The three commands, although translated the same, are slightly different: (1) “Pasture (tend) the lambs” in Greek denotes continuous tending, feeding and caring for animals. We are referred to as sheep throughout Scripture. Jesus is both our Good Shepherd and The Door of the sheepfold. By describing His people as lambs, He is emphasizing their nature as immature and vulnerable and needs tending and care; (2) “Tend my sheep.” Jesus was emphasizing tending the sheep in a supervisory capacity, not only feeding but ruling over them; (3) “pasture (tend) the sheep” clarifies the job of the shepherd of the flock of God. They are to tend, care for, and provide spiritual food for God’s people, in continual action to nourish and care for their souls, bringing them into the fullness of spiritual maturity.
The food with which shepherds are to feed the flock of God is no other than the Word of God. Peter declares that Christians are to desire the Word so that by it, we can mature in our salvation (1 Peter 2:2).
Reflecting on this passage made us focus on following Christ, on listening to His call. We needed to rest our hearts on God’s grace alone because we knew our own efforts will eventually fail us. We soon realized that God gave us the best couples we could ever pastor and shepherd. They have enriched our lives more than we could expect and imagine. The many months of shared laughter and tears while serving the Lord with these wonderful couples have got to be the best times of our lives. Despite our imperfections, we are able to go about our work as heirs to the throne of God’s grace, as his very own sons and daughters. As we continue to feed our flock on God’s word, we are able to declare, as Peter did, our love for the Lord Jesus.