Our text takes place during the post-resurrection ministry of the Lord, specifically when Peter denied the Lord three times. After His resurrection, Jesus appeared unto His disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and it was at this time that He ministered unto Peter. The Lord had a tremendous ministry in mind for Peter, who had walked with Jesus for three and one-half years and had learned a lot, yet he had much more to learn. The importance of Jesus’ ministry to Peter at this time cannot be overstated. It would launch the ministry of one of the most important ministries of the Early Church.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs.
Jesus’ response to Peter’s answer is interesting. He didn’t say, “Oh, bless you, Peter! I know you love Me, so I bless you!” Instead, Jesus gave Peter a job to do – “Feed My lambs! If you love Me, be a feeder!” That is also what the Lord is saying to us. It is time for us to become feeders - not feeders of doctrines, but feeders of His life.
The priority of the ministry of the Word is the impartation of His life. Information is important but not as important as the impartation of the life and Spirit of the Lord. As members of the Body of Christ it is our responsibility to be feeders of His life. You cannot minister His life to others if you have not first partaken of His life yourself. Appropriation must precede impartation.
The commission of the Lord to Peter is also a commission to the Body of Christ. He says, “Feed My lambs!” The lambs are the immature ones. It is with great care that we are to feed the lambs of God’s people. So the Lord asks us as He did Peter, “Do you love Me?” The ministry of feeding the lambs must come out of a great love for the Lord.
John 21:16-17 He saith
to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith
unto Him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep.
“Lord, You know I love you. I want Your will more than anything.” “Then get off the soul realm of self-centeredness and feed My sheep. Feed them My life!”
The Lord is telling us to feed His sheep. He says it three times because we didn’t really hear it or know how. Have you noticed that when God gives you a job to do, you don’t really know how to do it? I told the Lord the other day, “God I don’t have enough faith for that.” Blessed is the man that has enough sense to know he doesn’t have enough faith to do what the Lord has commanded. “But we are going to do His will by faith.” If it gets done, it won’t be by your faith. It will be by His faith working through you.
Romans 12:3 says that God has given every man a measure of faith. Do you know what a measure of faith is? It is limited faith. Every time the Lord lays something before you, you will not have enough faith to get it done. He purposes it that way. He doesn’t want you doing it in yourself with your own ability. What He sets before you will always require more faith than what you have. Therefore, you will have to reach into Him and appropriate some more. It has to be His faith working through you. Listen to what Paul says. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Galatians 2:20. It has to be His faith working through you.
The Lord will constantly lay things before you for which your faith is inadequate. That is what causes you to grow. You will not appropriate more faith if you can get by with what you already have. The continuance of appropriating the life of the Lord is what will enable you to feed His life to the sheep.
John 21:18-19 Verily,
verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and
walkest whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch
forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou
19 This spake He, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He saith unto him, Follow Me.
Jesus is not talking about Peter’s natural death, but of a spiritual death that he may feed the sheep. It is a death to his self-life. When you are young, an immature Christian, you go and do according to your own wishes. When you grow old, become a mature Christian, another will gird you – that is, the Lordship of Christ will gird you and you will be led in a way you would not have gone before. Instead of doing your own thing, you will be dedicated to the will of God. It is this emptying out of self that will enable the Life of the Lord to flow through you, and that is how His sheep will be fed.
Copyright © 2003 by Henry DuBose