The real question that has to be answered when we read this passage is this: Did Jesus give this assignment just to Peter or was He reminding Peter of an assignment given to every disciple? If it were only to Peter then its an interesting and touching event to read but requires no decision or response from the rest of us. But if Jesus expects all His disciples to feed His sheep then church history records a case of massive insubordination. For 2000 years weve expected a small percentage of believers we called pastors to try to care for Jesus sheep while the rest of us thought of ourselves as unqualified. At best the process didnt work. There have always been far too many people who need care in proportion to those who give it. In other words, a few overworked people struggling in the midst of hordes of neglected sheep. If that had been Jesus plan, it certainly turned out to be a bad one. But if instead His plan was for every disciple to do his or her part in the care of His people then two conclusions are immediately obvious; first, there have only been a few times in history when His plan was actually tried, and second, its no wonder why theres so little health and maturity in the Body of Christ.
In todays lesson we will explore the meaning of Jesus words to Peter and then consider a practical way most of us could do our part in caring for His sheep. If we did, wouldnt it be exciting to see what could happen.
Our Assignment Jn 21
What did He say to Peter?
If you love me, take care of those I love just like Ive taken care of you.
1) (v. 15) Tend my Lambs: feed, nourish those who are young in age or experience.
2) (v. 13) Shepherd my sheep: shepherd (heal, restore, discipline, etc) My little sheep.
3) (v. 17) Tend my sheep: feed, nourish My little sheep.
Definition: help others grow strong and healthy through patient investment of time and energy.
Are we all issued this call? Mt 9:36-38
This is a call to care giving not leadership.
Our Model Jn 10
Thieves (v. 10): Sheep as a product
Hirelings (v. 12, 13): Sheep as a job
Shepherds (v. 14): Sheep as a friend
- (v. 3) Knows and loves as individuals
- (v. 4) Leads not drives
- ( v. 11) Lays down life for
- (v. 12) Remains when danger comes
Our Job Description Eze 34
Here God indicts Judahs religious leaders for failing to do the proper tasks of a shepherd. He then describes Himself as a shepherd and explains how He will care for His sheep (vs. 4, 11-16). He will:
1) Seek for the lost.
2) Bring back the scattered
- Gather them (build community)
- Bring them to their land (restore promised blessings)
3) Bind up the broken (heal the heart)
4) Heal the diseased/strengthen the sick (heal the body)
5) Strengthen the sickly (food, water, rest)
He then promises that He will send Jesus as our true Shepherd (vs. 23, 24).
What must take place in us before we can be a shepherd for others?
1) Healing, binding up, strengthening, gathering
- Were sheep before were shepherds (were always sheep)
- Remove: injury, ignorance, confusion
- The amount of time needed varies
2) Re-orientation of thinking: Otherly
-Its not about me anymore, I want to help others
- Eyes to see individuals (people not numbers)
3) The often-repeated decision to lay down my life for the sheep
- Heart of worship (Ro 12:1)
-Ys in the road
- Moments of envy (seeing the abundance of those who chose another path)
A suggested first Step
There are already many people in this congregation who are hard at work caring for Gods sheep, but Im going to describe here a first step for those who dont know where to begin. Over the years many hundreds of people at NWC have participated in simple yet powerful process called Life Transformation Groups (LTG). These groups are not programmed or overseen by the church. They are spontaneous gatherings of believers who want to grow and care for others.
a) LTGs are built on four Biblical foundations
2) Confession of sin
3) Bible reading
4) Prayer for the lost
b) It is a process so flexible it eliminates obstacles such as the need for:
- Parking spaces
- Musical talent
- Scheduled meeting space
- Trained leaders
- Dress codes
- Child care
- Inconvenient meeting times
c) It requires
- 11½ hr. per week
- A desire to see my life change
- A willingness to meet with people who are young in the Lord or in personal need
- The discipline to regularly attend and be on time
- The character to refuse to gossip about things shared in the group
- A desire to welcome others as prayers for the lost are answered
d) It is most effective in helping:
- Those looking for a way to feed His sheep
- Those struggling with wrong attitudes or addictions
- Those who never seem to find the time to read the Bible
- Those who are tired of trying to live the Christian life alone
- Those who want to find a realistic way to bring the lost to Church
a) When can we start? Anytime you wish
b) Do we need permission? You have it
c) Do we report to anyone? No, (though we have a class to encourage the process and answer questions)
d) How do I get the book? (Cultivating a Life For God, Neil Cole)
- Sign up in the Book Store. Well order as many as needed.
- Price: $13
e) Does this replace other ministries Im involved in?
- I hope not. I see it as a way of strengthening you so youll be more effective in other areas of ministry.
- (If those in MiniChurch were also in LTG the pastoral load on the MiniChurch pastor would be greatly relieved and more care given.)
f) How would I start an LTG?
- Read the book and/or attend our class
- Ask God to show you:
1) a new believer
2) a seeker
3) a Christian who desperately needs help
- Explain an LTG and invite that person to join you
- Arrange a convenient time and place
- Dont modify the process, let it act as a filter (those who dont want to pay the price will soon drop out. . . let this happen and look for someone else).