John 21.15-17 cont.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said (says) to Simon Peter: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
He said (says) to Him: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You”. He said (says) to Him: “Feed My lambs”.
16 Again He (Jesus) said (says) to him a second time: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said (says) to Him: “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You”. He said (says) to him: “Shepherd My sheep”.
17 A third time Jesus said (says) to him: “Simon, son of John: “Do you have affection for Me?” Peter was irritated because He said to Him a third time: “Do you love Me? So he said to Him: “Lord, You know all things, You know that I love You. Jesus said to him: “Feed My sheep“.
Jesus completes the restoration of Peter by giving him the task of looking after the flock of Jesus.
The lambs and the sheep are the possession of Jesus; they do not belong to any individual. Jesus said: “Feed MY lambs”; ”Shepherd MY sheep”
The flock of lambs and sheep are those for whom Jesus laid down His life; He said that He was going to do this:
15 “Just as the Father knows Me I also know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” – John 10.15.
Each one of us who receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour is bought by the price of the blood of Jesus, and we are brought into the flock of God.
The Psalmist also knew that we are sheep belonging to God:
Acknowledge that the LORD is God! He made us, and we are His. We are His people, the sheep of His pasture – Psalm 100.3 (NLT).
Those whom Jesus gives to Peter to shepherd are the ones who belong to Him. They were not, and neither would they become the possession of Peter. This is an important thing to understand so that a controlling spirit can be avoided.
It is a very unfortunate fact that throughout the history of the church there have arisen cults that view their followers as their possession, insisting on being obeyed in all things. In recent times this has been described as ‘heavy shepherding’.
The commission of Jesus to Peter is that he was being given the task of feeding the lambs and sheep of Jesus. This is an essential part of all pastoral ministry, and it is done through the preaching and explanation of God’s word. It is done through the example of pastors leading a Spirit filled life.
Jesus restored Peter to be a guide (shepherd) and provider of spiritual food for lambs and sheep that belonged to Jesus. He was called to provide the food that comes from Heaven, the new manna.
Jesus continues to give the gift of pastors to the church, with the same responsibilities that He gave to Peter.