In John 21:17 we have the record of Jesus telling Peter to “Feed my sheep.” The sheep belonged to Jesus, but Peter was to become the shepherd of that flock, protecting them and teaching them.
What was Peter supposed to use as food? Where was he expected to get the fodder the sheep needed?
Of course Jesus was not talking about physical food. Earlier He had taught the disciples the relative importance of physical needs when He said “Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink or wear” (Matthew 6:25 CEV). Jesus was referring to spiritual food. He was telling Peter to give people all that was necessary to meet their spiritual needs.
But what spiritual food was available for Peter to use? The only Scripture he had was the Old Testament. What did Jesus intend for Peter to use to accomplish his assigned task?
Peter was expected to use the same thing we should employ as our primary source for feeding sheep today – JESUS. Earlier the Master had said “…if I be lifted up…I will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). For his sheep to fully understand and appreciate Jesus as the sinless, crucified, resurrected Son of God, they needed a daily dose of Him.
As children of God we are to be in a constant teaching mode, always alert to opportunities to tell people about Jesus. But we are also to be in a learning mode, eager to learn more about Him for ourselves. (Acts 10 tells of one such learning experience Peter had after the ascension of Jesus.)
How do we feed his sheep? The ways are limited only by our ability to hear and follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We can openly praise God for daily blessings. We must refuse the socially acceptable sins that surround us. We are to serve others, while exhibiting the inner joy that circumstances cannot erase and fellowship with other Christians.
The list of “how” will continue to unfold in our minds when our response to Jesus’ command is “Yes, Lord, I will gladly feed your sheep.”