Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” John 21:18 (NIV)
Jesus has made sure to Himself and to the world that Peter is a faithful servant. He goes on to show him what kind of future awaits him. Jesus says that when Peter was young he was free to come and go as he pleased. But later he would be bound and led where he did not want to go. The explanation seems simple. It is true that imprisonment and ultimate execution is in store for this pillar of our church. Peter is commissioned to feed Christ´s sheep. It is a worthy and noble task in the eyes of God. But it has its downside. It will not be good for this servant´s health or his earthly prosperity. Joy, Peter will surely have, but will not be the joy the world normally seeks. Working for the Lord can be dangerous. To be a true servant of God usually means that we will be under attack from all that hates the Light.
Could this concept be an extremely important lesson to learn from Jesus? It is one that we don´t like to talk about much. It is something that preachers today steer clear of for fear of frightening their flock. They are scared of reducing the chance of growing numbers. They may not get many new converts for the Lord? No salesman wants to talk about the downside of their product. In religion it is no different. Nobody wants to hear that to follow Christ may mean great loss to their own aspirations. Nobody wants to place ourselves at odds with the world we live in. Nobody wants to think that stepping in behind Jesus will mean to step right into the world´s distain. Nobody wants to hear that our chances of having a comfortable and prosperous life here in this life may be severely damaged or out of the question if our faith in God is to be cultivated in full. Not many want to hear the truth. Who wants to hear that to feed Jesus´ sheep could be a dangerous and often uncomfortable path to take?
But for the glory set before them many a saint has stepped forward nonetheless. The early church learned their lesson well. They were happy and willing to suffer whatever end God knew was necessary for the growth of faith. We as Christians today don´t like to think of opposition. But Jesus teaches us that it is a fact of our new life. He goes on to show us that it may just be a very good sign that we are truly following Him. Should we find ourselves with little wind in our face, perhaps we should check how closely we are following our Saviour. Perhaps we should look to see how much of the world we are letting go of to have Him in our lives. Perhaps we should look now to see if we are choosing our own comfort or security now. Perhaps we could ask Jesus if He will really be able to use us as His servants. Perhaps we should learn our lesson now and press on in our pursuit of our Lord. The warning has been given. Feeding the Lord´s sheep may be harmful to our health. Will we shy away from our burning bush? Or will we be like Peter and feed Jesus´ sheep regardless of the hazards?
Strengthen our faith we pray. Strengthen our bond with You. Let us get so close to You that we may face any adversity that opposes us. We don´t need to be strong. We don´t need to shy away from difficulties. If we can be with You we will make it through. We may not gain the world, but we will have more than our hearts can contain! Give us You regardless of the hazard we pray!