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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

Feeding Lambs

The passage in John 21 where Jesus reinstates Peter has been living in my head rent-free since Easter. Before Jesus' betrayal and death, Pete had insisted he would be loyal to Jesus until the end- only to deny him three times when the pressure turned up. In John 21 we see

the resurrected Jesus take Peter aside and put his finger on this point of shame and call Peter into new levels of selfless service to God and others.

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep."

There is so much to dig into in this passage, but for this blog I want to focus on Jesus' call to pivot away from self-love, self-sufficiency and self- preservation. Jesus says love me, serve others and give your life away for this cause. When Peter denied Jesus on the eve of his death, I'm sure so many fears and emotions were swirling around his head. To identify with Christ would mean to potentially share the same fate; to deny him meant Peter would live to see another day. Self-preservation isn't a bad thing; it's very human to want to protect yourself from alienation, discomfort and pain. But in following Jesus, we are called to surmount the pull of self-preservation.

Jesus' insisted that Peter take care of his followers. "Feed my lambs." "Take care of my sheep." "Feed my sheep." This was more than Jesus asking him a favor, Jesus was reminding Peter that he had work to do. It wasn't time to go back to the life he knew before following Christ (being a fisherman); he had a higher calling.

Today, in my life, Jesus asks, "Do you love me more than these?" Do you love me more than the pull to put yourself first? Do you love me more than comfort and convenience? Will you feed my lambs? Will you protect the innocent? Will you forget your former life, moving ever deeper into the waters of selflessness?

To Peter, Jesus issued a warning. "18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Unlike Peter, it is unlikely we will be martyred for our faith. But there is a death in our nature that takes place when we pick up our crosses to follow. Our nature says to look out for number one. It says to do what we've gotta do to survive. It puts limits on how, who and when we will serve. Agape love, the selfless love of God, is what empowers us to choose selflessness, choose others first and walk the path that Christ took. The ministry I work for, Agape International Missions, is named after the kind of love that forsakes all else in service to the least of these; the lambs.

Like Peter, you may already have decided to drop your nets and follow Jesus, but along the way the cost of following got pretty steep and you faltered. Maybe you turned back to your former life. Maybe you denied Jesus in your heart, words or life choices.

You may have walked away, but Jesus still calls you. He calls you because you have a destiny you can't achieve on your own. You'll never get there by choosing comfort or choosing self. Will you feed His lambs? Will you follow?

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1 Comment

Apr 16

Strong words bathed in gentleness. Thank you for the nudge. 💛

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