15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Jn. 21:15-17
Jesus could have asked Peter if Peter loved Him and after Peter had answered in the affirmative, Jesus could simply have told him, “Wonderful! I am so happy to hear that. Continue loving Me.”
Such a conversation would have been perfectly all right since Jesus is worthy of our love. The only problem comes when we are called upon to put that love into action. For that reason we do not see Jesus thanking Peter for declaring his love for Him, nor do we see Him encouraging Peter to continue in that mode. On the contrary, Jesus wanted to make sure Peter understood what it meant to love Him.
“If you love Me”, Jesus said, “feed my sheep”.
Notice that in the first instance Jesus refers to His church as “lambs”. This speaks of the tenderness with which Jesus regards the church.
“Feed my lambs”.
“Feed my sheep”.
Peter could only prove that He loved the Lord by feeding His sheep.
Do you know that Jesus loves the church more than He does His own life? Even now, as He sits at the right hand of the Father, He is making intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). Jesus never does anything for Himself. He does everything for His sheep, the church. Jesus loves His sheep so much! He is truly the Good Shepherd.
That’s not exactly like us. Much of the time, after I have preached or done some ministry, all I want to do is to have a long, cold drink and stretch out on some sofa. Having done the Lord’s work I feel a great sense of accomplishment, and I always come away feeling that I deserve something at the very least.
And, along that same vein, I can imagine exactly what would happen if it was us in Jesus’ place in heaven. With the attitudes that we often carry, it would be a completely different story. Aside from demanding our right to rest and to be ministered to in various other ways, we would also get very, very angry if news began filtering in that the people we just died for on earth had begun messing up their lives. It wouldn’t be long before we told God, “Father, I give up. Just nuke them with the rest!”
That’s us, when we have not the love of God in us. But Jesus would not do that, for He is love. That is why, immediately He accomplished our redemption here on earth and was taken up to heaven, He sat at the right hand of the Father and began making intercession for us. The Bible says He is making intercession for us even right now (Heb. 7:25). And that is a lot of intercession He is making. Just think of how much you sin every day!
And Jesus does all this out of love. He does not do it out of law (He would have died long ago of fatigue!) Jesus loves His church. That is why He makes intercession for us.
He takes care of the church in many other ways. Jesus does feed His sheep!
I am just imagining that if all the people who say “I love you, Jesus” every day were to fulfill the second part of the instructions that Jesus gave to Peter, to feed His sheep, what a strong entity the church would be today! What a loving, blessed, caring atmosphere there would be in the church today!
[A church wedding in Singida Town]