Then when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these do?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus said a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd my sheep.”
There are several great lessons which we should learn from Peter’s restoration. One is that the first essential in a Christian worker is love for Christ Himself. Wisdom will not do. Eloquence will not do. We may delight in the work itself. People sometimes talk about a “passion for souls” as essential in one who would work for Christ; but this is not enough. Nothing less than a passion for Christ Himself will do to fit one for labour for souls. “I have but one passion, and that is He,” said a great missionary. When we love Christ with all our heart, and not till then, are we ready to do His work. He will not intrust the care of His flock to any who are not loyal to Him and do not love Him. “Lovest thou me?” comes before “Feed my lambs.”
Another thought here for workers is, that they must feed the souls intrusted to their care. Entertainment is not the object, but feeding, spiritual feeding. But what is food for souls? Nothing but Christ Himself; and the way to feed others on Christ is to open up for them the holy Word, that they may see Christ and learn to love Him and trust Him and do His will. We must be sure that we give true soul-food, the pure Word of God, to those whom we undertake to feed.
Then more than feeding is here enjoined. The Master’s words vary here: He bade Peter feed the lambs and tend the sheep; that is, give them all shepherd-care — love, protection, guidance, provision. The most important and responsible work in all this world is caring for souls. The responsibility rests, not on pastors alone, but upon all parents, all teachers, all Christians. We dare not do this work carelessly. It would be a terrible thing if through our negligence any soul should be marred or lost. They are Christ’s lambs and Christ’s sheep that we are set to shepherd; we must be faithful.