“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs.'” (John 21:15)
If you love the Lord, what can you really do to show Him? He Himself doesn’t really “need” anything: He is totally self-sufficient. He doesn’t need you to bring Him anything to eat or drink, or anything at all. But Jesus tells Peter here that there IS something he can do to express his love and gratitude:
After asking Peter if he really loved Him, and getting an affirmative answer, Jesus told him: “Tend My lambs.” If you love Me, Jesus said, then you can show it by taking care of My lambs.
Now, as He often did, Jesus was speaking figuratively. He wasn’t suggesting that Peter change vocations and become a shepherd! Rather, the Lord often refers to His people in scripture as sheep. Psalm 100:3 is a famous example: “We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” So if he loved Him, Jesus told Peter, He wanted him to “tend His sheep” — in other words, look after His people. We see later in I Peter 5 that Peter took this seriously, as he considered himself an elder or “shepherd” of God’s sheep.
But this is a good word for us today too — and not only those of us who are “pastors” but all of us as God’s people. How can we minister to Him who needs nothing? How can we do more than merely SAY that we love Him — how can we demonstrate it? By “tending His lambs.” Remember Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Do you want to show your gratitude for the free salvation God gave you in Christ? Do you desire some concrete means of demonstrating your love for Him? Love His people, and you are loving God. Care for His people, and you are caring for Him.
Let us hear Jesus speaking to us today, as clearly as He did to Peter that day by the sea: “Do you love Me? Tend My Lambs.”