grace. Typically, this is first through Holy Baptism. And through the other Means of Grace – God’s Holy Word and the Sacrament of Holy Communion – we are continually qualified to fill God’s calling of us.

Our calling here in the Kingdom of Grace – our life in this world – is to tell others the Good News about Jesus!

I realize that there are many Christians who feel less than qualified to do this. But I contend that this isn’t true at all. God wouldn’t call us to do it and then not qualify us to do it.

As the hymn writer says:

If you cannot preach like Peter,
If you cannot pray like Paul,
You can tell the love of Jesus
And say He died for all.
stanza 3 of the hymn There Is a Balm in Gilead

You are qualified because you are called by God!

Almighty and ever-living God, you make me both to will and to do those things that are good and acceptable in your sight. Let your fatherly hand ever guide me and your Holy Spirit ever be with me to direct me in the knowledge and obedience of your Word that I may obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Put It Away

“So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”
1 Peter 2:1

I am on Twitter (@edblonski and @truemen). I am on Facebook. These two social media powerhouses are excellent ways to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a so much wider audience than I can in person, face-to-face.

That’s why I use them.

I broadcast a short devotion Monday through Friday on Facebook Live. I post a written devotion also.

I interact with dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of people every day.

But if you’ve ever been on Facebook or Twitter you know that there is a negative side to them.

If you spend any time on Facebook or Twitter you are quickly confronted with hate and vitriol like nothing or nowhere else!

So many people spouting so much ugliness about politics, religion, race, sports teams, celebrities, and on and on.

Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have thought that much unkindness and impoliteness and hatred could possibly exist!

This is where the 1 Peter 2 passage comes in. I try very hard to do what Peter says in verse 1, especially on Facebook and Twitter. Our world might be a more peaceful place if more people also did that – on social media as well as in the real world.

Of course, sharing the Gospel face-to-face is, by far, the best way to carry out what Jesus empowered us to do with his death and resurrection.

This is where carrying out 1 Peter 2:1 will have its greatest effect.

Do not doubt me on this. People are watching us Christians. Closely. And if we do not put away all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander, then they will not listen to us tell them about Jesus Christ!

It’s all about relationships, and that is what Peter is getting at. What he’s telling us to “put away” will have the result of strengthening our relationships with other people.

Jesus modeled this kind of living perfectly. He loved the unlovable, touched the untouchable, and prayed for those who were killing him.

When Jesus called us to proclaim his Gospel to the world, the Holy Spirit inspired the Scripture writers to tell us how to build relationships so that we could do this in the most effective ways possible!

Whether we are on social media or talking to someone at the coffee shop or in the produce aisle, put away all the ugliness and love others as God in Christ loves us!

©2017 True Men Ministries

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Read past devotions at the True Man Blog here.

Contribute to True Men Ministries to help keep this devotional going here.

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Not Why. Rather, What For?

Peter was in a place he never imagined he would be.Why me

Those three years seemed to go by in a blink of an eye. Yet, that day on the beach seemed like a lifetime ago.

He and his brother fished all night, catching nothing. In the morning, an itinerant preacher came by and asked to use his boat to preach from. After the sermon, a miraculous catch of fish, and then Peter heard the words of Jesus he would never, ever forget.

“Follow me, I will make you fishers of men. Do not be afraid.”

Afraid? Peter wasn’t afraid of anything! He would stand up to even Jesus when he didn’t like what he was hearing!

But then the betrayal by Judas, the arrest by the temple guards, and the farce of a trial at the High Priest’s house.

This man who earlier wasn’t afraid to confess boldly that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of Living God, cowered in fear before a servant girl. All she did was ask him if he was one of Jesus’ followers.

Three times, Peter ended up denying he even knew Jesus.

Then the crucifixion and the bitterness of living through that Saturday with the knowledge that he had all but nailed Jesus to that cross.

Yes, all that changed the next day. Jesus was suddenly there! The tomb was empty – he had seen it was empty – and Jesus was there with him in the upper room that afternoon!

Then Jesus was gone. Peter saw Him ascend to the heavens.

Peter mulled that over for 10 days.

He gathered again with his brothers and sisters in the Upper Room. Suddenly a loud sound, like a rushing wind, and what appeared to be tongues of flame!

This was it! The promised gift! Jesus said He would send the Holy Spirit and this was it!

This man who stood up to the Son of God, then cowered in fear before a servant girl, now found himself standing before a crowd of thousands.

“Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words.”

And when he was finished speaking, the Holy Spirit converted over 3000 people – the Christian Church was born and set into motion!

Ah, those were heady days for Peter. But now he finds himself in a very different place. Chained to a wall, in a damp and dark Roman jail. His death sentence was delivered and he was waiting for his own crucifixion.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials….”

Peter didn’t ask, “Why?” As in “Why me?” Rather, he focused on “What for?” For what reason do we suffer? What will be the good in my own death on a cross?

“…so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

When you go through tough and terrible times, it is only natural to ask, “Why me?”

But I challenge you (and myself!), by the power of the Holy Spirit, to ask instead, “What for?” And to know this answer – to give God glory so others may know the hope that you have within you!