This is the phrase that Jesus spoke to Peter. And it’s a phrase that has been very relevant to me. It’s relevant because it’s something he said to me earlier in the year, and has set the course for what he wants to do through me.
Yesterday I was on the bus from Aldershot to Farnborough, and about halfway in the journey he says to me “Feed MY sheep.” When I got back to Farnborough, he talked to me about his sheep.
You see, that’s the first important emphasis. They are HIS sheep, not mine or anyone else’s. As he spoke, he did so out of John 10 where he talks to the disciples about the sheep and the shepherd.
They are his sheep. They aren’t meant to be the property of any one person or team of people, any organisation or large group. They are his sheep. Even if Jesus has given the instruction to feed his sheep, they are still his. That’s something all of us would do well to remember!
It’s something that never changes. They may go in and out and find pasture. No matter, they are and will always be his. And they must be fed with Jesus himself. We can’t limit Jesus by feeding who we want to. We must feed the sheep that Jesus draws to himself in us.
Jesus knows who his sheep are. They may not be of “this fold.” They may not be of “this group or organisation,” But they are still his. If he wants to bring them along, what is that to you or I? He will bring along those he wants to. Whether they fit into our “fold” is irrelevant to Jesus.
There is only one thing that matters to him.
“The sheep hear his voice and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.
There is one thing that matters to him. That his sheep listen to his voice; that he knows them and they know him.
I am finding that his sheep are not always the people I think they are. I am finding people who listen to the voice of Jesus, and these are the ones he is bringing along. I’m finding that there are people who aren’t bothered about wearing the badge, or being part of the club, but who are bothered about listening to the voice of Jesus and doing what he says. They don’t necessarily fit into what used to be the norm, but they are no doubt the ones Jesus is identifying as his sheep.”
“And there will be one flock, one shepherd.”
This ends it once and for all. There is one flock, those who listen to the voice of Jesus, who know him and are known by him. And there is one shepherd, Jesus himself. It’s all defined by Jesus himself.
Eat the Bread, drink the Living Water. Feed his sheep!