The Lord Jesus is my Shepherd. (Psalm 23)
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Good and Beautiful Shepherd. (see John 10)
His sheep follow him.
As I was following Him around 45 years ago, He called me to be a pastor-teacher, to feed His sheep.
Like Peter’s, my love is far from perfect. (see John 21)
Do you love (ἀγάπη agápē) me?
Lord, I love (φιλία philía) you.
Feed my lambs.
Tend my sheep.
The final time: Do you love (φιλία philía) me?
If that’s all you can muster, I’ll work with it:
Feed my sheep.
Honestly, my heart is too often like a dried, shriveled, cracked, stiff, worthless old wineskin, incapable of holding any wine. I love God. I love Jesus. I love people, especially those who are broken and hurting, but my heart is incapable of loving unconditionally.
Nevertheless, just as Jesus healed the man with the withered hand in the synagogue (see Mark 3), telling him to stretch it out, so, I pray He will touch my withered heart and stretch and heal and transform it into a supple bladder that He can safely fill continuously with the new wine of His Spirit.
The only reason I can think of as to why God would want me to feed His sheep is because He chooses the weak and foolish things, the people that are big zeroes, to confound those wise in their own eyes.
So, in spite of myself, I am a shepherd.
No, Jesus is the shepherd.
I’m more like a sheepdog.
We once had an Old McDonald type farm in Colorado with horses, chickens, dogs, cats, goats, sheep, a duck, and great-horned owls. Coyotes threatened the sheep. Sheep are defenseless – they can’t run fast to get away, and they have no ability to fight back. So, we were advised to get a sheep dog.
That’s when David Dog entered our family – a huge, white Great Pyrenees who thought he was one of the family. I’m told that if you take a Great Pyrenees puppy and put it with the ewes and lambs, it will nurse from a ewe and grow up thinking she or he is a sheep, but with a strong canine instinct to protect the flock. Now, we didn’t do that. My wife and daughter loved on David Dog and all he wanted was to live in the house. But the other way theoretically works.
I sometimes think of myself as a David Dog. We apprentices only have one Master. We sheep only have one Shepherd. We disciples only have one Lord. We created beings only have one God. We all have different roles in the flock/family/kingdom of God. No role is more important than any other. There’s no hierarchy, no clergy-laity division. The way up is down. The greatest is the servant of all, the one who washes feet.
But God has called me to be a pastor-teacher. Not a CEO. Not a fund-raiser. Not chief of marketing. My calling, my assignment from God, is to spiritually protect the people of God, pray for the people of God, and teach the people of God, pointing them continuously to the Shepherd, leading them past myself into His loving arms.
And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. (Jeremiah 3:15)
Peter (Larry), do you love Me, even imperfectly?
Feed My sheep.
Greek has four words translated “love” in English. The two used in John 21 are (ἀγάπη agápē), which means perfect, divine, unconditional, cruciform, self-sacrificing, enemy-forgiving love, and (φιλία philía), which means deep friendship, brotherly or sisterly love.
I Corinthians 1:27-29
“LORD” here is YHWH
Quotations are from the ESV Text Edition® (2016).The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) is adapted from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. All rights reserved.