“Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep [and] you must follow me!’ John 21:17 and 22

We have all had multiple “big events in our life; some very happy, some heartbreaking, some life changing, some greatly anticipated, some a complete surprise. Often after these events you wonder, “What do I do now? In any case it often seems anti-climactic. Force of habit takes over. You see the need to get back to what you were doing before the big event; one foot in front of another until the pain or the excitement subsides, depending on what the big event was: wedding, funeral, birth, Christmas after Advent, Easter after Lent, a much anticipated vacation, a trip of a lifetime, a divorce, beginning a new job, graduation from your final school, and a host of other things. John 21 is about seven disciples of the Lord returning to their home in Galilee after three tumultuous, incredible years in the presence of Jesus of Nazareth; followed in quick succession by his horrific death, astounding resurrection, and a few unexpected appearances in his resurrected body. What next? What do they do now after all this has happened? What is their “normal life to consist of tomorrow, and next week, and beyond?
Peter said, “I’m going fishing! The “Big Fisherman returns to his trade. The other disciples said, “We’re coming with you; some of them also returning to their trade. You may wonder what Jesus did in the intervening time between his appearances during the forty days before his ascension. Where was he? Did he make more appearances of which we know nothing? Where did he stay? We simply do not know. If anyone imagines something, it is all conjecture. Some are sure he visited his mother. But the Bible does not tell us so. In any case it is quite clear that his appearances were deliberate and timely. They had a purpose. Jesus, the Son of God, had a righteous intent and perfect plan in everything he did. Therefore, his appearance to the seven disciples on the shore of Galilee after such shocking events was timely. He allowed for the right amount of time to pass in their own hearts and minds; then, he came to them with a calling and command for the rest of their lives.  The Lord of Life intends to do the same with you after “big events. He wants you to get back to your calling as his disciple after the “big event has had some impact upon you. Maybe there will be a change in your thinking, your motivation, your location, the circumstances of your life, but the calling of his brothers and sisters remains the same: feed my sheep, follow me!
You and I are called to be spiritual shepherds following his example. If the “big event in your life pulled you away from pursuing this call for a season, or if you are wondering what to do next after whatever took place, you are called to go back and feed the sheep and care for them as Jesus would. And you are not to worry about what someone one else is doing or not doing. He says to you as he did to Peter, “Don’t worry about him (or them), you follow me! “Big events can throw us off stride; they can produce a self-pity party, they can change your direction and desires, they can confuse you concerning your future, they can cause you to question everything, they can produce depression, they can make you lackadaisical. Whatever thinking and feeling dwelt in the disciples during a long night of fishing with no success, it was banished in the early dawn light as a “stranger told them to cast their net on the opposite side of the boat. The full net of large fish sparked John’s heart and memory, “It is the Lord!
The call was clear, the motivation was deeply set, the source of their strength was clarified, and the disciples continued to fish; only now they were fishers of men. We do not know if Peter ever fished as a trade again, for Paul at times went back to making tents, but the priority calling of these men was now to bear witness to their living Lord on every occasion, and seek as his servants the souls of men; which they did continuously until their deaths. Their call is your call too; follow me, feed my sheep! Put the “big event behind you and get on with Jesus’ will for you.

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