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John 21

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, 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.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”  ‭‭John‬ ‭21:15-17‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In this passage, Peter is asked by Jesus three times if he loves Him.  It is very interesting to note that Jesus asks Peter three times, which is the exact same number of times that Peter denied knowing Jesus in John 18:15-27.  If we truly love Jesus, then we will do exactly what Jesus asked Peter to do: feed and take care of His sheep. This raises a few questions: 

1. Who are His sheep?  Every follower of Christ is one of His sheep: “For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care…” (Psalms 95:7).  When Jesus calls us His sheep, He is reminding us that we are all vulnerable and immature to some extent, and in need of His nurturing, protection and care.  

2. Why does Jesus tell Peter to feed and care for His sheep?  Leaders in the church, from youth ministry leaders all the way to senior pastors all have a responsibility to encourage and take care of the spiritual needs of the people they are in charge of.  “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve” (1 Peter 5:2).  Although people in church leadership roles are called to care for the followers of Christ, it is actually the job of every believer.  If you are a friend, neighbor, parent, grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, etc., you are also supposed to participate in the care and feeding of other believers in your life, through teaching, supporting, and encouraging one another. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).  

3. What are we supposed to feed to His sheep?  All believers are to be fed the Bread of Life, which is the Word of God.  “…man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).  The entire Bible, when rightly understood, explains who God is, how He sent His Son to save us from sin and grant us salvation, and His design for us to be able to live productive lives filled with joy and peace.  We should all crave the Word of God daily as food for our souls so that we can continue to grow and mature in our faith.  Maturation is a process and is rooted in the knowledge, comprehension, and application of the life-giving principles of the Bible.  So eat it up!

“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”  ‭‭John‬ ‭21:18-23‬ ‭NKJV‬‬. Although it is human nature to compare ourselves with others, Jesus makes it clear in this passage that He wants us to deny this tendency and focus on the individual plan that He has for each of us.  Our attention and energy need to stay focused on following God’s will for our own lives, instead of getting distracted with what God’s plans are for other people.  We all have an awesome, unique, personalized plan for our lives that has been designed especially for us by our Heavenly Father.  He has endowed each of us with certain abilities and strengths, which are given to us as tools to use as we navigate through life and follow God’s plan.  Some spiritual gifts are obvious, but others may take some time to discover.  If you are not clear on what your specific strengths are, make sure to pray that God will reveal them to you, and help you to understand how you are to use your gifts for His kingdom.  You should also take the time to study the spiritual gifts discussed in the Bible (see Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 and 28-30, Ephesians 4:11, and 1 Peter 4:11).  You can obtain additional practical insight by reading a good book that helps you to identify your natural strengths, such as Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry.  It is an amazing thing to be able to identify, appreciate, and properly use your God-given talents in accordance with God’s will. 

Make sure to take the time to nurture your gifts and be thankful for them, as they were perfectly chosen for you!

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