Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
“He saith unto him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?’ Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, lovest thou me? And he said unto Him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, ‘Feed my Sheep’” (John 21:17.)
A lot had happened in the days preceding this question from Jesus to Peter. At the final meal which the disciples had eaten with Jesus, He told them that each one there would be offended (be made to stumble) by Him that night. Jesus knew what was coming and He knew that the disciples would flee in fear when He was arrested. As usual, Peter spoke up and had proclaimed that maybe the others would be offended but not him. Jesus knew better and told Peter that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed.
Peter boldly said that even if he should die he would not deny Christ. We all know what happened. Jesus was arrested, the disciples scattered, and Peter did deny Christ. Jesus was crucified but arose from the dead in victory. He appeared to various people after His resurrection giving eyewitness proof that He had conquered death.
Now He was meeting with some of His disciples at the Sea of Galilee and a very humble Peter was there. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter had denied Christ three times and Jesus gave him three opportunities to state his love for Him. Peter wasn’t quite as bold in his answer, but he had learned from his rash behavior and now was ready to be used by Jesus to “feed my sheep.”
This is an important directive by Jesus. Most of us focus on the command Jesus gave to go out and evangelize the world, but this command to Peter was to feed my sheep. These sheep are the ones who belong to Jesus’ flock; the sheep are fellow Christians. “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink,” as the saying goes, and so it is with feeding on God’s Word. “You can lead a person to the Lord, but you can’t make him feed on God’s Word.” The food of God’s inerrant word is there for everyone to feed on.
It is up to the individual to eat and get nourishment from it, then to feed others in the flock. We allow things to get in the way of Bible study. A television show, a hobby, jogging, talking on the phone…none of these things are more important than feeding on God’s Word. Christ must be above everything in a Christian’s life. Bible study is essential to gain nourishment. How can you feed others if you are starving yourself?
How many of us deny food for our body? We always make time to nourish the body, but we need to also nourish our souls. Christians need to nourish our brothers and sisters, too. It isn’t only the man in the pulpit who feeds the sheep; each individual Christian has that responsibility.
Christians must receive God’s Word as truth, but only the study of God’s Word will prove the truth of what you are being fed. Paul certainly fed Jesus’ sheep and was thankful that the Thessalonians received God’s Word as truth.
“For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).
Today there are many who shun the Word of God, or even disparage it as a falsehood. It is easy to be deceived by false teachers if you don’t study God’s Word. A preacher may water down God’s Word so as not to offend members of the congregation, or a verse may be taken out of context in order to justify a lifestyle or an unbiblical idea. Yes, Paul was thankful that the Thessalonians had received God’s Word as truth, but what did he say about those in Berea?
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).
The Bereans made sure that what was being fed to them was correct. They searched the Scriptures to be sure they weren’t being fed lies. How did they know that what was being taught about Jesus was true? They studied the Old Testament prophecies that told of the coming Messiah. They confirmed they were being fed truth.
Jesus encouraged His disciples to eagerly dig into God’s Word.
“And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath” (Mark 4:24-25).
Whatever effort we put into the study of God’s Word, we will be rewarded with a like amount of nourishment and understanding. If we just don’t care we will be undernourished in the important understanding of God’s Word. You will easily be led astray if you don’t allow yourself to feed on God’s truth. There is a lost world all around us, but we who love Jesus need to be fed so we won’t be duped by the enemy.
Long before Jesus entered His creation, the prophet Amos spoke of a time that there would be a famine. The famine he foretold was not of food, but famine of hearing the word of God.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it” (Amos 8:11-12).
By despising God, humanity will reap what they’ve sewn…a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. Today we hear of crops failing and drought being a scourge upon the land. We see pictures of children who are starving because they cannot get food for nourishment. Because we do not hear God’s Word our souls are being starved just as those unfed children.
Amos said the days come, but those days are here. We are blessed that God’s Word is readily available in most countries, but there is a famine of…hearing the words of the LORD. Too often some make time for hearing vulgar jokes, watching blasphemous movies, or listening to satanic music but we don’t spend time hearing God’s Word. There are lost people everywhere, even sitting in pews, who desperately need to hear about Jesus and His love. How can you feed them if you have ignored His truth?
Maybe someone from the Mormon cult who has food laced with poison will be there. Or maybe a New Ager with lies instead of truth will try to feed them. If Christians were better fed we could spread the truth of God’s message of salvation to those who are hungry to receive it. Knowing God’s Word and encouraging fellow Christians is imperative. We cannot feed others if we aren’t fed ourselves. A famine of hearing the word of God is upon our land. God’s Word is available, but too many have their fingers in their ears.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Don’t plug your ears.
Each day this famine grows worse. It is being allowed by believers who won’t study God’s Word. They don’t feed themselves so they are unable to feed Jesus’ sheep or the lost. Too many Christians simply think, “Why should I bother?” Brethren, this attitude is completely against God’s Word. Jesus is our example. His entire ministry was spent feeding the sheep.
He is our example in how to turn away attacks from the enemy. In his pride Satan thought he could trick Jesus by approaching Him when His body was weak from lack of food…Jesus had just spent 40 days fasting. Satan knew that Jesus was hungry and challenged Him to turn the stones to bread. Jesus answered Him from God’s word by quoting from Deuteronomy chapter eight.
“But he answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4).
Satan will always attack when you are weak and unnourished in God’s word. Don’t allow him a foothold.
Jesus wrote a letter to the Ekklesia of Laodicea in which He criticized their apathy. That Laodicean congregation is alive and well in these last days and is a part of this famine of hearing God’s Word. They (we) are not being fed spiritually and are weakening, but then they do not want to hear the truth.
“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16).
Today there are many pastors who don’t stand on God’s Word and truth. They don’t feed the sheep and the sheep are starving; they are looking for food in other pastures. Jesus has not given up on the individuals within these congregations.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
The problem with the Laodiceans is they believe they already have everything they need. Guess what, they don’t have the most important thing… Jesus Christ. Remember Jesus is standing on the outside knocking; He’s not inside. If any individual opens the door to Him He promises, “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,” and so the famine for that individual is over. If you let Him in, Jesus will sup with you and you will be fed.
The famine of not hearing God’s Word is a choice people make individually. If you do not study your Bible you will not be fed; if you don’t surround yourself with Christian friends who hold God’s Word as truth you will be undernourished. Many Christians choose to be a part of this famine. Instead of being fed on God’s Word, many so-called Christians refuse to hear God’s Word; therefore they won’t be fed truth. By rejecting God’s truth they cannot properly feed others in the flock.
This is an end time’s scenario happening before our very eyes. When Amos spoke of a famine of God’s Word, he said people will no longer “hear” the Word of God. One day they may seek after it but they won’t find it. They didn’t want to “hear” it for so long that it will no longer be available. It is a “God famine” which is brought about by a lack of pursuit of His Word. The food is available, but if you won’t hear His truth you won’t be fed.
If we seek God we will find Him. On the other hand if we despise God and remain in this attitude for very long, it will be increasingly more difficult to “hear” His Word, let alone receive it unto ourselves. Jesus told Peter to feed my sheep and these words are for you and me as well. Nourish yourself on God’s Word and feed His sheep…then offer food to those who are lost.
God bless you all,
Ron & Nathele Graham