Fruit of the Spirit, Love

The Shepherd

John 21:17

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep”.

This was the third time that Jesus had appeared to the disciples following His resurrection. Seven of them had been out fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus was waiting for them on the shore as dawn was breaking and He had made breakfast for them. When they had finished eating, the Lord asked Simon if he loved Him more than the others did. He answered, ‘Yes Lord, you know that I love you’. The Lord then instructed Simon to ‘feed my lambs’. He then asked the same question a second time and received the same response. The instruction that followed was ‘tend my sheep’. Simon was deeply upset to be asked a third time if he loved the Lord; his answer hadn’t changed. This time the instruction was ‘feed my sheep’.

The love that Simon Peter had for the Lord was the foundation on which his mission would stand. The Lord was entrusting Peter with His flock.

Feed my lambs… The people that followed Jesus over the last three years needed someone to continue teaching them God’s word. They were young in their faith and there would be new converts who would also need sound teaching.

Tend my sheep… This was more than just being a teacher. The word pŏimainō refers to the whole process of shepherding. The Lord was asking Peter to guide them and guard them, to provide for them and protect them.

Feed my sheep… This was a long-term assignment. Peter was being asked to care for the Lord’s followers as they grew and developed in the faith.

Loving the Lord means committing to His service and showing that love as we care for, encourage and support our brothers and sisters in Christ.

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