Following Jesus means caring for and feeding others
After breakfast on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, John’s final story of Jesus records a conversation between Christ and Simon Peter. While Jesus and Peter walk the shoreline, they are followed by John, listening in on their exchange.
Jesus starts by asking Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” To which Peter responds, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”
So follows Jesus’ command, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, and Peter replies the same way. Jesus tells Peter once more, “Take care of my sheep.”
A third time Jesus asks Peter if he loves him. Three times, a complete Biblical number. At this point, Peter is hurt, deeply wounded that Jesus seems to doubt Peter’s love. Really, Jesus is emphasizing how important this charge is for his disciple.
“Feed my sheep.”
Jesus continues this time, though. He speaks to Peter about how in the future Peter will not be able to control his path as much as he could in the past. He will be led to where he doesn’t want to go. John clarifies here: Jesus is speaking of how Peter will die (crucified like Christ, but upside down because Peter knows he cannot be compared to Jesus) and how it will glorify God.
Jesus says all this, and gives one ultimate, final command – “Follow me!”
At this point, Peter notices that John is trailing them. He looks to Jesus, asking, “What about him?”
And Jesus brushes it off. “What’s it to you?” It doesn’t matter if the man is renowned for living until I return (which John and history confirm is not true), he shouldn’t be your focus. “Follow me.”
With that, John concludes his account of the Gospel. He writes that Jesus did many other things in his life, and if they were all recorded in books the tomes would be too numerous to count or contain. How amazing it is to think of how much more Jesus did in his 33 years!
Questions for discussion:
- Who are the sheep? And what does it mean to care for and feed them?
- Can you confidently say that you love Jesus? How do you show that to people every day?
- Peter compares his calling to John’s. Have you ever compared yourself to someone else? In what ways?