In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Simon, aka Peter, if he loved him. Simon was Peter’s birth name and Jesus always addressed him as Simon in the beginning of his ministry when he asked Simon to follow Him. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Simon as Simon. There is a point where we see Jesus finally calling him as Peter. I believe that Jesus would use Simon during the times when he would display actions of the old self of Simon as a light rebuke. Going back to the scene when Jesus had been with the disciples after his resurrection, in a conversation with Peter, He asked him 3 different times if he loved Jesus.
The first time, Jesus asks if Simon loved (agape) Him. Peter replied that he loved (phileo) Him. The agapeo love is true unconditional love whereas the phileo love is an effectual love. Jesus asks Peter again if he agapeo loved Him and he replied the same phileo love. Finally, Jesus asks Peter if he phileo loved him and Peter replied that he philoe loved Him. In all three instances Jesus gave the command to feed His sheep. This is an imperative command in the Greek, “Βόσκε” (boskee), to feed or portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church. Jesus did not ask Peter if he “could” feed His sheep but it was a command to “do” it. As a follower of Christ, we are to love Him. If so, then the command holds true for all of us not only the men called into ministry. But I want to focus on the men in ministry now.
What we are seeing in the church today are pulpits being filled with men unqualified who think they can properly feed God’s people. Not knowing how to properly handle the Word of God how can they possibly be ready for the most important job this side of eternity? These ministers of God’s Word and overseers will have to give an account to God for the souls they were to shepherd (Heb. 13:17). They will be judged for how they watched over God’s people. What a heavy weight to carry. Sadly, these future church leaders are not being educated properly on the expositional research to properly deliver the truth of God’s Word.
Many churches, too many to begin to imagine, are being led by men unfit to serve. They may fit the qualifications of a pastor in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 with an exemplary life but they are unfit to deliver the truth of Scripture. The issue is that “they don’t know that they don’t know.” They feel that if they can read a few commentaries they can put together a nifty sermon that will have the congregation on the edge of their seats in excitement. Oh, let’s not forget all the pragmatic bells and whistles they can also throw out there like power points, feel good stories and self-promoting illustrations. Anything to make you feel good and “like“ the pastor.
The pulpit has been neglected for too long. The pulpit is the place where God is to be glorified and His Word exposited. It does not serve as a stage to show off any talented speech, jokes or remedies. It is the altar to lift God and honor Him. If the pastor has any idea of the magnitude of the job he has been given, then every Sunday before he enters the pulpit, there needs to be a fearful knowledge that he is handling the most important document given to man. God has lowered Himself to give us His Word. For the men called to divide His Word and deliver it to His people, there is no higher calling. It is a serious task and should be handled with the deepest seriousness. Jesus said “feed my sheep” meaning to care for them and keep them from harm.
Part of the care of His flock is the protection from enemies. The Word of God is the defense for His flock. It gives protection in the way of knowledge through His Word. Properly taught followers know what evil lurks around us and knows how to defend themselves. A pastor that does not teach properly, does not care about the well-being of the people God has placed in his care. If you cannot teach your people about what to look out for and wat to stay clear of then I am afraid that you are not following the command of Christ in feeding His sheep. A pastor’s job is to protect the flock not to pet them.
After meditating on these three verses in John 21, I feel the weightiness of the responsibility of handling His Word. Even doing these little blogs, I feel that I have to get it right as I can. I do not want to be a stumbling block and drive a wedge between me and God on the account that I want to look like some Biblical scholar or major theologian. By the way, I am not. Just as student training to serve Him.
If you are in a church that you are unsure of the pastor or his training, ask him a small question. Ask him “do you love Jesus?” I am sure he will reply a big yes! If so then ask him to feed Christ’s sheep. Feed them. The expression on his face will tell you where his heart is. I pray if anyone reading this will take a closer look at what is being delivered from the pulpit and ask yourself, is this God’s Word being delivered to honor and glorify Him or is this about the pastor? We need to keep our pastors accountable. They are not a higher class of humans and they do need accountability and the good ones will appreciate your openness and care for God’s Word.
In Christ <><