Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” —John 21:17
On that dark night of Jesus’ arrest, people ask Peter three times if he knows or associates with Jesus. Three times, Peter says no, and each time his heart must break a little more.
Jesus, always knowing what we need, gives Peter the same number of chances to heal the situation. But Peter, as usual, seems slow on the uptake. Jesus’ questions sound redundant, and they are ones to which Jesus should already know the answers. Three times Jesus asks if Peter loves him. Three times Peter, exasperated, affirms what Jesus already knows. Three times Jesus requests a task of him.
“Feed my lambs.” The ones most vulnerable, Peter, come first. Whatever else you do, put my lambs first on your to-do list. The children, the marginalized, the downtrodden, the outcast need special protection.
“Tend my sheep.” These sheep are maturing lambs who are learning to steady their legs and move about on their own. Their curiosity and eagerness to get out into the fold and find what is there marks them as ones who have begun to grow in the faith. With the right guidance, they will continue to go in the proper direction.
“Feed my sheep.” These are the rams and the ewes who have matured; but to ensure their survival, their productivity, they will still need guidance, a watchful eye or two. Left to their own devices, they may wander off track.
All sheep need a shepherd. Sheep tend to keep their heads down, walking and nibbling at the grass with little concern as to direction. A faithful Shepherd makes sure that they do not nibble themselves away.
—John F. C. Dornheim*
Loving Shepherd, forgive me when I turn away from you. Help me to listen to your whispers and to obey your small nudgings. Thank you for the tender care that has kept me this far. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
If you too love Jesus, how are you feeding his lambs? How are you tending and feeding his sheep?
Credits: *From The Upper Room Disciplines 2013: A Book of Daily Devotions. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Link above is to the current 2015 edition.
This and the other devotionals for this Lenten Series can be found at the following link: http://www.thegodwecanknow.com/category/50-devotions/page/3/