Scripture Reading: John 21:15-25
After breakfast Jesus asked Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. (John 21:15 NLT)
What do we know about sheep? Sheep are among the dumbest of all creatures. Most animals will survive if left to wander alone in the wilderness. Not sheep! Sheep are notorious for wandering off and getting lost. They seem to have no sense of direction. The old saying, “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” applies to sheep. Sheep have no survival skills. They cannot defend themselves and are not swift of foot. They are totally dependent upon the shepherd—just like we are. The prophet Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each one of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa. 53:6).
Both the Old and New Testaments refer to Jesus as the shepherd of the sheep. The Psalmist said, “Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Ps. 100:3 NLT) while in Matthew 9:36 Jesus expresses his great love and compassion for his sheep, “Seeing the people, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” The Apostle John in his great chapter on the shepherd and sheep says, “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock he walks ahead of them, and they follow him, because they recognize his voice.” (Jn 10:3-4 NLT)
After his resurrection, Jesus confronted a despondent Peter and said to him three times, “Peter, feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). What was he trying to show Peter? I believe Jesus’ words to Peter were designed to convince the apostle that he was not damaged goods. In these words of encouragement Jesus was saying to Peter, “Your failure has not changed our relationship—you are still a vital part of my family.”
A number of years ago while serving on a lay renewal team I ran across a fellow believer who considered himself a total failure. I remember him saying, “I’m as far down on the ladder as any man can get.” Like Peter, he felt defeated and useless. Nothing was going right for him. His family was a shambles. He needed to hear the words that Jesus spoke to Peter, “Feed my sheep.”
Jesus offers the same words to you and me when we fail; “Take care of my sheep.” It’s never too late to make a fresh start. Yesterday is gone forever; today is a new day with the Lord.
Prayer: Dear Lord, use me today to help feed a sheep who is lost in sin.