From Fisherman to Shepherd – Peter’s New Commission

In John chapter 21 the story is told of Peter fishing when he should have been waiting for Jesus. With the death of Jesus and the uncertain state of affairs Peter faced a key question: What was he meant to do with his life? Was he really meant to go back to fishing?\r\n\r\nJesus answered the question for him. Peter was to change vocation – from fisherman to shepherd.\r\n\r\nIt’s interesting that at the beginning of his ministry Jesus called Peter and said “you’re a fisherman, I’ll make you a fisher of men.”\r\n\r\nBy the end of his ministry Jesus said to Peter, “I’m a shepherd, now you be a shepherd.”\r\n\r\nIn the first case, Jesus, who wasn’t a fisherman, worked with what Peter could offer – his natural skills and training as an expert fisherman. That’s good leadership on Jesus’ part – recognising natural gifts and using them as an entry into ministry.\r\n\r\nBut Jesus didn’t leave him there.\r\n\r\nJesus offered Peter the opportunity to do something he had never done before, a  new purpose in an area where Peter didn’t have outstanding natural abilities.\r\n\r\nThis time Jesus was the expert and Peter was the novice.\r\n\r\nIn the church we love people with expertise. We generally think that anyone with a natural ability will be able to keep using that skill to  ‘keep the show on the road’. But Jesus’ doesn’t just want our expertise. He wants us to reach a point where he can say right, now take on something that’s not so natural, something you will have to grow into.\r\n\r\nIt might be praying for people to be healed. It might be developing a prophetic gift, or going out on a mission team. It might mean leaving the comfort of working in area where your natural competence brings you satisfaction and even recognition and the pride of a job well done. You never know, it might mean becoming a shepherd.\r\n\r\nThe abilities Peter needed to fulfil this new vocation were latent in him waiting to be developed (and quickly – the church was about to be born in a dramatic fashion) but he had the same three teachers that we have today to help him.\r\n


  • He had the model of Jesus to examine and reflect  upon.
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  • He would also have the Holy Spirit within him guiding him.
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  • And he would have his fellow Christians to support and help him.
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\r\nSo, are you looking for new purpose or direction? Peter’s story reminds us that when Jesus gives us a new purpose we shouldn’t assume it’s something we know about or have done before.

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