The Shepherding of the Lambs
John 21:15-17
So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes…

I. CHRIST THINKS OF THE CHILDREN AS LAMBS. Of all the flock the Iambs are most carefully kept within the fold. The sheep may be allowed to stray, but not the lambs. In such a land as Palestine a lamb outside the fold would soon fail a prey to wild beasts. Christ ever regarded children as a part of the kingdom. He might say to His disciples, "I will make you fishers of men," but He never told them to be fishers of children, they were to be shepherds to the children, who were already in the fold. Now, that has a very deep meaning both for the lambs and the shepherds. To the lambs — it means that Christ loves you — that you are in His great fold — He is your Shepherd. If you only knew how much He loved you, you would say, "I love Him because He first loved me." But it has a meaning for those who feed them. We must treat them as lambs. They are not yet on the dark mountains of unbelief, or in the far country of sin. We have not to bring them home, but to keep them at home. If we are to do this, we must always speak of God as their best friend. If thus they think of Him, then they will never desire to leave the blessed enclosure.

II. CHRIST SAYS THEY MUST BE FED. Do not think they are too young to be fed. They will soon be sheep. The flocks of the future will be largely determined by the treatment the lambs now receive. We see this clearly enough in other realms. If a child be stinted in food, he will suffer in body all his days. No after plenty will remedy the neglect. If a child be not taught the elements of knowledge, it will be difficult to acquire them afterwards. But we do not see so clearly (would that we did!) the immense importance of providing spiritual food. Neglect of this can never be remedied. Later in life the child may be brought to the knowledge of the truth, but even then the character will not be what it might have been if it had been in early days fed after the manner of Christ. You may take a tree which has grown for some years in one place or direction, and move it to another place or give it another direction; but it will never have the vigour or grace of a young tree planted in the right place, and trained from the first in the direction you wished. "Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God," &c. It is easy to see why it should be so. The bent of life is determined in early days, then habits are formed, and the general tone and character of the soul are fixed.

III. THEY MUST HAVE FOOD CONVENIENT FOR THEM. Hidden in the word is surely the idea that the food must be simple. Lambs will not thrive on the food of the sheep. They need the milk, and not the hard hay, the tender herb, and not the coarse roots. It is almost as bad to give them what they cannot digest as to give them nothing to digest at all. There is in this book an abundance of provision, but we must see to it that we make a right selection therefrom. Many parts of Holy Scripture are not suited to the capacity or calculated to meet the wants of a child. They will only puzzle and perplex. Our Lord's words are best suited to the children. He so often spoke in parables that there is nearly always a picture for them to look upon as they read His words. Then, too, our Lord is ever telling of a Father, and His great love; ever revealing Him in words of tenderness and grace. Now, the main thing is for the child to be drawn to God — to know Him in Jesus Christ — to think of Him as the best Friend. If we can fix the young heart upon God, then our work is well-nigh done.

IV. THEY MUST BE FED BY THOSE WHO LOVE THE GOOD SHEPHERD. The naturalist must do his work by keen observation; the philosopher by the dry light of reason; the poet's chief ally is imagination; but love is the supreme thing in the kingdom of God. Our Lord's anxiety is all concerning Peter's love. If his heart be right, Christ knew that all else would come right.

(W. G. Horder.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

WEB: So when they had eaten their breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."

The Risen Jesus Questioning Peter's Love
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