Peter had failed his Lord. On the eve of Christ’s crucifixion Peter bragged that if all others should forsake Jesus, he, Simon Peter, “The Rock,” would never do so! Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”
Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matthew 26:31-35. ESV.)
I’m sure that Peter really believed what he said. It appears, however, that, at that time, he was more of a boastful bothersome pebble in Christ’s sandal than a strong rock of support.
Christ died on a cross, shedding His blood as the substitutionary payment for our sins, was buried, and rose from the tomb the third day. Later, He met with the 11 apostles around breakfast on the shore of the sea of Galilee.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. (John 21:15-17. ESV.)
Three denials, three confessions.
Oh, how many times through my 54 plus years of walking with my Lord have I been a shadow of that man Peter from that evening, 2000 years ago. So often I have been wakened by the rooster, so to speak, to be reminded that I had, indeed, denied the Lord in some way. A broken promise to him or to another, an unkind word here or there, a failure in faith, a rampaging temper—the list of denial is endless!
But did he cast me away because of my failures? NO! Ten thousand times no. Actually, like Peter, he turned his loving but sad gaze upon me and asked, “Carl, do you love me?”
There are several things to consider here. First, when our Lord asked Simon three times, “Do you love me?” the first two times he used the word for love that denotes a total unstained, unfailing love and commitment—actually, he meant a kind of love that only God could show to his own. No human being has this kind of love. It can only be given by our Lord.
Peter fully understood the rebuke Jesus was giving him so he chose to answer with a weaker, humbler word, one that said, in effect, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you like a close, personal friend.” Jesus answered, “Feed my lambs.”
A second time Jesus as much as asked, “Do you love me with the God-like love you bragged about—a love that would cause you to die for me, like I did for you?” Again Simon basically said, “You know my heart, Lord. You know I do love you like a close friend. Jesus said, “Tend my sheep.”
But the third time Jesus asked, “Simon, do you even truly love me as a close friend?” Simon Peter was broken. His only answer was, “You know everything, Lord. You know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.”
The point here is that no Christian can love Christ unless God’s Holy Spirit places the love of God in our heart and makes it our own. Nor can we serve Christ and “Feed His Sheep” unless he first gives us those things we are to give to the sheep.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5. ESV.)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13. NKJV.)
Remember when Jesus fed the 4000 and the 5000? It was CHRIST who broke the bread and fish … and then gave the food to his apostles to distribute to the people!
Likewise, when it comes to a husband and wife experiencing an “Unending Honeymoon” we must have Christ’s own love, placed in our heart and made our own by the Lord Jesus himself. That is the love that lasts a lifetime and grows like a well-watered and cared for garden.
And when our Lord tells us to, “Feed my lambs,” and to, “Tend my sheep,” I feel he means for both the husband and his wife to go to Christ daily—hour by hour if needed—and receive from him all that is necessary to love and care for one another to the degree our Lord requires. Both “feeding” and “tending” are terms that mean to do all that is involved in “shepherding” sheep. It means loving the lambs and sheep and caring for their every need. It means to “Give yourself up” for your husband or wife.
“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25. ESV.)
Remember, Christ loves you and so do we,
Carl and Sue.