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. 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!”
When I was young and would go out with my friends over the weekends, I remember my mother always reminding my friends and I to drive safely. We would nod our heads or say yes, dismissively thinking that she was being over protective or pedantic. But then it happened, my mother’s worst nightmare and the furthest thing from my mind, we crashed our car one evening. The car rolled, and a few of us landed up in hospital.
By the grace of God, no one was seriously injured, but we no longer thought we were indispensable. The warning my mother gave us every time we left the house became a reality! If only, we remembered her warnings and took her words to heart rather than being dismissive.
In this passage, Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves Him. You get the feeling that Peter gets rather irritated or dismissive of the constant questioning. He doesn’t fully understand what Jesus is calling him to do. Of course, he loves Jesus, but does he fully understand what that means?
Jesus tells Peter that he needs to ‘Feed His lambs’, ‘Take care of His sheep’, ‘Feed His sheep’. You see, committing ourselves to the Lord means ‘action’. We cannot say we love and want to follow Him and then dismiss His instructions in the same way that my friends and I responded to my mother’s instructions. No, our response has eternal consequences for all of God’s people. Jesus wants us to look after and feed His people through proclaiming God’s Word to one another so that we can grow in our love and maturity in Him! You see, our love for Jesus needs to reflect in us by continuing the work He started. This is our purpose, mandate and ultimate demonstration of our love for Him.
And just like Peter, we can expect sacrifice. For Peter it was his life, for you it is the same too! It may means facing persecution or being ridicule for sharing the truth about Jesus. No matter what the consequences are, proclaiming the oracles of God brings glory to Him and continues the work that He has planned for us through Jesus Christ!
You go to church each Sunday, maybe even twice. You read your Bible and attend weekly Bible Studies. If asked, you would proudly declare that you love God. But if you ask yourself whether you are truly doing what He says, could you say with confidence that you are feeding God’s people with His word and looking after one another as a family? Let’s not be dismissive of God’s calling. Pray that God’s instructions are written on your heart and that your deepest desire would be to bring the Gospel to God’s people.
I was dismissive of my mother’s instruction. I took for granted that I was ‘safe’ and never considered that in order to carry out the instruction I needed to take action by wearing a seatbelt and making sure we’re driving the speed limit. Not taking action made those promises to my mom empty. So, let us not say that we love God and not show it in our actions and obedience to His instructions.