Weekly Devotion – John 21:17

Published 7:51 am Monday, December 19, 2022

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By Mike Caton

John 21:17, 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.”

Three times Jesus has asked Peter the same question and twice Peter has told him the same thing: Lord, you know that I love you. To be sure, Peter is thinking back to the night he denied Jesus three times, how can he not? Maybe that is why Jesus asked him three times. John tells us Peter’s feelings were hurt over this questioning. And this time Peter answers the same way, you know all things, you know I love you.

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And three times, Jesus has responded the same way to Peter, though his answers use a little different wording. Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs, take care of his sheep and feed his sheep. Jesus is certainly not talking about a literal flock of farm animals, he is talking about the flock of his followers. Jesus has often referred to his people as sheep, helpless and harassed, without a shepherd, lost and wandering, in desperate need. And Jesus has spoken about how he loves those folks, just like a shepherd knows and loves his sheep: making sure they are safe in the pen, looking for them when they are lost, calling them by name, rescuing them. And Jesus tells Peter he is to do the very same thing, shepherd Jesus’ sheep, his people. And that is what Peter does. He preaches on Pentecost, works among the Jews especially to bring them to Jesus, he cares for them, shepherds them. In I Peter he refers to himself as a fellow elder when he speaks to the elders in his letter.

When Jesus asks us the same question, he will give us the same answer as well: take care of my people. As Christians we need to be mindful and aware of our brothers and sisters. We need to know them well enough to know their hurts and their joys. And we need to cry with those who cry and laugh with those who laugh. We need to care for each other, to look out for each other, to make sure we are all OK. And we need to look for the opportunity to serve others so that we can introduce them to Jesus as well. Whether we realize it or not, we are all to be shepherds of God’s people. And we need to be good shepherds. That will show our love for Jesus.

Father, help me love you by loving your people. In Jesus name, amen.

Mike Caton is the preacher at Mount Olive Church of Christ in Belhaven. He volunteers at the Ponzer Fire Department and works full time with Hyde County EMS. If you would like to receive daily devotions in your inbox, email mikecaton@centurylink.net.