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Feed My Sheep: Serving Others Like Jesus


A depiction of Jesus sitting around the fire with His disciples

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

(John 21:15 NIV)


Peter had gone back to fishing. He had seen Jesus crucified and had seen Him, risen from the dead. But he had betrayed Him. In Peter's mind, it was nice that Jesus was raised from the dead, but it didn't affect him anymore because he had failed. So he returned to what he knew. He went back to fishing.


Thomas, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples had accompanied Peter. I believe this was not just a fishing vacation. I believe Peter had gone back to work. His crucified Lord was raised from the dead, and Peter went back to his routine life.


Sound familiar? A good percentage of American Christians live that way. We believe God is real and even that Jesus was raised from the dead, but we live as if it doesn't really affect our lives. What difference does it make that "Christ is risen - He is risen, indeed!"?


Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

(John 21:4-6 NIV)


The miraculous catch of fish that accompanied Peter's calling to fish for people is repeated that morning. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, is the first to recognize that the man who asked about their haul was Jesus. When Peter hears John say, "It is the Lord," he puts back on his outer garment and jumps in the water to make his way to shore. The other disciples bring the boat to shore and Jesus meets them with a breakfast of fish roasting on a fire. It is then that Jesus questions Peter:


“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”


Do you love me, Simon Peter? Peter replies, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus tells him, “Feed my lambs.” The question is put to Peter two more times: Do you love me. Two more times, Peter replies with: Yes I do! And all three times, Jesus tells Peter, "Feed my sheep."


How many times had Peter denied knowing Jesus by the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest the night Jesus was arrested? Three times. How many times does Jesus call forth from Peter the expression of his love for Him? Three times. How many times does Jesus tell Peter to feed His lambs? Three times. Once for each denial.


Peter is restored that morning on the shoreline of Galilee. And Peter understands something that changes his life and his future. His denials are not final. His sins are not unforgivable, even though he knew better. Jesus is alive! Peter loves Him. And Peter's calling remains: fish for people. Feed Jesus' sheep. Peter is called to fulfill the role of evangelist and shepherd that he was called to in the first place.


We can be tempted to respond like Peter and the other disciples did. We can come to Easter worship, affirm that Christ is risen! and then go back to life on Monday like nothing has changed. Yes Jesus is raised from the dead. Yes God is real. Yes the Holy Spirit give us religious goose bumps once in a while. But we've got lives to live. "That calling thing is for super religious people like pastors and missionaries, and I'm not one of them," we tell ourselves. And we are as wrong as Peter was when he went back to fishing. That calling to fish for people and feed Christ's sheep is for every follower of Jesus, not just for clergy.


Christ is risen! He is Lord! If these two things are true (and they are) then life can never be the same. Jesus deserves to be Lord not just of the universe, but of my life. I can never live the same way once I have encountered the living Lord. He created me and redeemed me by His death on the cross. He conquered death for me and gave me eternal life by coming out of that tomb. If I respond to all that by a ho-hum, back to work mentality that leaves Jesus out of my everyday life, I am truly ungrateful and disobedient.


Christ is risen! He is alive. He wants to use you and me to change the world. He is the only one worth pursuing with all that is in us. And He is the One who calls us to walk with Him by faith into a life of Christlikeness, love and service to others.


Jesus says to you and me (not just to Peter): Do you love me? If the answer is "yes," then feed my sheep! Make a difference. Serve others. Tell them about Jesus. Live your life full-tilt for Christ and not for yourself. It's the truest and most righteous response to His resurrection, while we await ours.


Happy Easter, everyone. Feed some sheep today!

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