Forgiven Shepherd, not Forgotten Betrayer
Most of us have heard of Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. He was the guy that betrayed Jesus three times after Jesus was arrested. John 18:25-27
Peter was devastated and “wept bitterly”, the Bible says (Luke 22:62). He had betrayed the One he loved, the One he confessed as Lord and Savior. In Matthew 16:16 Peter exclaimed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
But Jesus forgave Peter after Peter repented of his sin, after he had forsaken Jesus. After Jesus resurrection Jesus asked Peter three times, “do you love me?” and each time Peter replied yes. Jesus exhorted Peter after each of Peter’s replies to “Feed my lambs”, “Tend my sheep”, and “Feed my sheep”.
You may not know this but we are all created in the very image and likeness of God and we have been given dominion over all the earth. (Gen. 1:26) Jesus said in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
If we are created in the image of God, Imago Dei (Latin translation), then we have His characteristics dwelling in us. If He is the Good Shepherd, then we are His shepherds. This is why Jesus challenged Peter to take care of His flock in three different ways.
For most of us, our immediate flock is our family; our children and our wife. We experienced the utter desolation of betraying the ones we love and the guilt and shame that ensues, just like Peter did when he denied Jesus. Peter didn’t stay there in that abysmal abyss, he repented of his sin and he turned back to Jesus and Peter experienced the only forgiveness that can cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
So when we stand before our Lord Jesus Christ, forgiven and free in the light of His Glory he asks us to feed his lambs (our children), tend his sheep (the hearts of our family), and to feed his sheep (our wives). Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” We don’t often hear that last part; that my friend is what shepherds do.
Let me read for you the rest of this passage (vs 26-31), “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “ Do you hear the Shepherd speaking to us about caring for his sheep with his use of shepherding words, “without spot or wrinkle…holy and without blemish”?
You are free! Jesus is asking you, “do you love me?” You are not a failure, don’t respond to your betrayal like Judas did. You are forgiven! So, take care of His sheep, love your wife, serve your family, wash them with the water of God’s Word.