Let’s say that we conduct a survey of every Christian in America, asking, “What do you believe is the number one duty for church pastors?”
Do you have any ideas on what their responses might be?
Well, I would guess that 95% of the Christians would say something like, “Feeding the sheep.” And of course, what this really means is, “Pastor, bring on the sermons.”
What’s the scriptural logic behind this answer?
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to him, “Lord, You know all things; you know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” (John 21:17 NKJ)
Out of this single discourse between a newly resurrected Jesus and a broken, discouraged Peter has grown the tradition of pastors preaching sermons in today’s traditional churches. So ingrained is this tradition that few of us even question its scriptural validity.
But wait a second! What was Peter’s calling? Pastor. No!
Peter was one of the original twelve apostles, chosen to be a part of the foundation for the Church, with Jesus being the corner stone. He was never a pastor, restricted to a local assembly; but instead, He was a traveling, church-planting apostle. This is an important point, one which is usually overlooked when this section of scripture is studied.
So, what was Jesus’ main purpose in His “Feed My sheep” discourse with Peter?
I believe our Lord’s main purpose was restoring and reconfirming the apostolic calling on Peter’s life. Do you want to know why I believe this? The answer can be found in a prophecy spoken by Jesus to Peter a few days earlier:
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. (Luke 22: 31-32 NKJ)
How would you like to receive a prophetic word like this? And then, have it come to pass? Wouldn’t you be so discouraged that you’d believe your calling had been tossed out of the windows of heaven? Forever and ever!
This particular discourse between Jesus and Peter is the most personal and intimate conversation recorded in the New Testament. It reveals the compassion and love the Head of the Church has for an individual and his unique calling.
But yes, there are some other scriptures with a “Feed the sheep” theme.
(Continued in Part 16).