In John 21:15-17 Jesus asks Peter if he really loves him and Peter’s answer to our Lord and Savior is, yes. Jesus’ response each time he asked the question reminds Peter of what he holds important. After hearing that Peter’s love is true, his response is for Peter to feed his sheep. We must be careful as shepherds and sheep who shepherd how we interact with those whom Jesus says are important to him.
Now, a shepherd is a pretty obvious position, but what about a shepherd sheep? A shepherd sheep is what in sports we would call a player coach. Think of a shepherd sheep like a Michael Jordan, Ray Lewis, or a Peyton Manning. It’s a field general who knows what to do when the coach is not there. Someone who is so in tune with the coach’s philosophy and heart, that they share his image and his likeness. These people look, walk, talk and act like the coach and this is what Jesus is imparting into Peter.
As Peter has to be the image of Christ, we are also required to do so. We are called to expose people to the love of God as if he were here doing it himself. This is what Paul encourages us to do in 2 Corinthians 5:20. John 13:35 says it’s how you love that will identify you are of Christ. We must know how to treat the people God sends into our fold because he finds this important.
In John 21:15, Jesus speaks about feeding lambs and in verse 16 he speaks about feeding sheep. We must know at all times who we are feeding. We must make sure that what they are being fed is adequate for them; whether lamb or sheep. We must make sure we have a good place for them to eat and be fed. This place must be safe, secure, and hold an atmosphere where both failure and growth can be experienced. In this place, the agape love that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 13 will be at work. We must cherish everyone for who they are and the very fact that they have been sent by God to grow and be fed with us. James 2 says we cannot treat people different or become biased based on opinion, but to love all the same as we are reminded by the sacrifice of Christ who died for all. When we receive God’s love and love him we are able to love those God sends to us. Love conquers a multitude of sin, so love the hell out of people because that’s exactly what God has done for us.