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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Should We Do It?

“Do you know…? Can you number…? Can you bind…? Do you give…? Do you make…? Is it by your understanding…?”
Job 39:1, 2, 10, 19, 20, 26

I was in the second year of my pastoral ministry when the news broke.

Scientists in Scotland had successful cloned a sheep using a cell from another sheep. While this wasn’t the first time an animal had been cloned, it was the first time one had been cloned from an adult cell.

Being a fan of science fiction books and movies, I knew a little about clones. But now science fiction had become science fact.

At the gathering of pastors that spring we discussed and debated what “Dolly” (the cloned sheep’s name) meant to the Church.

Both those in the scientific community and the religious community raised concerns about the ethics of cloning animals. And, of course, this led to heated debates on whether the cloning of humans would ever happen or ever should happen.

There is no doubt that it can happen. We, as humans, have figured it out. We have the capabilities to use scientific knowledge to do things like this and much more.

The questions that God puts to Job in chapter 39 are not rhetorical in the sense that humans could not know how to influence the animal kingdom. 3800 years after Job it is verifiable that we can.

But maybe they are rhetorical in the sense of God asking Job (and us) not could we but rather should we.

Just because you can do a thing doesn’t mean you should do a thing.

God is asking Job these questions not as an interrogation as to what Job knows and doesn’t know but to make the point that there is a God and Job isn’t him!

In this chapter, we meet the God who created mountain goats, wild donkeys, wild oxen, ostriches, horses, and hawks.

They each have their idiosyncrasies and ways that many people do not understand. That doesn’t mean we could never understand them.

But it does mean that we cannot make them to be what they are.

God can and did! He is the Creator of all that exists and has given living things their living breath.

And the ultimate point, again, is that since we cannot do this and only God can, we should trust God that he knows what he is doing.

Even when something bad happens to us.

In Job’s case, it is the loss of his wealth, his family (all except his wife) and his health. Job doesn’t understand why this has happened to him. But God points out that this isn’t all that Job doesn’t understand.

He also doesn’t understand how wild goats, wild donkeys, oxen, ostriches, horses and hawks live and move and have their being. Yet they still do.

God is subtly asking Job to trust him. It is as if God were saying to Job, “I know you don’t understand what’s going on now, but trust me! I love you and I will never leave you nor forsake you!”

Jesus would echo this sentiment to his disciples.

What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand” (John 13:7).

We may have the capability to alter or mimic the creation process of God, but we need to understand God as best we can before we start messing around with his creation.

And the best way to understand God is by faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, who forgives our sins and gives us new life through his death and resurrection!

©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.

Listen to the True Man Podcast here.

Subscribe to In My Father’s Footsteps here.