This article is part 4 of a 5 part series on the resurrection.
Jesus had already died and resurrected and what remained from His mission was to convince His disciples of this fact. If not the flock appeared on the verge of desertion, and would have scattered, as sheep have a habit of doing without shepherds. Yet, the Lord being the Chief Shepherd gathered them to Himself. The Lord’s appearances were numerous. He appeared to both Marys, to the apostles on three separate instances, and to five hundred disciples among others (1 Co. 11:9). Many of these individuals probably consisted of those who formed together as a fellowship later.
Jesus had all these in mind along with future Saints when he spoke to Peter about feeding His sheep. While much is written about the two different Greek terms for love used in this passage, to lose sight of Christ’s overall concern for the church would be missing the point. Peter was repeatedly instructed to feed His sheep. In the near future Peter along with the other apostles would be deployed to begin this new enterprise to disciple, baptize and teach, making disciples of all nations. The command to feed His sheet appears as a precursor to the great commission.
It becomes plain enough that though Jesus would soon ascend to heaven, His chief concern rested on the safety of His sheep. The welfare of His sheep far beyond what we can learn from time and space. We can listen in on the intercessory prayer of Christ who speaks of those that were given to Christ (John 17:2,6). Their names have been recorded in the book of life from the foundation of the world (Rev.17:8). The doctrine of election helps us to understand that the church was in God’s plans from eternity. Christ praying to the Father across generations of people meant that the church was not something hurriedly pieced together but was conceived before time ever existed.
What was not immediately known to Peter were details particular to starting a church work, only the manner in which he relate to the Chief Shepherd was most pressing overall. Tantamount for the proper care for the sheep is the love the shepherd has for His Savior. Do you love me can be asked of any of us. To think that any would dare attempt any type of service for God without giving much thought about the nature of their relationship to Christ is plain foolishness. What must be constituted in the care of God’s people is the servant’s own love for Christ. A deep and intimate love for the Savior translates into greater service to others and can be seen elsewhere in parables that speak about the servants heartfelt faithful efforts to please His Master. The notion that insists on love for Christ but performs poorly toward others calls for self-examination. Jesus entrust the safekeeping of His church to those who are willing to sacrifice for others. In a very short time, Peter along with the rest of His followers would become the legs, arms and mouth pieces of the resurrected Christ to start a church that has continued to this day.
When you consider the encroaching darkness of our world being a disciple today can be a daunting task. When we begin to feel less than hopeful, we are assured of His presence through the indwelling of the Spirit who should be just as real to us as it was in the apostle’s day. We may find a good deal to be concerned about in this life and we may not like the direction that the modern church it taking, or necessarily approve of post modern measures to restore its once vibrant testimony, but one thing is for sure, Christ has never left any of us on our own. While Easter approaches, let our thoughts about this remarkable event where He rose from the dead and walked among his people for forty days before returning to glory fill our hearts with real hope.