Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | August 23, 2019

“Tend My sheep.” – “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. … for the equipping of the saints for the work of service”

Today’s devotion comes from John 21:15-17.

“So 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, “Tend My lambs.”  He *said to him again 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, “Shepherd 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 all things;  You know that I love You.”  Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.”  John 21:15-17.


Other doctrine uses today’s Scripture to teach a lesson on man’s alleged free-will, teaching that Jesus was trying to motivate Peter to tend sheep. 

But, Reformed Doctrine uses today’s Scripture to meditate on the qualities of God and the work of God.  

What quality of God and work of God does today’s Scripture lead us to meditate?

Our first meditation may be on Psalm 23.

“The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

But, then we quickly remember how Jesus labeled Himself “the good shepherd” in John chapter 10.

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father;  and I lay down My life for the sheep.  I have other sheep, which are not of this fold;  I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice;  and they will become one flock with one shepherd.  …

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;  and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all;  and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  John 10:14-16 and 27-29.

We remember Revelation 7:17 and what our good shepherd does.

“for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life;  and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17.

With that understanding of Who God is and what God does, Reformed Doctrine does not view today’s Scripture as teaching that we need to pump up our alleged free-will to tend sheep as other doctrine teaches.  But rather, Reformed Doctrine studies how God accomplishes His work of tending to the sheep.

“But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore it says,


…  And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;  until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”  Ephesians 4:7-13.

God totally and perfectly accomplishes all of His good pleasure in tending the sheep.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken;  truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.”  Isaiah 46:9-11.


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