Feed My Sheep

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“Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?” (John 21:21).

Peter, startled and aghast at the prospect of his own death and the thrice-repeated command to feed lambs and sheep, characteristically blurts out a question that has crossed many of our minds as we labor with the unwieldy elements of human nature. We look at our friend John leaning on Jesus’ breast, seemingly care free and without the burden of tending sheep, and without the prospect of a death of infamy and disrespect, and we cry out, “What shall this man do?” Jesus was blunt in His reply, “What is that to thee?” The implication was to get busy and feed sheep.

“He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep” (John 21:16).

Within every organization is a commitment to an important principle or idea that gives the organization purpose and the vision to move forward. The Latin term modus operandi means a way of doing something, a system that we follow, even when perplexed with others’ seeming lack of commitment. The Christian’s modus operandi in life is to feed sheep, which is putting love into action.

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” There is no higher or more important calling than to love. Since this is the greatest commandment, then the greatest sin is to not love, to not serve. Feeding sheep is putting love into action and being Christ-like by our service to others.

Peter came face to face with the compelling purpose or the call on his life through the words, “Feed my lambs … feed my sheep.” Feeding sheep hinged on his love for Jesus. We cannot escape the compelling message of our responsibility to care for sheep. The spiritual modus operandi of Peter’s life was to express his love to Jesus by doing the lowly task of feeding sheep. While Peter was preaching, traveling, or otherwise engaged in responsibilities, his call was to feed sheep. Seemingly simple yet so involving is this command. If we are to love God with all our hearts, then the call to feed sheep is a call to a course of action for life.

1. Sheep are needy. They have little sense of their own need; they need to be tended, cared for, and protected.

2. Sheep are unattractive. They come with imperfections, blots, and viruses; they smell bad and are unintelligent. Their potential is grown by the care of the shepherd.

3. Feeding sheep takes humility; we realize whose sheep they are. First peter 5:3, “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” Our church government needs to be set for the care of sheep, not the protection of individual territory and influence.

4. We must know the flock. We need to be there and rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Develop caring hearts for those in the hospital. Take food to those who are hurting. Identify with the suffering. Counsel the troubled marriage and teenager. Lift them to the feed trough, bind the wounds of the marriage, pour in the ointment of respect for authority, and always remember that truth sets men free.

5. We must seek the straying and pull to safety those who have failed. Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference.” Never give up, the destinies of souls are at stake. The shepherd counts his sheep. He knows the absence of the missing lamb because he counted the sheep. The shepherd is concerned that not one sheep be missing. He cannot be indifferent toward the individuals who are straying or are in danger of straying.

6. Feeding sheep involves risk and makes one vulnerable. An artist has painted a vivid picture of a shepherd leaning over the edge of the precipice and grasping for the lamb that is just ready to fall. Many do not understand why a shepherd would risk His life for the ignorant sheep. He does it because the expression of love is to “feed my sheep.”

What shall this man do? Jesus’ answer is, “What is that to thee? follow thou me.” Feed the sheep, be there for the sheep, tend the sheep, love the sheep, save the sheep, protect the sheep, counsel the sheep, and even die for the sheep.

1 Peter 5:4, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

~ Columbiana OH
August 2012