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What does ‘feed my lambs’ mean?

When Jesus asks Peter to “feed my lambs” after he’s been resurrected (John 21:15), he’s not talking about engaging them in a Bible study. Very few people were ever able to read back then, and there were very few copies of Scripture. When Jesus told Peter (who is a type of medieval Everyman – a s…
By Seth Barnes

sheep 2When Jesus asks Peter to “feed my lambs” after he’s been resurrected (John 21:15), he’s not talking about engaging them in a Bible study. Very few people were ever able to read back then, and there were very few copies of Scripture.

When Jesus told Peter (who is a type of medieval Everyman – a stand-in for all of us) “take care of my sheep,” he’s talking about the process of discipling them, of growing them up.

Too often when we think about being fed spiritually, we refer to sitting through a sermon. Periodically I’ll hear someone say, “I haven’t been fed much lately.” This is code for, “The Pastor’s sermons are not connecting with me.” This is a passive picture of feeding. Like a baby is spoon-fed.

We see a more accurate concept of feeding sheep in Jesus’ picture description of a shepherd and sheep in John 10. The shepherd calls them out and the sheep listen to his voice.

We see a third party in John 10 – the watchman who “opens the gate” for Jesus to speak and to call them out. It would seem his main job is to be on the lookout for enemies and teach the sheep to listen to the shepherd’s voice. John 10:4 says, “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” It is Jesus himself who feeds his sheep.

If as disciplers and pastors we’re not teaching our sheep to recognize Jesus’ voice, they inevitably will go hungry.

 

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