from the devotional book, PICTURES OF GOD
Read John 21:1-17
The setting was the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias) after Jesus’ resurrection. Peter had gone fishing, which was his former profession, and six other disciples had joined him. Jesus appeared, and without introducing Himself, blessed them with a huge catch of fish, then cooked them breakfast on the shore. What had been frustrating work was now rewarding and relaxing.
After breakfast, Jesus and Peter apparently got alone and had a conversation in private. Jesus was probably looking straight into Peter’s eyes when He asked him,
“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more these?” (John 21:15, NASB)
What did Jesus mean by “more than these”? More than Peter loved the other disciples? Or perhaps more than the other disciples loved Jesus? Maybe, but it seems more likely that Jesus was asking if Peter loved Him more than fishing and the other familiar, comfortable things in life to which Peter had now returned. In any case, He was pointedly asking Peter where He stood in Peter’s values.
Jesus basically asked the same question three times, using two different words for “feeding” or “taking care of” sheep, two different words for “sheep” (“sheep” and “lambs”), two different words for “love”, and two different words for “knowing”. Some make much of these differences, but I think Jesus was using virtual synonyms to drive home His point. He was gently giving Peter the chance to reaffirm his love after Peter had denied Jesus three times on the night of His trial.
How did Jesus ask Peter to prove his love?
“Tend My lambs…
“Shepherd My sheep…
“Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17, NASB)
What is the best way to thank our Shepherd and express our love for Him? Feed His sheep. Nurture those He loves. Jesus has the heart of a Shepherd, and He longs for us to join Him in that work.