Day 58: Well-Fed Sheep

What does a lamb eat?

I’d never considered this question before sitting down to write this blog. But Jesus’ three instructions before He ascended into Heaven caused me to wonder…

  • “Feed my lambs.”
  • “Take care of my sheep.”
  • “Feed my sheep.”

Obviously, Jesus wasn’t speaking literally. He wasn’t a rancher with a pasture full of sheep. But His words piqued my interest: when I order lamb (so delicious, by the way) at a restaurant, how is it raised?

According to the USDA, lambs are typically raised in feedlots where they’re fed a specifically formulated feed consisting of wheat, corn, barley, milo, and wheat. This process can produce some very tasty lamb, but is it the best possible situation for the animals?

Many ranchers have stopped cramming their sheep into feedlots to be raised on grain and supplements. Rather, they allow them to be free and forage on their natural diet in a pasture, free of hormones, growth-promoting additives, and antibiotics. While it involves more work and isn’t as economical, this less stressful lifestyle results in a more nutritious, delicious product.

I think this is the type of feeding Jesus instructed Peter to give the world on the Sea of Galilee beach. The world (the Pharisees and teachers of the law) would tell Peter that the lambs should adhere to a strict, man-made diet of laws and rules. This umbrella approach would allow them to grow as many lambs and amass as much power as quickly as possible.

But that’s not how Jesus operated. He slowed down and let His sheep graze. He placed His lambs in productive fields with great grass and allowed them to mature at their own pace.

Of anyone, Peter would understand this. After all, he’d screwed up so badly that Jesus called him “Satan” (Matthew 16:23). He’d lost faith even as Jesus allowed him to do the unthinkable and walk on water (Matthew 14:28-31). And as Jesus was tried for false crimes that would lead to His death, Peter denied even knowing Him (Matthew 26:69-75).

If anyone deserved feed corn, it was Peter.

But Jesus nurtured him. By giving him time and feeding him the finest of grains, Jesus changed Peter’s heart and mindset so he could become an absolute warrior for God.

And He wants to do the same for you.

Consider what you have at your disposal: the Word of God (Psalm 119:105), the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; Romans 15:13), and the love of Jesus (Romans 5:8). What better feed could you ask for?

But Jesus’ instruction doesn’t just apply to Peter. You’ve been fed with an incredible bounty of Heavenly blessings. Now how will you pay that forward to the world? How will you feed Jesus’ lambs?

Start with the same way He fed you: with love and patience. What’s one thing you could do today to show Jesus’ love to someone else, particularly someone who doesn’t believe in His sacrifice? I challenge you: do that thing today.

Feed Jesus’ lambs. And don’t settle for feed corn.

He didn’t.