Sunday, August 28, 2011

Feed My Sheep

Today I read John 21, the last chapter in the book of John. In this chapter we have a peculiar event between the Lord and Peter which has always made me wonder just what it was all about. After the Lord had appeared to His Apostles, Peter and a few others went fishing. They fished all night and did not catch anything at all. As they are finishing for the day, or night as it were, Jesus approaches them and from the shore tells them where to cast their nets after they tell Him that they have not caught anything. When they cast the net where He tells them to, they cannot pull up the net because of the amount of fishes in the net. This act reveals to John that it is Jesus and He tells Peter.

As miracles go, this one seems like it would be pretty simple. I would imagine telling 153 fish to all congregate on the right side of their ship would be much easier than the miracle of the loaves and fishes. When John realizes it's Jesus he tells Peter who, impulsive as ever, jumps into the water and swims to shore. The others merely sail back in, only being out 200 cubits, or around a football field, out to sea. When they get to shore they find that Jesus has a fire going a with some fish cooking on it. None of them seem surprised by this fact and sit down to eat with the Savior.

Now, as they are eating, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than the fish. When Peter answers in the affirmative Jesus tells him to feed His lambs. Jesus then asks 2 more times if Peter loves Him and each time when Peter says yes, Jesus replies to feed His sheep. Now, I have heard that in the original Greek, each time Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him, a different form of the work love is used. I do not know where I have heard this and do not know if it is true or not. I have personally always thought that if Peter was not instructed by the Lord to deny Him to save his life, perhaps this is Jesus' gentle rebuke to Peter. Peter denied the Lord 3 times so now Jesus is asking Peter 3 times if he loves Him.

This scene has always reminded me of John 14:15, where Jesus says if you love Him, keep His commandments. This is very similar in that if Peter loves Jesus, he will feed His sheep, or care for His disciples. And this goes for all of us really. If we love and follow the Savior, we will do as He taught and do as He did, we will care for the poor and needy around us. If we are truly His disciples, we will try and emulate what He did with His life and will try and do as He taught. We will not live a hedonistic lifestyle but will instead live a lifestyle in keeping with the principles the Savior taught and lived Himself.

It is no wonder why John is the only one to include this story in his Gospel. For one thing, he was one of only 6 people that was even there, but more importantly, remember that John was writing to those who were already Christian and converted to Jesus Christ. His audience would be the only one who could understand that this command from Jesus was not to Peter alone, but to all of us. We are all commanded to feed His sheep, or in other words, to care for those in need wherever they may be. It is one of our sacred duties to care for the poor and sick and the afflicted. Unfortunately most of us conveniently seem to forget that when it comes time to assist those in need.

When it comes time to stand before the Savior to be judged, our actions are going to count while our words will not. I promise that if we tell the Savior that yes we are converted but we spent all our time focusing on ourselves and neglecting our families and those in need we will hear about it and we will be ashamed of ourselves. None of us want to be in that position and truly if we we are converted to the Lord, we will not be in that position, we will want to do as Jesus would if He were here. We must first convert ourselves, then we need to focus on those around us, that is the formula. If we can do that, then we have nothing to worry about and we will stand proudly before the Lord. Until tomorrow.

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