TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP
Updated: Nov 22, 2022
In John 21 we find Jesus spending some time with his disciples. This was the third time he had appeared to them after he was raised from the dead. Peter was getting a little antsy and called on some colleagues to join him for a late-night fish. Six other men joined him in the boat and off they went. However, even though they fished all night “…they caught nothing.” (v:3)
As the sun rose, Jesus was standing on the shore observing all that had gone on. “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some fish!” he called out. “And when they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (v:6) Pulling the net ashore they counted their catch – “153 large fish.” The disciples then joined Jesus around a campfire for a breakfast of fish and bread.
As they finished, Jesus turned to Peter (whose mind I’m sure was still haunted by his three denials of Jesus) and asked him: “Peter, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” More than the elation of a large haul? More than the comradeship of friends? More than everything life can offer? Peter’s answer was prompt. “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.” “Then feed my sheep,” Jesus replied. Three times Jesus asked him the same question. Three times Peter gave him the same answer. And three times Jesus turned his attention to “His sheep.”
Two things were happening. 1. Jesus wanted to counter any lingering guilt Peter had bottled up about his denials of Jesus. He was telling Peter much the same as he told the woman at the well who had been caught in adultery, “Go, and sin no more.” “I have a job for you to do. Feed my sheep. Care for my sheep. Nourish my sheep.”
2. An underlying lesson about service was also being made. These men had fished all night and caught nothing. However, when they responded to Jesus’ instruction to throw their net on the other side, they caught such an abundance of fish, recruits had to be called to help them.
To those who continue to “fish all night and catch nothing,” Jesus is calling, “Throw your nets on the other side …try things differently and you will catch fish.” Jesus proceeded to give Peter the key to his potential success when he said, “Peter if you truly love me – feed my sheep. Take care of my sheep. Nourish my sheep in the knowledge of Me.”
If we are engaged in the ministry of the church for any other reason than to “feed and care for His sheep,” we will catch little. Jesus reminded Peter, as he reminds us, they are HIS sheep – not ours. “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3) Our call is to care for and nourish HIS sheep. Responsible evangelism necessitates responsible discipleship.
It is a principle of the Kingdom of Heaven that “if we are faithful in the few things, God makes us ruler over many.” (Matthew 25:14-30) That’s just the way He works. As we prove trustworthy and diligent about loving his sheep, God enlarges our territory and gives us more of his sheep to care for and love.
“Lord, give us Your heart as the Great Shepherd, to love and care for Your sheep.” Amen.
Be blessed, my friend.
The Barnabas Group / Loads of Love
Psalm 100:3; Matthew 28:18-10; John 10:7-18; Acts 20:28