Church of England Diocese of Carlisle Scaleby

Feed my lambs

Last week, I wrote about the opportunities to learn something new during lock down. Well, this last week, I have been learning something new. I’ve been learning to feed the lambs at “Open Spaces”, at William Howard School.

Two small lambs are not being fed by their mothers, and are having to be bottle fed. They are both very hungry and crave the bottled milk. This milk is their lifeline. Without it, they would not survive.

We are still in the season of Easter. In John’s gospel, we read about the risen Lord Jesus re-instating Peter, who had denied Jesus three times. Peter affirms that he loves the Lord. Then, the risen Lord says to Peter, “Feed my lambs.”

Peter’s love for Jesus is to be shown by his care of the flock, … and his providing for them.

Our readings on this Fourth Sunday of Easter are all about sheep. Psalm 23 reminds us that the Lord is my Shepherd. Psalm 23 was written by David, and David, if you remember, started out in life as a shepherd boy.

David writes, “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

But how does the Lord our Shepherd guide us at a time like this? The answer is: from his holy word, the Bible. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

Our second reading this Sunday is 1 Peter 2:

Here, Peter writes to his flock, “Like new born babies, crave pure spiritual milk, … so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, … now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

The new born lambs at the school crave their milk. They come running towards you as soon as you enter the compound because they need the milk. Their lives depend on it.

Peter is telling us that, as Christians, we need to be fed. The “pure spiritual milk” he is referring to is of course the word of God. Peter encourages his readers to crave the milk of God’s holy word.

It is only by feeding continually on God’s word that we Christians are nourished, that we grow up in Christ, and eventually go on to maturity in Christ. Otherwise, we remain forever undernourished.

One hymn we sing before turning to the Bible begins, “Speak, O Lord, as we come to You to receive the food of Your Holy Word.”

One hymn version of Psalm 23 begins: “Faithful shepherd, feed me”.

Christian disciples are to be like those new born lambs, yearning to be fed from the Bible, so that we may become strong and steadfast in the faith.

The gospel reading for this Sunday is John chapter 10, where Jesus says in verse 7 …

“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers.”

Jesus asserts that he is the gate for the sheep, and whoever goes in through him will be saved. He is the gate to heaven. Those who enters through Jesus will find safe pasture, life in all its fullness. As people of God, who know the Lord Jesus, our Good Shepherd and gate for the sheep, may we crave the food of his holy word, so that with confidence we can say with David …

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for YOU are with me; …

… and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Let us pray.

Faithful Shepherd, feed me in the pastures green;

faithful Shepherd, lead me where thy steps are seen.

Hold me fast, and guide me in the narrow way;

so, with thee beside me, I will always stay. Amen.

Take time now to read or memorise a verse from the Bible. Perhaps you could start with Psalm 23.

And, if you have benefited from this message, why not share it with a friend or loved one?

Revd Stephen Robertson

3rd May 2020