The Apostles had given up everything to follow Christ. They forsook their families, possessions, and professions. Fishing was a shared livelihood among most of them. After Christ was crucified, the Apostles probably weren’t exactly sure what to do next. Peter decides he’s going to go back to what he knows: fishing. Many of the other disciples think it’s a pretty good idea and tag along.
Their fishing doesn’t go too well. They don’t catch anything. Thankfully, Jesus appears on the shore and directs them to a good spot. Not knowing who He really is, they cast in their net and catch so many fish that they can’t pull it all in. At this point, Peter realizes that the man is Jesus and, in his usual nature, puts on his coat and jumps overboard to swim to Him. Jesus, being the awesome guy that He is, cooks them a bit of breakfast from the fish.
As they’re sitting, Christ asks Peter, “lovest thou me more than these?” Peter answers Him, saying that of course he loves Him. Jesus replies, “Feed my lambs.” He then asks Peter a second time, “lovest thou me?” Peter answers again, “Thou knowest that I love thee.” Jesus tells him to feed His sheep.
Jesus then decides to get stern. Perhaps His voice carried a rebuking tone.
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)
As Peter denied Him thrice, Christ allows His disciple, three times, to accept Him. But more importantly, Jesus is trying to get something through to Peter. He asked Peter the first time if he loved Him “more than these.” More than the fish. More than the boats and the sea. More than the job and the money.
“Do you love me more than your own life, Peter?” That is essentially what Christ asked him.
Peter answered, “Of course, Lord, You know that I love You.”
“Then why were you out on your boat, Peter? Get to work. Feed my sheep.”
Christ didn’t call His disciples for a season. He didn’t call them until He would eventually die. He called them for forever. When He said “follow me”, He meant forever. No more boats. No more fish.
The same goes for the followers of Christ of all kinds. Whether you’re an apostle or the guy down the street, it doesn’t matter. Jesus Christ has told us, “come follow me.” He doesn’t mean for a few days, or a few months, or a few years. He doesn’t mean until things get rough. He doesn’t mean until we get bored or when we have nothing better to do. He means forever. No more boats. No more fish.
“Feed my sheep” is what He has told us. When one becomes a follower of Jesus Christ, there is no turning back the old life and the old ways. It is an eternal calling, an eternal duty, and one that I am happy to have placed on my shoulders. I’m not perfect, that’s for certain. We all have things that are difficult to let go or put aside for a better time. Thankfully, Christ will not leave us. He has told us to feed His sheep, but He will always be alongside us to aid us in that task.
From the words of Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet,
I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. (1 Nephi 3:7)