Bible Study, Catholic, Catholicism, Christianity, Uncategorized

Bible 1 Yr – Day 325 – Feed My Lambs

Today we read the last chapter of John’s Gospel. Not surprisingly, he ends with some even more striking parallels. It starts off with a seemingly innocuous statement by Peter, “I’m going fishing.”

It’s not surprising he is going fishing, a man’s got to eat but really this can be seen a failure on Peter’s part. He’s given up. He doesn’t know what to do next so he’s going back to what he knew before. He met this man Jesus, he followed him. He saw him crucified and resurrected but Peter doesn’t really know how he will go on in the world. So he’s going to his safe spot, he’s going back to earning a living.

We have come full circle. When Jesus and Peter first met Jesus had Peter put out into the water and fish. Jesus took Peter out into the sea, representing danger and the unknown. The first part of the journey is now complete. Whereas when they first met they go out to fish, now Jesus calls Peter into the shore. He calls Peter to safety with Him. Discipleship is a journey. It will take us out into the unknown. There will be storms and we will feel alone (remember when Jesus walked on water and came to the Apostles during the storm) but not really be alone. Ultimately, Jesus will bring us to a new shore with him.

Jesus has a charcoal fire going. This is significant because we are told that at the house of the high priest when Peter denied Jesus three times they were around a charcoal fire. Then the fire was built because it was cold. Here the sun is rising and warmth is coming. The fire is not to keep away the cold but to share food. And what food it is. The last time we saw Jesus next to this sea he fed the 5,000 by multiplying the loaves and fishes. Again the meal is bread and fish. Again the events are connected. Recall that after feeding the 5,000 is when Jesus gave the Bread of Life discourse. Notice regarding the meal they eat the Scripture says:

13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them…

These are the same words that are used each time the Eucharist is described. Thus again we see that Jesus comes to us now in the Eucharist. Jesus is providing for his disciples both Spiritual and Mortal food. Everything comes from Him. He is showing Peter, he does not need to back to his old job. The Lord will provide.

Now three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him and three times Peter answers “Yes”. The three Yes’ make up for the three times Peter denied Jesus. Notice, Jesus has already forgiven Peter for this offense. Jesus has appeared to Peter before his three “Yes’” but Peter must still articulate his “apology”. Peter must make a confession even though he has already been forgiven. Notice the penance is proportionate to the offense.
Jesus’ response to Peter’s three answers is significant. Three times Peter says he loves Jesus, three times Jesus says:

He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

This goes back to John 10, when Jesus said

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Jn 10:11

Many people think that when Jesus calls Peter “the Rock” is the only time Jesus installs Peter as the head of the Church. That is not exactly correct. When Peter is renamed that is a future promise that on him the Church will be built. Here we see the Resurrected Jesus giving Peter care over all his disciples. Here Peter becomes the head of the Church, the shepherd of the new flock. Notice the further parallel:

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Jn 10:11

and

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Jn 21:17-19

When Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd he notes that he will lay down his life for the sheep. When Jesus puts the sheep in Peter’s care he tells Peter that he “will stretch out his hands” a reference to crucifixion. Peter will also give his life for the sheep. Peter was in fact crucified in A.D. 67. He was the first shepherd of the new Church.

Thus, much of the final chapter of John is about Peter. How God has taken his man, a rough, impulsive, blue-collar, relatively simple but fiercely loyal and brave man and carefully guided him to the place where he needs to be. He is ready. He is ready to lead a new religion. The odds are stacked against him. His Jewish brothers will oppose him. The political structure of Rome will be against him. He will make mistakes, he might be scared and he may even have doubts but he just needs to rest on the shore of safety of the Lord. God will provide the bread and the fish. Jesus will ask him to do hard things, even to the point of giving up his life but the reward is eternal life.

2 thoughts on “Bible 1 Yr – Day 325 – Feed My Lambs”

  1. “Here we see the Resurrected Jesus giving Peter care over all his disciples. Here Peter becomes the head of the Church, the shepherd of the new flock.”

    So when Peter says this in 1 Peter 5:1-4King James Version (KJV)

    5 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
    2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
    3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.
    4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

    Is Peter passing his authority to all the elders, when he says “Feed the flock”, because a command from the apostles is the same as a command from the Lord?

  2. This is another false “either / or” distinction.

    All bishops and priests are given authority at their ordination. Each is a shepherd of their own flock. The Priest of a local Parrish congregation and the Bishop of the diocese.

    I the example you cite, Peter is confirming this. He is exhorting the ordained to fulfill their role as shepherd.

    However, Peter is the still the Shepherd of the larger church. Notice, as he points out, even though they are all shepherds Peter still recognizes their is a chief shepherd – the Lord.

    By analogy, you could think of it like our military. There are many generals but only 1 chairman of the joints chiefs of staff. And the Chairman would acknowledge the President as the top authority.

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