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Feeding Time 

“’Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’”  John 21:17

An enormous amount of analysis, exegesis, eisegesis and parsing fogs up this verse.  Let’s let the theologians fuss over the interpretations.  This little phrase, “Feed My Sheep” concerns me. Feeding.  Food.  Eating.  Dinner.  Bread.  Fish.  Potatoes.  Vegetables.  Fried chicken.  Barbequed ribs.  Pumpkin pie.  We don’t need Greek to understand that!  Whatever else Jesus was talking about, He tied it all back to this concept of eating.  Jesus was just telling Peter, “If you don’t feed my sheep, you don’t love me!”  Feeding and loving go together!” 

A mother’s ears are attuned to the particular cry of her infant.  One cry means he’s tired, another means his tummy hurts, another says, “Change me!”  But the biggest cry is, “I’m hungry!”  You can rock him, bounce and twirl him around, but he’s not going to stop wailing until he gets fed.  A pacifier won’t satisfy a hungry baby.  “I want real food and I want it now!” 

And so it begins.  We all like to eat and we can all blame our mothers for making us this way!  Some moms do an especially good job with feeding their children.  When I was growing up, supper time was nearly as sacred as church time.  You could eat breakfast alone.  You could eat lunch alone.  But you never ate supper alone.  If all of us were home, we sat and waited until everyone was at the table.  You didn’t play ball, read a book or talk on the phone at supper time.  You ate with the family.  

So, why did Jesus command Peter to “Feed My sheep?”  First, understand that God likes sequence and rhythm.  It’s in the rhythm of life.  Evening and morning.  Revolving of the earth around the sun.  Spring, summer, fall and winter.  Sowing and reaping.  Waking and sleeping.  Male and female.  God did not intend for His creation to be a monotonous vector into infinity.  Rather, He created us to live in cycles and seasons.  He causes nature to double back on itself in endless iterations.

Second, if we live in a paradigm of cycles and seasons, there are other implications that follow.  It means that you and I will run out of stuff.  We don’t have inexhaustible resources.  We need to restock, we have to be replenished.  One meal isn’t enough.  One harvest isn’t enough.  The supply of energy runs out and has to be built up again.  When it comes to eating, it’s a daily business.  Jesus said, “Give us this day our daily bread.” 

Renewal is vital. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:1-2.

Come back to eat.  It doesn’t matter that the same text gets used many times over.  Boring?  Well, then fried chicken is boring because you’ve had it before.  No, it doesn’t work that way.  We eat the same food meal after meal because we know it’s good!  And, that’s why we eat the same spiritual food so often.  That’s why we keep coming back to the same spiritual kitchen. 

Depleted resources need to be replenished.  You have to return to the source of your strength.  The way we are created forces us back to the source of our supply.  If we never got hungry, we may forget to eat.  Moreover, you need to eat right food!  Jesus said “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6. I never get tired of hearing doctrine.  Oh yes, try some different entrée’s along the way, but give me the staples of my diet.  They make me strong and they satisfy my spiritual hunger!  If we are forced to go back to our source, that means we have to live close to the source.

By the way, what are you eating for you spiritual dinner today?

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