Today was the first Sunday of my four week commitment to shepherd the church that my friend, Dr. Steve Smith, has near Nashville, IN. Steve is in Israel for a month and I’m helping him out during his absence. Since I will be preaching and leading Sunday school for a month, I decided that I will do a sort series on nuggets from the Bible.
Nuggets are the gems that are contained within the pages of God’s word that we have read time and time again, sometimes without understanding the real message of what Jesus is trying to teach us.
I started the sermon today with the story of the restoration of Peter after the resurrection of Jesus. The disciples were fishing, without success, when Jesus urged them to try casting their net on the other side of the boat. They caught 153 fish, a huge catch, without damaging their net and then joined Jesus for breakfast on the shore.
As Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times prior to the crucifixion, our Savior asked Peter three times about whether Peter loved Him. Each time, Jesus gave an instruction: “Feed my lambs”, “Take care of my sheep” and “Feed my sheep”. This is an often overlooked part of the story as most teachers focus on the Greek words for love and how Peter responded to each inquiry.
One of the points of this story is to gain an understanding of how Jesus wants us to order our priorities. “Feed my lambs” is a mandate to spend time feeding the word of God to our younger generations and those who are new in the faith. “Take care of my sheep” is an imperative to spend time keeping the more mature folks in line – think accountability and discipline to make sure that are setting good examples for the younger ones. Then, and only then, Jesus commands Peter to “Feed my sheep” – continue to grow them in the word of God.
What many people miss is that this “upside down kingdom” of God is quite different from the way the world works today. Too many times, our culture experiences broken families, instant gratification and a sense of self fulfillment before we worry about our youngest saints.
Jesus makes it quite clear that we are to subordinate our will to serve our younger generations and raise them in a Christ-like environment. How much better our world would be if we lived according to the commands of Christ!
Our verse for tonight is very short – the first command of Jesus to Peter after his restoration. The apostle John tells us, in John 21:15, “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “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.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to pour our lives into the next generations without reservation… My prayer is that we can read the Scripture in such a way as to try and understand the “upside down kingdom” of God. After all, we are told that the ways of God are not our ways – and John proves that in this story. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…