Tend My Sheep
Tony R. Nester
Today's Scripture from the Gospel of John shows us that Jesus' followers didn't know what to do with the resurrection of Jesus. Since that first Easter evening they had been having incredible experiences of the Risen Christ. Jesus would appear to them, sometimes in rooms with locked doors, sometimes along a pathway on a public road, and then disappear from their sight. But what were they supposed to do? What was supposed to happen next?
Peter takes the lead. He decides it's time to go back to what they had been doing before Jesus called them into discipleship: he goes fishing. But once again Jesus appears and everything changes for Peter. The story is from John 21:1-19.
I want to focus on Jesus' words to Peter. They are part of Peter's restoration. He had denied Jesus three times, and now Jesus elicits from Peter a three-fold declaration of love. And with Peter's love, Jesus gives Peter the direction for his future. He says to Peter: "Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep."
Why this emphasis on tending sheep? What's going on here? Jesus is concerned about the future life of his followers. He knows they need tending, and he directs Peter to undertake the task of tending, feeding, nurturing, caring for, Jesus' followers. Why?
Even the incredible experience of the resurrection would dissipate unless believer were cared for. Without feeding and tending anyone's spiritual life will fade away.
It's not at all uncommon for someone to have a deeply moving spiritual experience and at that sincerely desire to live a life that knows God's presence and honors God's will. And then, in a matter of weeks, perhaps months, the experience is only a memory and the desire for God has retreated from that person's consciousness.
THE UN-TENDED CHRISTIAN LIFE IS BOUND FOR EXTINCTION. That's why Jesus gave Peter the directive to feed and tend and sheep.
There's an old story about a Scottish preacher who went to v ...
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