When Jesus was arrested the night before His crucifixion, Peter followed behind at a safe distance. Although he boasted that he would never desert the Lord; that night he denied three times that he even knew Jesus. After Jesus had risen from the dead, He and Peter had some face time.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17
Jesus restored a repentant Peter to fellowship. He also commissioned Him to tend His flock, to feed his lambs and sheep. After Jesus ascended to heaven, a transformed Peter powerfully preached the very first gospel message on the day of Pentecost. He became a strong leader in the first mega-church.
I find it interesting that God calls his followers sheep. Sheep are ignorant and defenseless and they need the protection and guidance of the shepherd. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." And that’s exactly what He did for us. Now He has gifted pastors and teachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The lambs and the sheep need feeding and leading and that is the task of the spiritual shepherd. What an awesome responsibility!
Our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. He wants to destroy the shepherd and the flock. Unfortunately, too many pastors have been defeated spiritually, physically or emotionally.
There are times when shepherds feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated. Some grow tired and weary and regrettably give up the fight all too soon. Peter learned what it was like to shepherd the flock and he wrote these verses to encourage all of God’s under-shepherds who would follow in his footsteps.
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 1 Peter 5:1-4