Feed My Sheep
The third time Jesus said to Peter, “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
While the kids and I were away on our Spring Break trip, Jamey (who had to stay home because of work), got to deal with our goat who gave birth to triplets! We had been hoping she would have the babies either before we left, or after our return home, but on the first full day of our trip, there were new babies in the barn! They are healthy and have a wonderful mama. We are so thankful. The fact that she is producing enough milk to feed three kids, means our goat needs a lot of food! So since we returned, I’ve been feeding her twice a day. It is a chore of love and brings me so much joy to see those happy little ones snuggled up together in the morning and to tuck them into the barn each evening to keep them safe from predators.
When Jesus reinstated Peter after his denial of even knowing him, his question was, “Do you love me?” The task which followed the affirmation was to “feed my sheep”. Jesus and Peter entered this exchange three times to overcome his three denials. It wasn’t enough to just say, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Peter also had a job to do. When we say we love someone, it is felt, experienced and expressed not only through our words, but also through our actions.
Some of us find acts of service to be particularly meaningful and receive love from those things. Other people receive love more through the words of affirmation they receive, or gifts, or spending quality time together. When Jesus said to “feed my sheep” he wasn’t just telling Peter that the only way to show love is by his actions. But it sure makes a difference in how the world sees us when we act on what we profess to believe. The obstacle we often face when sharing our faith with other people is the fact that Christians have been complicit in sexual misconduct, financial abuse, and racism. It is difficult for the rest of the world to believe we honestly love Christ and love others as he commanded us to when so much hypocrisy has taken place. As we strive to be the heart and hands of Jesus Christ in this lonely and hurting world, may we be faithful in loving Christ and loving the world… feeding his sheep.
Lord God, in the light of your glory we see the evil we have done, the suffering we have caused, the good we have refused, and the truth we have denied. Heal us of our sin, wash us in your mercy, feed us with your grace, and restore us, so that we may follow your way, feeding your sheep and telling the good news of the gospel. Amen.