After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” John 21:15-19
Gratitude is another word for thanksgiving. Gratitude is the main focus of course for Thanksgiving Day that we celebrate each year to remember what God has done for us. It’s a gratitude feast to remind us how blessed we are. Gratitude is an attitude of love. Jesus gave Peter some major grace and love in the above account of Him restoring Peter. Peter let fear take over and denied Jesus not just once, but three times. He meant what he said when he denied Jesus. Jesus restored him three times. Within grace comes the gratitude that we all have because we understand the sacrifice Jesus made for us. It makes me think of that old campfire song we would sing, “it only takes a spark to get a fire going, that’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it, you want to pass it on.” See we won’t see Jesus as just our savior, but He becomes Lord. God’s grace fills us with gratitude and that gratitude can be nothing more than the power of the pass it on. We have to share our light, whatever it may be to get peoples attention off themselves and onto God. With each of these restoration statements above, Jesus says something different to Peter each time. Let’s reflect on the meaning of each.
On each of the interactions Jesus always asks the same question, do you love me? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves, do we love Jesus? Are we willing to die for Him? The first statement Jesus makes is to tell Peter to feed His lambs. The lamb of course is the baby sheep. Jesus talks about Himself as the good Sheppard and we are His sheep. When Jesus says to feed His lambs He is talking about teaching the baby Christians about Himself and God. When you overcome an obstacle in your life, you have something to pass on to someone else to empower him or her. The gratitude you feel today is the deliverance from your yesterday. We need to pass it on to the next person so they will be empowered to overcome as well.
The next thing Jesus says to Peter is to take care of my sheep. Notice He is not talking about feeding, He is taking about caring. One of the most important things we can do as a body of believers is to pray for each other, care for each other, do life with each other. We should consider the people we go to church with as an extended family. As I talked about in a blog a couple of weeks ago, we should present our church as a shame free environment where anyone feels at home and can be inspired by our positive attitude about life and change their lives around for good.
The last thing Jesus says to Peter is to feed His sheep. Pass on what you have overcome with the mature believer as well. Just because they may be a strong leader in the church, doesn’t mean they can’t learn something new about themselves to change something that may need to be changed. We all are striving to perfection, but until we no longer are in this earthly jar of clay, we have to deal with our imperfections and try to be better people.
The gratitude we feel and experience when God forgives us is an awesome feeling when we understand it. The way we understand it is when we use the powerful passion of the pass it on. We should not keep our blessings to ourselves even if it makes us uncomfortable. God does awesome stuff to the moving target that does not worry about the shame of their past and moves forward with a grateful heart, not a taking it for granted heart. William Arthur Ward said,
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
The power and the passion of the pass it on gives us a feeling of gratitude and fuels us to do God’s will with reckless abandon. Be grateful and pass it on. Remember, it only takes a spark to get a fire going.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.