This coming Sunday is often referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Associated with this Sunday is the 23rd Psalm often called the “Good Shepherd Psalm.” So what’s with all the shepherd themes?
Consider that during Jesus’ time a shepherd was a person of importance. The shepherd was responsible for caring for large numbers of sheep. Sheep were an important staple of the time and often helped to define the wealth of the owner. On a number of occasions Jesus used the example of sheep and the shepherd to teach his disciples and others about God’s love through Jesus for each of us. The shepherd is so caring of his flock that he would lay down his life for a single sheep.
John, Chapter 21 describes one encounter between Jesus and the disciples. The disciples had been fishing without success when Jesus appeared on the shore and asked them if they had caught any fish. They told him “no” and he told them to cast their nets again and the Bible says they filled the net with fish. Here, another symbolic illustration that without Jesus, we will not be successful in reaching others, casting our faith and sharing the glory of the gospel.
Later, Jesus shared a meal with the disciples and this is where Jesus asks Peter the question over and over as follows:
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”” (John 21:15-19 ESV).
I’m sure that Peter was a bit frustrated and confused. What was Jesus asking him to do? As was the case many times, Jesus had to provide an explanation to his disciples. So, you may ask, what this has to do with you on this Good Shepherd Sunday?
If we love Jesus we will feed his sheep. In this case, we will care for his people. The care could literally be feeding and shelter but more importantly feeding others the good news of salvation and sharing the love of God. That is what Jesus was telling Peter and the other disciples and that is what he shares with us through the Spirit every single day. If you love Jesus, tend to his sheep.
May the peace and love of Jesus Christ be with you as you travel through this week.