Unexpected Leader

“Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’”—John 21:17 (NKJV)

“Feed My sheep.” There’s so much more being said in these three words than the command we see on the surface.

If we rewind the tape to just a few days earlier, we would see that Peter was doing everything within his power to disassociate from Jesus. Christ had been arrested and was about to be executed. His followers were now marked men. When people start putting Peter together with Jesus, he fully denies all that he knows to be true.    

“That calling that has consumed my life for the past couple of years, that commitment to leave all for the sake of living a radically different life; all that talk about the future, God’s Kingdom, Heaven; that Man who I had just sworn my undying devotion to a few hours ago . . . never mind!”

If that wasn’t bad enough, Luke 22:60 tells us that at the very moment when Peter denies Jesus for the third time, a rooster crows, just as Jesus predicted it would (Luke 22:34). Oh yeah, Jesus was also being led away to be tortured and executed at that same moment and He locked eyes with Peter (Luke 22:61)!

Can you even imagine! This is one of those life-defining moments that can haunt a person all the way to the grave. A point of no return, a “game over,” a dot on our timeline that we forever wish we could go back and do over.  

And guess what? Jesus gives Peter the ultimate do-over. For starters, He does something completely unprecedented by resurrecting from the dead! Then, He forgives Peter and receives him. But then, knowing that Peter’s wounds run deeper than anyone else’s, Jesus restores him by giving him three opportunities to reaffirm his love. And after the third time, He utters these three words: “Feed My sheep.”  

They must have hit Peter’s heart like a sledgehammer. Not only was he forgiven and loved, but he was also entrusted and commissioned. “Peter, I want you to be the shepherd now.” Do you think Peter expected to hear that? Hardly. But by His great grace, Jesus had appointed an unexpected shepherd to feed His flock, a shepherd who would understand the power of God’s love and forgiveness first hand.

Peter wouldn’t have been our choice, but he was the Lord’s choice, and as it turns out, the perfect choice. Guess what, He’s chosen you, too! Nothing you’ve done is beyond His love and forgiveness. Receive this truth and rest in knowing that He wants to use your life in the most unexpected ways.    

DIG: What was Jesus really telling Peter when He said, “Feed My sheep”?

DISCOVER: Why did Jesus say this to Peter?


DISPLAY: How does the Lord want to use your life?       

About the Author

Pastor Dan Hickling

Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.