Feed My Sheep – John 21:15-17 (NRSV)
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt 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.
There were seven of them at the gathering that night, biding their time until Jesus appeared. I imagine that Peter grew weary of waiting and announced to the group – you know Peter—, “I’m going fishing.” And the others followed suit. Scripture says, “They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing” (John 21:30). But then, just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach. He told them to cast their net to the right side of the boat, and they would find some fish. So they cast it, and when they did, they caught so many fish, they were not able to haul them all in.
During this after-breakfast encounter, Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep,” starting in John 21:15. In Jesus’ day, more than 90% of the people lived in extreme poverty. Not only were the people not getting enough to eat physically, but God’s people were also starving spiritually. They were in a spiritual food desert. I imagine that Peter wanted to comply with the master’s demands. But he probably had questions. One of them may have been this: If physical food won’t satisfy, what should I feed them, Lord? The answer was and is to nourish them with the Word of God!
When Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil, the tempter told Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” And Jesus responded, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” It occurs to me that there are so many things in scripture that could be used to feed and nourish those who are spiritually hungry.
Jesus told the people, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal”(John 6:27). He said: For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (John 6:33). Then he told them: “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35).
Later, we see that Jesus not only wants to be the meal. Jesus wants to share the meal.
In Revelation 3:20, the Son of Man said: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and answer, I will come in and eat with them and they with me.” Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is ready to feed you today. Just answer the door and say, “yes.”