Those of us who studied the Gospel of John this past year ended our 19 week series by reflecting on Jesus’ last three commands to his disciples in John 21: Come and Eat, Feed My Sheep and Follow Me. Teaching this lesson on Wednesday March 11, I had no idea that our world would essentially stop the very next day. And I had no idea how relevant Jesus’ words would become as we all began asking, “How can we feed his sheep?”
‘Feed my sheep’ is biblical shorthand for ‘take care of the people I’ve entrusted to you’. In Ezekiel 34, God condemns the leaders of Israel for NOT doing this. He says, “Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured…”
As we’ve written and talked about COVID 19, we’ve been trying to give each other language for what it looks like to feed Jesus’ sheep in a time like this. We should not take care of ourselves by hoarding and disregarding warnings. We should take care of the flock (other Christians): strengthening the weak, healing the sick, and binding up the injured. And we should minister to the rest of the world in the name of our Great Shepherd. This discussion is necessary and good, but as we look at the potential of days and weeks of feeding sheep ahead, it is entirely possible that this will all become exhausting and so, today, I thought I’d remind us of Jesus’ first command in John 21: Come and Eat.
This chapter begins with a group of disciples going fishing all night and coming up empty. In the morning, Jesus appears on the land nearby, tells them to cast their net on the other side and he fills it full. They joyfully recognize him and make a beeline for the shore with their catch, only to find out that he has already provided them with both bread and fish (v 9). Jesus tells them to come and eat (v 12) and “he took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish” (v 13).
The Good Shepherd feeds his sheep. In the rest of the chapter Jesus will give them instructions for the future, but first he says, “Come and Eat”.
Following Jesus’ example then, I’m going to invite you to come and eat. It’s Monday, and there will be lots of sheep feeding ahead of you this week. So right now, why don’t you take some time in God’s word, remembering that as you care for others, the LORD is shepherding you.
Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
This week, let God provide for you, lead you, restore you and comfort you. Reflect on His past goodness and mercy and on your future hope. He can prepare a table in the presence of our enemies: Come and Eat.