The Character of God as Agriculturalist Pt 3: Feeding the Sheep

John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep

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I love what Yeshua said here, “Feed my sheep.”  Notice what He did not say because it is just as important.

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“Rule over My sheep.”

“Discourage My sheep.”

“Devour My sheep.”

“Use My sheep to build an empire.”

“Make sure My sheep aren’t asking any questions.”

or my personal favorite —

“Force-feed my sheep.”

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Sometimes I wonder if He is thinking, “What part of feeding My sheep is so difficult to understand?”

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The first recorded martyr was Stephen, a man full of the Spirit, and his job was….. making sure the Greek widows were taken care of.  Stephen was feeding Messiah’s sheep.  Now, right after Yeshua’s exchange with Peter, He plainly tells him that he will be martyred.  He says, feed my sheep, and you will die for me.  In Acts 6, Stephen was given the job of feeding the sheep, and then he died for the testimony of Yeshua.

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What does this tell us?  Because I don’t feel this was an accident, not at all, I think it is deliberate.

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I believe there is a death to self that must occur in order for a person to see that the sheep are fed.  I believe that those who truly embrace the job of feeding the sheep die, perhaps not at the hands of the enemy, but they do die.  Who would be content to feed others year after year, never getting wealthy for it, in fact getting a lot of grief in the process?  Who would not weary when the widows were never depleted, year after year. Who would be more content to feed instead of being fed? Who desires to serve instead of be served?  Who desires to seek out those who need fed, instead of seeking out a reputation as someone who feeds?  There is no earthly glory to be had in simply feeding people.  It is not glamorous, it’s often times not pretty.  Dealing with hungry sheep is laborious, and often thankless.  Leading them to green pastures, and then allowing them to eat — hardly something worth bragging about.

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Feeding the sheep is what Yeshua commanded Peter to do, right before He told Peter that he would one day be martyred. But what did the disciples do as soon as they found some needy people?  They gave the job to others, and then one of them died the prophesied death of the feeder of hungry sheep.  Of course, Stephen was meeting the needs of the Greek widows in the physical, but there is also the spiritual principle to be considered.  Getting people what they need, and not simply what we want them to have, requires humility and restraint.

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God’s sheep must be led towards good things, but so often I see them being directed towards the bad — in order to steer them away from it.  As I was praying last night, I had to laugh at the picture that came to my mind.  I saw a man feeding something poisonous to a sheep and telling them never to eat it again.  And so often that is what we do, instead of feeding His sheep the good stuff and making sure they develop a healthy taste for it, we wave the bad in their faces, we sometimes even let them get a tantalizing taste for it.  Oh, don’t listen to that.  Stay away from that teaching.  That is junk food!  Perhaps. spiritually speaking, we would be better off not mentioning it unless absolutely necessary!  You never know when someone might enjoy the scent of poison, and develop a hankering for it — simply because we mentioned it.  Because we know our children run from everything we tell them to avoid right?  Right?  No, mine don’t either.

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When shepherds find a poison weed in the field, they uproot it and burn it — they don’t call all the sheep over, let them get a good whiff of it and expect them not to go looking for another.  It’s just such an awesome responsibility, as I said in my last blog, finding that living food and living water, and allowing the sheep to eat their fill at their own pace, and not forcing it down their throats.

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Lead the sheep to a good field, and the sheep will eat.  The food doesn’t need to be pre-processed, painstakingly inspected, placed into their mouths, and we don’t need to work their jaws for them and tell them to swallow and digest.  Sheep know how to eat.  Shepherds need to know when to leave them alone and let them do it.

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sheepeat

 

 

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1 Comment


  1. All good points that probably some or many of us have had fleeting thoughts about over the years, but just have not put all the pieces together as well as you have. I think many of these points apply to parenting as well. 🙂

    Reply

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