Skip to content

John 21:15 Feed My Lambs

Lambs
Print or Share

Feed My Lambs

After breakfast Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him more than these? Peter said, you know I love you. Jesus said Feed my Lambs.

This is a Bible Study. Have your own Bible handy to look up the references mentioned.

If you do not have a Bible, I invite you to go to BibleGateway.com or another online Bible.

John 21:15-25

15-17. “There are three words in the Greek language that are translated into English by the one word love.” (McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume IV: [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 503)

1. Eros: This is sexual love. “But this word eros is never used in the Word of God.” (McGee, 503)
2. Phileo: “Peter always used phileo, which is the love of friend for friend, fondness for another. Here, “Jesus and Peter both used Phileo. (Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament Volume 1 Matthew-Galatians. [Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2004], 398]
3. Agape: “In His questions in John 21:15-16, our Lord used agape, which is the Greek word for the highest kind of love, sacrificing love, divine love. (Wiersbe, 398)

“The essential message here is that Jesus demands total commitment from His followers. Their love for Him must place Him above their love for all else.” (MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. [Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005], 1426)

Do You Love Me

“Peter and his Lord had already met privately and no doubt taken care of Peter’s sins (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5), but since Peter had denied the Lord publicly, it was important that there be a public restoration.” (Wiersbe, 397)

“The key issue is Peter’s love for the Lord Jesus, and that should be a key matter with us today. But what did the Lord mean by ‘more that these’?” (Wiersbe, 398)

“The question probably meant, ‘Do you love Me—as you claimed—more than these other disciples love Me?’” (Wiersbe, 398)

“Peter had already confessed his sin and been forgiven. Now he was being restored to apostleship and leadership.” (Wiersbe, 398)

Feed My Lambs

“Now you will notice the exhortation. Our Lord responds, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Let me give you a better translation: ‘Be grazing my baby lambs’—the word for lambs is diminutive which means little baby lambs. ‘Simon Peter, if you love me I want you to go and graze the little baby lambs; I want you to feed them.’” (McGee, 504)

Feed My Sheep

“Actually it is not that at all, but rather ‘Shepherd the sheep’—that is the word that is used…He says, ‘feed’ the little baby lambs but ‘shepherd or discipline’ the sheep…We are to feed the lambs, and shepherd or discipline the older sheep. Do you know why? It is because the little lambs follow the sheep, hence the older sheep must be disciplined.” (McGee, 504)

“The third time Jesus asked Peter, He used Peter’s word for love that signified something less than total devotion, questioning even that level of love which Peter thought he was safe in claiming.” (MacArthur, 1427)

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?” [AMP]

“Jesus would not let him go with offering an easy response. Instead, Jesus probed him until he opened the wounded heart of this would-be follower. Off-the-cuff replies and well-meaning superficial responses to the risen Lord will not work in the call of Jesus to the life of discipleship. Jesus forced Peter to learn the lesson of a changed life.” (Borchert, Gerald L., The New American Commentary Volume 25B, John 12-21. [Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002], 352)

Shepherding

“Leadership in the Christian church should not be a matter of obligation of oughtness but of a willing desire…Seeking power and personal aggrandizement should not be any Part of the goals among Jesus’ disciples.” (Borchert, 336)

Grieved

Notice that Peter was grieved when Jesus asked him the third time. Jesus had used the word Phileo.

“Peter was grieved, not because the Lord had asked him the question three times, but he was grieved in his heart because the Lord had to come down and stoop to his level in using his word.” (McGee, 505)

Peter “as much as says that the best thing he can do is to say to the Lord that he has an affection for Him and that the Lord knows he has this affection. He is not bragging now for he realizes that the Lord knows his heart—that he has a real affection in his heart for Him.” (McGee, 505)

“Let me impress it upon your heart that the acid test of any man today, either in pulpit or pew, is ‘Lovest thou me?’” (McGee, 505)

Peter

“Peter experienced a major ‘undoing’ (cf. Isaiah 6:5, KJV) of his self-assertiveness because Jesus asked him ‘the third time’ (21:17) about his love. The third time did it. Imagine again the scene as the evangelist framed it: a charcoal fire and three questions about Peter’s relationship to Jesus. It hardly takes a genius to relate this event to that of the denial. Facing up to oneself is a traumatic experience.” (Borchert, 335)

“Jesus would not let him go with offering an easy response. Instead, Jesus probed him until he opened the wounded heart of this would-be follower. Off-the-cuff replies and well-meaning superficial responses to the risen Lord will not work in the call of Jesus to the life of discipleship. Jesus forced Peter to learn the hard lesson of a changed life. Everyone who follows Jesus must learn what real believing and loving Jesus means.” (Borchert, 334)

Dear Sheep

“The Greek word for ‘sheep’ at the end of John 21:17 means ‘dear sheep.’ Our Lord’s sheep are dear to Him and he wants His ministers to love them and care for them personally and lovingly (See Ezekiel 34 for God’s indictment of unfaithful shepherds, the leaders of Judah. A pastor who loves the flock will serve it faithfully, no matter what the cost.” (Wiersbe, 359)

“It is clear that Jesus had a task for him, but not for the Peter of the preresurrection. It was a Peter who needed to be sifted by the penetrating questioning of Jesus in order to do the work of the risen Lord and be reinstated after his devasting fall. God/Jesus does not bless human beings primarily to provide them with status but to carry out the divine purposes in the world.” (Borchert, 337)

Hands of God

18-19. “Jesus knew Peter would suffer martyrdom. Therefore, do not worry! The church and history are in the hands of God. That is the basic message Peter himself deliver to the church in 1 Peter 4:12-14.” (Borchert, 337)

“When a person has settled the matter of death, then he is ready to live and to serve!” (Wiersbe, 399)

“We as His followers must yield ourselves—just as He yielded Himself for us—and be ‘living sacrifices’ (Romans 12:1-2) who are ‘ready to be offered’ (2 Timothy 4:6-8) if it is the will of God.” (Wiersbe, 399)

“Our Lord’s words, ‘Follow me!’ must have brought new joy and love to Peter’s heart. Literally, Jesus said, ‘Keep on following Me.” (Wiersbe, 399)

Wiersbe did identify two times Peter had taken “his eyes for his Lord and looked at himself.” (399) Luke 5:8; Matthew 14:30

“It is dangerous to look at the circumstances instead of looking to the Lord.” (Wiersbe, 399)

Looking Back

20-22. Peter looked back and saw John and asked Jesus about him.

“Isn’t this just like this fellow, Simon Peter? He says, ‘Now you have told me what I am going to do; tell me what John is going to do.” (McGee, 505)

“Jesus’ reply, ‘You follow Me,’ signified that his primary concern must not be for John but his continued devotion to the Lord and His service, i.e., Christ’s service must be his all-consuming passion and nothing must detract from it.” (MacArthur, 1427)

“Beware when you get your eyes off the Lord and start to look at other Christians! ‘Looking unto Jesus’ should be the aim and practice of every believer (Hebrews 12:1-2). To be distracted by ourselves, our circumstances, or by other Christians is to disobey the Lord and possibly get detoured out of the will of God. Keep your eyes of faith on Him and on Him alone.” (Wiersbe, 399)

This “means that we must not permit our curiosity about other to distract us from following the Lord. God has His plan for us; He also has plans for our Christian friends and associates. How He works in their lives is His business. Our business is to follow Him as He leads us (see Romans 14:1-13.” (Wiersbe, 399)

23-24. “Here is something interesting. Ignorance, or lack of knowledge, is no excuse for not serving the Lord…There are a lot of things that you won’t know. There are many things that you don’t need to know.” (McGee, 505)

McGee continues, “The important thing is to follow Him.” (505)

25. “John is not exaggerating when he says the whole world could not hold the book about Him if it all could be written down.” (McGee, 506)

References

Amplified Bible (AMP)
Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

In this article Scripture quotations taken from KJV.

Borchert, Gerald L., The New American Commentary Volume 25B, John 12-21. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume IV: Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983
MacArthur, John, The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, Thomas Nelson Inc., 2005
Wiersbe, Warren W, The Bible Exposition Commentary New Testament Volume 1 Matthew-Galatians. Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2004

Fishing

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Print or Share