ARE YOU SHEEPISH?

Here’s one from Lee!  Awesome!  Take a look… -anita

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 I’m concluding my study of the book of John, and I always have enjoyed the conversation between Peter and the Lord Jesus in Jn 21:15-17. As you may recall, Jesus asked Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” Each time Peter answered in the affirmative and to each answer, our Lord said, “Feed my sheep.”

 

From my limited perspective and in my experience, when I ask someone multiple times to do something, I’m usually actually questioning whether they can do the task, whether they are committed enough to get the job done. In Peter’s case, the Lord knew Peter well and also could foresee the future (He even told Peter how he would die). With that, it’s more likely that Jesus was impressing upon Peter how difficult the task would be and He wanted to prepare Peter for the ministry ahead of him. Also, as many commentators have noted, since Peter had denied knowing the Lord three times, it may be significant that Jesus asked Peter for his commitment three times.

 

At any rate, Jesus three times emphasized to Peter to feed His sheep. Now, this isn’t the first time the Lord used sheep to describe us; He does so many times in the Bible. [See Ps 23, Is 40:11 and Jn 10:1-18 for example; Jn 10:7 Jesus says “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.”] In reading a daily commentary from Dr. R.C. Sproul on this topic, John Calvin is quoted as Calvin comments on people as sheep and observes our similarity to sheep in their mildness and their need for a shepherd. Per Calvin: “None can be fed to salvation by the doctrine of the Gospel [alone] but those who are mild and teachable….” Sproul’s comments continue by saying, “This is true not only of laypeople in the church but also of the church’s leaders. And it was true even of the Apostles.”

 

In part, what I get from this discourse is that we, like Peter, need to rely on the Lord without questioning, even if we have to go to a cross, or something else as difficult and painful. Jesus prepared Peter to literally go to a cross, and He prepares us to encounter our crosses, whatever they may be. And, back to sheep for a moment, we are very much like sheep. We often are mindless of important things around us—even dangerous things—as we walk through life. We often miss many important clues as we go day to day. We often “lose our way”—which is the path the Lord has laid out for us—as we get diverted by the things of the world.

 

Continuing the metaphor for a moment: what does it mean to be meek or mild, as Calvin advises us? The Greek word translated “meek” is praeis and refers to mildness, gentleness of spirit, or humility. An interesting reference in the OT describes Moses in Numbers 12:3: “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.” Here was a man, loved and used by God in tremendous ways, described as humble or meek. One commentary I found said this about meekness: It is having the right or the power to do something but refraining for the benefit of someone else.

 

It’s hard to be humble. In life, often we have to grit our teeth and push forward with all our might and great resolve to make it through the challenges of the day, those posed by the world. In the midst of that, it often is hard to be humble. Yet, as I’ve grown older, I’ve slowly (and obstinately) learned to admit I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything. I do need to listen to the advice and counsel of those around me. And I, for sure, need to listen to the gentle, loving counsel of the Lord as He works all things for good in my life!

 

I’m proud—and grateful—to be one of His sheep…I hope you are too!

-Lee Pierce