April 26, 2014

Feed My Sheep

John 21:15-19

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
—John 21:17


It’s hard to miss the repetition in these verses. Three times Jesus asks essentially the same question. Three times Simon Peter answers in a similar way. Three times Jesus responds with nearly the same command.

“Simon … do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

“Feed my sheep.”

In this triple exchange between Jesus and Peter, we hear a note of grace. We are reminded that when Jesus was arrested, Peter denied his Lord three times, just as Jesus said he would. Three times Peter disconnected himself from Jesus and claimed he did not know him. Now, after Jesus’ resurrection, the Lord gives Peter another chance. Three times Jesus gives Peter an opportunity to express his love for him. And three times, Peter does. What a gift!

But Jesus gives even more than a second chance. He also gives a command.

Jesus gives Peter the responsibility to graciously tend the sheep of Jesus’ flock. I’ve heard that a good way to summarize Jesus’ three commands is this: Take really good care of the people I place in your path.

Of course, the command isn’t only for Peter. It’s for all of us! Jesus says to you today, “Take really good care of the people I place in your path.”

Tender Shepherd, thank you for being the God of second chances. Help us to embrace the calling you give us to care for the people you place in our paths. We pray in your name. Amen.

About the author — Ruth Boven

Ruth Boven serves as minister of congregational life at LaGrave Ave. CRC in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She and her husband, Greg, have two adult children. They find rich purpose in urban ministry and delight in enjoying the wonders of God's good creation.

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