Focus – A Commission and a Cross
By Major Anne Pickup –
For the Messenger’s of God’s Love, who became special to me through the many hours we shared together in the classroom at the College for Officer Training:
As you receive your commission and ordination, I have a final lesson from Scripture. Please turn to John 21.
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep…and follow me!”
At a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus, Peter had a life-changing breakfast on the beach of Galilee. Here, he received both a commission and a cross. Not with flags waving and bands playing, but in gentle conversation with his Savior, Peter stepped into a new life that changed him and countless others forever.
Through a series of questions–“Do you love me?”–Peter is led into a three fold challenge concerning the care of the flock of God. In response to the first question, Jesus delegates the care and feeding of “little lambs” to Peter. Using words that refer to the herdsman who is responsible for the feeding of the flock, the implication is–care for young converts in the faith. The commission is to bring people to faith in Christ. Just as Peter was the primary evangelist in the early church, you Messenger’s of God’s Love must never lose sight of your first calling–bringing lost lambs to Jesus.
Secondly, Jesus charges Peter to “feed my sheep.” The Greek word for “feed” is “poimaine” from which we get “pastor.” The commission is now to a fuller dimension of ministry–pastoring the flock of God. Peter became pastor of the church in Jerusalem. Messenger’s of God’s Love, whether you go to a corps, an ARC, social services or an administrative position–you will have a flock. Pastor them. Feed, lead and disciple them as a shepherd cares for the sheep.
The third commission sounds the same but had a far reaching dimension. “Feed my sheep” now indicates a maturity in the sheep and the shepherd. Faithfulness in small matters generally leads to challenges in larger areas. Peter didn’t just pastor a flock in Jerusalem, his wisdom and spiritual depth impacted all Christians. His vision of ministry spread the gospel throughout the world. He wrote two epistles that speak to us today. “Messenger’s of God’s Love,” who knows where God will take you as you mature in faith and ministry!
Please note, Jesus always said, “my sheep.” Although you will be responsible, the flock belongs to God. Amazingly God entrusts his precious sheep to us. Tread carefully. Walk in love, truth and grace!
Just as breakfast ended, Peter looked at John. Since Peter had his appointment…what about John? Jesus replied, “What is that to you…follow me!” Peter was to obey Jesus regardless of what happened to John. Jesus wanted obedient “followship,” not comparisons or competition. Elmer Towns says, “Jesus deals with each Christian individually in ways that other believers may not understand and about which they should not ask questions.”
Both Peter and John followed Jesus but their paths went in different directions, determined by God. As cadets, you came to CFOT with the same calling. You have shared the same training experience, but now, you take your own cross. God will give you each a place to serve, your own ministries, struggles, joys and victories. Your commission comes with an individual cross, but…
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” Hebrews 12:2