Jesus Talks To Peter After The Resurrection

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The Marvelous Meaning of ‘Feed My Sheep’ in John 21

Amanda IdlemanContributing Writer, Crosswalk.com
closeup of sheep in grass to signify feed my sheep in John 21

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” – John 21: 17 (NIV)

Can you hear the urgency in Jesus’ question for Peter? The tenderness in the way he pushes Peter past his failure of denying Jesus and into living a life that continues to honor Jesus? After reading this exchange, we can all start to see God’s heart of love for humanity. He desires us to be people who live in service of others!

Jesus goes out of his way to clear the air between Peter and himself. He does not leave this Earth without making sure Peter knows that He is forgiven and that God still has a place for Peter in his Kingdom. Jesus also gives the rest of us insight as to what those who proclaim they love Him must do. He wants us to feed his sheep.

Jesus calls for action to accompany our faith; giving meaning and purpose for our Christian lives.

Let’s be the people that take Jesus’ words seriously and begin to willingly give our time and talent so that we are a blessing to those around us. Philippians 2:17 says, “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.”

May we all have the opportunity to share the joy that comes when we are faithful to serve. Let’s explore what Jesus is saying to Peter in John 21 and how we can apply these words to our own lives.

What Does ‘Feed My Sheep’ Mean In the Gospel of John?

Three times Jesus charges Peter to care for his church. Jesus tells Peter to feed his lambs, feed his sheep, and then again to feed his sheep. The “lamb and sheep” that Jesus is referring to is the church of Christ. Becoming part of Christ’s church means we accept him in our hearts as our Lord and Savior through a prayer of faith.

We see the term sheep used elsewhere in the Bible. In Luke 15:4-7 Jesus tells the parable of the lost sheep and says he would leave the 99 to find the one lost sheep. John 10:11 states that Jesus is the good shepherd and he will lay down his life for his sheep.

Jesus is our chief shepherd, caring for all of his followers. Jesus invited Peter and all his disciples to take part in caring for his church. In this text “feed my sheep” means more than just give them food; it’s referring to the work of a shepherd. They are called to nurture others, care for the church, feed believers and the lost with spiritual food, protect those in the church, and go out and seek the lost “sheep” that are still out in the world.

Why does Jesus give Peter this charge? It was a way to not only forgive Peter for his earlier betrayal of Christ but to show that Jesus had absolute trust in Peter’s ability to lead in God’s church. Jesus forgives Peter and entrusts him with being part of the most important work to be done here on Earth.

Who Was Jesus Instructing and Why?

In John 21, Peter and a few of the disciples decide to go fishing; but after fishing all night they had no success. In the morning, a man calls to them from the shore asking if they had caught any fish. They reply “no” and he tells them to cast their net on the right side of their boats. When they listen to the man from the shore’s instructions they suddenly catch an abundance of fish! As they are pulling up the net, packed full of fish, John recognizes that the man on the shore is Jesus and shares this revelation with Peter. Peter immediately jumps out of the boat and eagerly swims to shore to meet Jesus!

When Peter gets to Jesus he sees that Jesus is waiting with fish and bread ready for them to eat. Jesus invites Peter to have breakfast with him and then in verse 17 begins to ask Peter if he loves him. Jesus asks Peter “if he loves him” three times—mirroring how Peter denied Christ three times before he was killed on the cross.

Jesus’ conversation with Peter is Jesus restoring his relationship with Peter, charging Peter to continue the mission of sharing the good news of Jesus with the world, and preparing Peter for what it was going to take to be his follower in the coming months and years. Jesus foretells Peter’s death and instructs him not to worry with the fate of the other disciples but to focus his mind on following Jesus well (John 21:18-22).

Jesus is sharing with Peter and the disciples who are huddled around this breakfast fire during this intimate exchange that to love him was going to mean action on their end. Loving Jesus looked like “feeding his sheep.” These men went out from these precious encounters with Jesus, before he ascended to Heaven, and they all gave all their lives to grow the early church.

The two Loads of fishes

By: Charles Spurgeon

‘And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.’ John 21:6

Suggested Further Reading: John 6:22–35

The whole life of Christ was a sermon. He was a prophet mighty in word and deed; and by his deeds as well as his words he taught the people. It is perfectly true that the miracles of Christ attest his mission. But we ought not to overlook that probably a higher reason for the miracles is to be found in the instruction which they convey. To the world without, at the present time, the miracles of Christ are more hard to believe than the doctrine which he taught. Sceptics turn them into stones of stumbling, and when they cannot cavil at the marvellous teaching of Jesus, they attack the miracles as monstrous and incredible. I doubt not that even to minds seriously vexed with unbelief, the miracles, instead of being helps to belief, have been trials of faith. Few indeed are there in whom faith is wrought by signs and wonders; nor indeed is this the gospel way of bringing conviction to the soul: the secret force of the living word is the chosen instrumentality of Christ, and wonders are left to be the resort of that antichrist by whom the nations shall be deceived. We, who by grace have believed, view the miracles of Christ as noble attestations to his mission and divinity, but we confess that we value them even more as instructive homilies than as attesting witnesses; it is our conviction that we should lose much of the benefit which they were meant to convey to us, if we were merely to view them as seals to the roll, for they are a part of the writing of the roll itself. The marvels wrought by our blessed Lord are acted sermons full of holy doctrine, set forth to us more vividly than it could have been in words.

For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ taught lessons as follow-up to and spiritual application of some of his miracles (Matthew 21:21–22Mark 2:9–11Luke 5:9–10John 6:26–279:39–41). Are you learning them?

 The King Eternal

by Inspiration Ministries

“The Lord is the true God, he is the living God, and the everlasting king.” – Jeremiah 10:10

Ernest Shurtleff already was a published poet by the time he graduated from Andover Theological Seminary in 1888. Knowing this background, other students asked him to write a poem to commemorate the ceremony. He called it “Lead On, O King Eternal.”

The picture was of soldiers sent into battle for Christ who marched into “fields of conquest.” This battle song acknowledged Christians’ daily struggle against evil.

Shurtleff looked forward to celebrating victory as they fought with “deeds of love and mercy.” He knew that they would face difficulties. While acknowledging the reality of the cross, he celebrated the reality of the crown and the victory of those who are faithful.

But Shurtleff realized that God’s grace had made them strong. They faced a conflict that will continue until “sin’s fierce war shall cease, and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace.”

This conflict didn’t depend on clashing swords or “stirring drums” but “with deeds of love and mercy.” Shurtleff was ready, gladly following his King, knowing that “the crown awaits the conquest.”

The imagery would become real for Shurtleff who eventually moved to Europe, where great tensions erupted in wars. But the spiritual battle was even more important. As you go out into spiritual battle, be sure you are prepared and ready. Be equipped and fit, confident in your victory through Christ.

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