Daily Devotion - January 23, 2021 - Feed My Sheep

Pastor: Connie Belmore

Daily Devotion – January 23, 2021
Reading:
John 21:15-19
Weekly Theme: The Call to Ministry
Today: Feed My Sheep

Several years ago, the youth director at my church was leaving to attend seminary and asked to meet with all the youth volunteers before he departed. As one of those volunteers, I attended the meeting as requested. We met at a restaurant that we all loved and shared a meal together. At the end of our time together, he read today’s passage and then began to pass pennies to each of us. The gesture was symbolic but the message he left with us was clear. He told us to “feed my sheep”! The youth director was trying to convey the message of Jesus when he told his disciples to do the same. My friend did not do this thinking we could do a whole lot with a penny but rather to send them message that we each should take whatever God has given us and feed his sheep. These are words that we hear and often dismiss as something very profound that Jesus said. But Jesus did not just say them, he lived them, and he intended (and intends) for his disciples, then and now, to do the same.

What does this phrase really mean? Throughout the Gospel it is obvious that Jesus has a heart for those who hunger and wants them to be fed and uses sheep as a reference for all those people who follow him. But figuratively Jesus meant for us to feed his sheep physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually. Feed them food, but also feed them words of hope and encouragement, and feed them the very Word of God. Jesus’ call to ‘feed my sheep’ is our response as we show how Jesus how much we love him. He first asked Peter, “Do you love me?” using the Greek word, agape, to describe sacrificial love. Peter replied first “Yes Lord, you know I love you” but in his reply he used the Greek word phileo which is the love we express for a brother or dear friend. Jesus asks again using the same verb, agape. And again Peter responded in much the same way, “you know that I love you”. Peter had a history of denying Jesus and was probably afraid to express the deepest kind of love that Jesus expects from his disciples. Peter had learned a lesson from his denial of Jesus and now Jesus is going to entrust him with this task, trusting that Peter will go forward with a sacrificial love for Jesus and a passion to love and feed Jesus’ sheep.

We know that Peter did go on to have and show his unconditional love for Jesus as he wrote later in his epistle to early Christians to “Shepherd God’s flock among you...not lording it over to those entrusted to you but being examples to the flock”. Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus three times just prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, is now taking full responsibility for caring for his flock and encouraging the church leaders he is over to do the same and shepherd God’s flock by assuming personal responsibility by being good examples themselves. Peter later lost his life through crucifixion because he glorified God. How far do we go or will we go to feed Jesus’s sheep? How much do we really love Jesus? Is our love for Jesus sacrificial or brotherly?

Dear God, thank you for the example set forth by Jesus and instilled in his first disciples to love others sacrificially and to further make disciples in the same way...by example. Help us to love you – God Almighty Lord Jesus Holy Spirit – in a sacrificial way and to set an example for others. In Your mighty name we pray. Amen.

 
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