“To what does Jesus connect the need to feed and tend the flock? It is to be his love for Jesus. It is this love for Jesus that translates into his love for the sheep, the flock of God. According to Jesus, this love demonstrates the pastor’s love for Jesus.”
How can you tell that your pastor loves you? This could get tricky. We might be tempted to exegete his facial expressions, evaluate his manners, or consider whether or not he sends you a birthday card. However, the Bible actually gives several ways that demonstrate this love.
One of the ways the pastor shows his love is by feeding the flock (the church) the Word of God.
Where do we get this point from? There are many places in the Bible, but a good place to see this is in John chapter 21.
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”” (John 21:15)
Jesus tells Peter to feed his lambs. He says the same thing in verse 17. The word has to do with caring for or looking after the flock. In the Middle Eastern agrarian culture the shepherd would lead his flock to food and the still waters of refreshment. He ensured that they were properly fed.
Jesus goes on in verse 16,
“He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”” (John 21:16)
The word translated “tend” means “shepherd.” It is to take care of, protect, guard, and nourish. There are threats on the outside from wolves and threats on the inside because of bad decisions by the sheep. In both cases the shepherd is to be actively engaged in the thoughtful care of the sheep.
To what does Jesus connect the need to feed and tend the flock? It is to be his love for Jesus. It is this love for Jesus that translates into his love for the sheep, the flock of God. According to Jesus, this love demonstrates the pastor’s love for Jesus.
How? How then does the pastor lead, feed, and protect the sheep? It is through the ministry of the Word of God.
“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Titus 1:9)
“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:15)
“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.” (1 Timothy 4:13-14)
“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”” (1 Timothy 6:20)
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2)
There are many ways that a pastor can show his love for Christ and his church, but none is more prominent then the ministry of the Word.
What is the content of this loving ministry? It is to be doctrinal preaching. Doctrinal preaching is preaching that endeavors to teach theological truth. I know that doctrine has fallen on hard times in our age, but it is nonetheless a hallmark of the ministry of the Word.