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Feed My Sheep

The scriptures right down below, in this message, are from the Gospel of John, just prior to Jesus restoring Peter with the command to "Feed My Sheep".
John 21:17b KJV
"And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.
Jesus saith unto him,
Feed my sheep."
This teaching can be shared with the entire Body of Christ, the Church, however I'm writing it now, as the Lord gives light, for the Shepard's of the flock - for those who love Jesus and have answered the same call Jesus gave to Peter, in the scripture above - to Pastors, Ministers, Apostles, Priests, Bishops, Deacons - basically all who are called to be the Lord's servants, in their respective work, within the Body of Christ.
If we look at the preceding events, before the command given to Peter, all would know what had transpired, as
John 3:16 has been expressed in the Passion, Obedience and Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

The resurrection of Jesus is now the eternal living Person of Christ exploding into space and time with the reality, Light and Life contained in that most famous scripture verse.
Now, for over two thousand years, those who have decided to count the cost of
Luke 14:26-35, and have heard the call to follow the living Way, Truth and Life - the Life lived out by the Son of the Almighty God, creator of the heavens and the earth, in the lowly servant-Saviour form of the creature.
Jesus in the form of our very own human kind - those whom God is mindful of - to our ever astonished inability to comprehend this mystery. The mystery of the God to man relationship.
So as the call is received by the few with ears to hear, an arduous journey begins in each, with wide-eyed wonder, drooling mouths and anticipation that unseats worldly comforts and self - for eternal purposes.
Let's honestly say then, after some time ministering, that the - shall we call it, "
servant syndrome", eventually sets in with the weary burden of constantly "feeding the sheep".
The heavenly call, the celestial ideals and the transcendent joy, that leaves not a speck of earthly dust upon our very beings - may at any point (or at several points along the journey), fade from the wonder of that initial call.
The reasons are many, which wear down the faithful servant - the cruel, evil world alone never seems the arena where service will flourish. The sheep are wayward, the pastures seem sparse and fallow too often and the very system of earthly life seems to resist the very best efforts in serving.
Need we even give "ink" to the unholy lies, deception and distractions of the enemy of both God and man?
Psychology has coined the phrase "
cognitive dissonance" in relatively recent years, which may well voice the experience of the disillusioned Christian servant of our day, and most likely those generations before, defined as follows:
"A conflict or anxiety resulting from inconsistencies between one's beliefs and one's actions or other beliefs and one's present reality."
Now we could continue to talk volumes on the stresses and strains of the ministry vocation, yet surely our heavenly Father was not slumbering on this vocational hazard, when the Word was spoken and recorded.

Surely, not a single soul called to serve, would dare to utter an Adamic accusation to Almighty God, with the same echo of Adam himself?

Genesis 3:12 KJV
"And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."

Would we dare to echo in like manner: "The calling You gave me!" to God in utter, sinful denial?
The error cannot be repeated, in those born again, as the Obedient Son of God, Jesus, has forever restored the lost Eden of ages past, at the cross, with His very own blood sacrificed.
So then dear servant, caretaker and feeder of the Lord's sheepfold, we need to seek for the light to progress on the path of our calling.
The Biblical answers are surely plentiful, yet for this short writing, the focus is on the few resurrection (earthly) days, of our Lord Jesus, prior to His return to Heavenly Glory, at the right hand of God the Father.
John 21:3-13 offers a very practical look at the disciples of then confronted by Jesus, and surely we too will be confronted by Jesus now, as we take a look at the specific recorded event in the gospel of John.
Let's just read it through to remind ourselves of this encounter the disciples had with the resurrected Christ.
John 21:3-13 KJV
"Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise."

Some notes to ponder:

We can notice from a brief reading the "fleshy" urge of Peter to go fish and the "fleshy" agreement of the rest of the disciples.
Almost in an agitated atmosphere to "just go do" that which most knew best, before Jesus had called them - the three plus years before - to follow Him and become fishers of men.
In viewing this text, we should surely take caution from the live parable unfolding in the scripture. How often do we get to the point of just needing to "do something"? Even worse is needing to do from the pattern of our past life - before being called.
A futile night of "fleshy" labour brought no gain and as we know of the time, fishing work was done at night. It is just too much, to go into the symbolism of that right now, but worth each of us going away to consider.

We can then take note that by the morning, the wasted "fleshy" work of night was confronted with Jesus, unknown to them in the moment, asking them if their labour bore fruit.
The amazing Grace of Jesus as he calls His beloved disciples "children", gives us a clue that Jesus was there for them in this unfolding living parable to correct their "fleshy" efforts.
How often do we perhaps have our fruitless labour confronted by the same Stranger asking how we have been doing so far and do we have any fish?
Can we answer with a same perhaps frustrated, but honest "No"?
I wonder how often we fluff up earthly dust to avoid the honest answer of unfruitful labour?
We then see a clear and precise instruction given by Jesus.
The instruction followed, brings instant results - beyond imagination, with awe inspiring abundance and by minimal effort, as the Stranger is obeyed.
Now we may have just received a beam of light to glimmer on our past efforts, if we consider all the vocational moments of the past. Those moments with inhumane, human struggle, and then also in contrast those in humble obedience.
Surely our cheeks are aglow as we think this through?
John was the first to notice in the moment, as he looked at the miraculous catch, that His beloved Messiah had given the instruction.
John, the youngest, beloved disciple and seemingly most perceptive here - could smell his Master's fragrance and identify His hand at work. Although John, a "son of thunder", as Jesus called John and his brother James - his youth may have not given him a sure voice to hear, but it was heard as he told Peter: "It is the Lord".
We all perhaps do well to hear the lessor voices telling of Jesus in our midst. Should we perhaps even aim to be the lessor voice?
Peter, as a "type of us all", jumps straight overboard to get to his Saviour, butt naked! Oh, how often we forget ourselves in the moment that Jesus is seen in our midst. How often at those times may we also find ourselves exposed?
The rest hold their heads together and drag the catch to the shore, almost unaccredited in this living parable. Definitely unaccredited to those who have not read all the Gospel to discover their names.
We see that even before the disciples struggle the catch to the shore, that Jesus has prepared a fire with cooking fish and bread. (Hmmm ... wonder where He got that bread?).
Jesus' detailed guidance brought abundance, yet He Himself was ready to supply and then astonishingly perhaps, have the disciples bring in their now (and I'll be cautious here), "sanctified" labour for a small reunion breakfast.
There is so very much to see in this moment of this living parable - the resurrection life, the grace, the reward, the reunion, the meal, the supply, the prophetic implications to study and so much more.
Think of the unbroken net in verse 11, that Peter drew in too and perhaps launch a study on all the implications. The neatly packed verse may well bring forth a catch of unfolded volumes, that may surely fill many pages.
Wouldn't we all do well to dig in here - to this holy breakfast?
We can see a very significant part of this entire encounter, the disciples had with Jesus, at the end of the account.
First we do need to see it is a pattern for service, a lesson for the call Peter would soon hear directly from Jesus' mouth, that same day and an echo for the generations of faithful, who hear the call to surrender all, to serve in the resurrection Way, Truth and Life, revealed in the Gospel accounts. It is a lovely, humble and lowly calling to live
Galatians 2:20 for the benefit of those God wants to reach through human agency - surrendered vessels unto His glory.
Hebrews, as a study, will reveal that many of the Old Testament faithful did not receive their reward on Earth, yet now Jesus bid the fisher's of men to come and dine. Verse 12 of John's 21st chapter, is clearly a prophetic foreshadowing of the dinner yet to come, but more than that alone, as we grasp that present moment of sober reality - that which unfolds in the physical world too as the hand of Jesus offers refreshment.
The work of the flesh, unproductive (a shadow of the prior covenant), now had the specific command from Jesus directly - to produce visible abundance to be shared, as Jesus requested those who would soon feed His sheep to eat with Him the reward of obedient, spiritual labour of the new covenant. Notably this was after the labour of the night was completed obediently.
The provision was twofold in the miracle catch and the already prepared fire, fish and bread by Jesus own hand.
Verse 13 again:
"Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise."
The significant symbolism of bread, fish and the Messiah giving the workers all they need to restore their spent efforts, is a point to mark in bold that:
Servant, your Master will take care of the weary, weathered, hungry need of your own body, soul and spirit as you minister His gift of salvation to the least of them so tirelessly.
Take note of the pause, after work, the open fellowship of Jesus being given to you after each day of labour and dine with the Lord before heading out again.
Gather fellow workers with you, as Jesus gives supply from Himself and your labour alike, all in His timeless command that we have heard - with those before us and surely those after too.
Let's receive nourishment daily from Jesus hand and keep listening and serving, as we hear the voice of Jesus say:
"Feed My Sheep".
Much love in Christ our Lord,
Wednesday, 16 January 2019
Cape Town, South Africa


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