Posted by: cindybythesea | April 25, 2010

Feed My Sheep

A farmer brings food to wintering sheep 

I wanted to follow-up my previous post “Gone Fishing” with something the Lord impressed on me this morning. I was reading from John chapter 21 where Jesus tells Peter, to feed my sheep.  This is a very beautiful and poignant piece of scripture which takes place in the days following the crucifixion.  In this passage, we find Peter and some of the disciples after the Lord’s death, returning to the only thing they know – fishing.  Confused, forlorn, and unsure of how to proceed in his absence, they return to the thing they know best.  Of all the disciples, Peter is undoubtedly the saddest – full of self-doubt, shame and remorse, the words – “I tell you, I don’t know him”  echo over and over in his mind as he waits the night out hoping for a catch of fish.

 In reading this passage, I realized how relevant it is to me.  I could see in myself some of the same things that Peter had experienced.  For those of you who have read my brief bio, you know that I came to Hawaii under difficult circumstances.  Difficult circumstances which were actually a divorce -one not of my choosing.  In brief, my husband of 25 years, just prior to our 25th wedding anniversary decided he wanted to be single and free to pursue other interests. This was as you can imagine, devastating for me as we were both Christians, active in lay ministry and teaching for many years and I had always considered our relationship to be very good.  Divorce was something unthinkable – taboo; not in my vocabulary.  I was confused, upset, perplexed, and angry to put it mildly and I couldn’t understand how this could be happening to me.  We had always had a great relationship and God had used our family and ministry in so many wonderful ways, it was just inconceivable to me that God could allow this to happen.  I remember at the time, wanting God to fix everything, to make it all go away, and when my prayers were not answered the way I wanted, I became embittered and disillusioned. The pain and shame of the divorce was more than I could bear and I spent the next few years confused, angry and in self-imposed exile in Hawaii. 

 ++++++++++

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize it was Jesus.  He called out to them Friends, haven’t you any fish?’  ‘No they answered.  He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’  John 21:4-6

I love how this passage begins, Jesus standing on the shore calling out to them.  Not with words of condemnation, but, addressing them as friends.  At first they don’t recognize him, but, when Peter finally realizes it is Jesus who has called out to them, he excitedly jumps from the boat and starts swimming to shore.  Overcome with joy at seeing the Lord,  all previous thoughts of fear and failure fade and the only thing he can think of is getting to shore as fast as he can.  When he finally reaches the shore, he finds that Jesus has built a welcoming fire and already has a breakfast of fish and bread waiting for them. What a wonderful meal it must have been. Enjoying the food and fellowship, chatting about fishing and family and this n’ that, but, after breakfast Jesus speaks to directly to Peter, asking him,  “Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”  Again Jesus said, “Simon, son of John do you truly love me?”  He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”  The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

 Jesus knowing Peters heart asks him three times whether he loves him.  Of course, Jesus already knew the answer, knew that Peter does love him, so, why would he query him so?  Is Jesus trying to shame him, to make an example of him in front of the others?  I don’t think so.  In looking closely at this passage, I believe it is because Jesus knows that Peter feels he is a failure, feels like he has blown it so badly, that he could never be used by God again.  But, Jesus thinks otherwise and with the gentle persistence of these questions, helps Peter to see it as well.  Peter, feed my lambs; Peter, take care of my sheep; Peter, feed my sheep.  All of these terms of feeding and taking care of sheep have to do with ministry, ministering to the flock.  I believe, what Jesus is doing here is re-establishing the call he has on Peter’s life.  Re-establishing his ministry.  For what is taking care of the flock, but, ministry.

 In the last couple of years, I have seen myself as the prodigal who returned. And I have been so grateful that God welcomes back his children with open arms. But, this morning, I saw in this scripture so much more.  I’m not sure how many days had passed between this incident on the Sea of Galilee and the crucifixion, but, I’m sure it was more than enough time for Peter to reflect on what had happened.  The important thing was that when the time was right (by God’s choosing) Jesus called out to Peter (like the voice of the Holy Spirit does for us) and Peter responded by swimming to Jesus and not away from him.  And, Jesus in his great mercy, kindness and forgiveness receives him and re-establishes the call he had placed on his life.

Its painful for me to make a personal part of my life public, and I’m hesitating even now about hitting the publish button, but, I feel so strongly in these last days before the return of Jesus, that it is imperative to strip away any pretense of that other than which we really are –  sinners saved by grace.  That God has seen fit to re-establish my own little personal ministry, i.e. writing this blog, teaching on Passover and just sharing with others day to day is a testimony to me of his grace.  Something I can honestly say, I appreciate now, so much more than I ever did before. 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they shall prosper who love thee.  Psalm 122:6  Watching and waiting with YOU for the soon return of Jesus!  Grace and blessings to all!  Cindy

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Responses

  1. Cindy,
    Thank you for sharing your heart with us. As one of your steady readers I have come to love you as well as some others I read. Please know that by sharing with us we all feel a bit closer to you. GOD bless you …. Steve Hollander

    • Thanks Steve, I really appreciate your encouragement! God has blessed me so greatly and through this very difficult journey, I have learned so much more than I would have otherwise. Now, I truly understand, how it is possible to give thanks in ALL things! Grace and blessings brother! Cindy

  2. Cindy,
    Thanks for sharing a bit of yourself with us…you are in my prayers. I am sad that you had to endure that type of heartbreak…

    Regarding Jesus’ questioning Peter three times…I like to think that it was His way of helping Peter atone for the three denials spoken that fateful, painful but ultimately necessary night that Jesus was tried in the court.

    Maranatha,
    YBIC,
    Ro

    • Hi Ro, Thanks for writing! You’re right, I believe the three questions absolutely correspond to the three denials. How great, in spite of our failures, Jesus offers us hope, forgiveness and restoration. Something which I hope by sharing my story brings strength to someone else. Grace and blessings brother! Cindy

  3. It doesn’t look an easy job to feed sheep, at least not in the winter!
    I saw you pointed out that Peter went to Jesus and I saw somewhere it was pointed out the 5 wise vigins went out to meet the bridegroom also, maybe there is a connection. Anyway, when we hear that trumpet I know we will be running to it, thanks for your ministry Cindy it is truely appreciated. YSIC, Deborah

    • Hi Deborah, I think you’re right about feeding sheep in the winter, a job that is a bit easier for us folks here in Hawaii!! I love the connection you made regarding running towards Jesus. And, isn’t that what he wants, a bride who eagerly awaits him? That day of joy is coming soon! Looking forward to seeing you there sister! Grace and blessings! Cindy

  4. Cindy, thanks for opening your heart. A tender heart is a precious thing. Been there too. It will get better with each day, then a day or two the wound flairs up a bit and our Lord has to clean out the proud flesh (infection etc.), but he has the perfect poultice for each one of us.
    Yep, winter feeding and breaking the frozen water so the critters can drink gets a little chilly! But, we love them and they love us. Hmmm OH what a mighty God we serve! God bless Jerusalem with peace. Blessings to you Sis. Anita

    • Thank you Anita for your kind words and encouragement. Its taken some time, but, I see so clearly now, how God uses the trials in our lives to refine us and draw us closer to him. And, for this I am ever so thankful! Enjoy those critters you’re caring for – your remarks remind me, that spiritually speaking, we all sometimes just need the help of someone to “break the ice” so, we can get a drink. Thank you sister, I can tell that you are one who excels at both! Grace and blessings! Cindy


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