COMMISSIONED AT THE SEASHORE
We have seen how the Lord selected Peter and questioned him three times concerning his love. The Lord said in effect, "You go fishing more than all the rest do you love me more than all the rest?" And then He spoke to him with this implication, "Just as I have fed you here with fish and bread, so you must feed My lambs and My sheep. You are not on this earth for fishing—you are commissioned on this earth for shepherding." Matthew precedes and John follows. The sequence is absolutely right. We need Matthew 28, and we also need John 21. John 21 is a supplementary portion, giving us the completion of the Lord’s commission. The Lord has commissioned us not only to disciple the heathen, baptizing them into the reality of the triune God and setting up the kingdom of the heavens on this earth, but also to shepherd His flock. We must feed the little lambs and even the sheep. The Lord is speaking to us, "You take care of My flock; I will take care of your living. You leave the matter of living to Me. I need you to shepherd My flock."
My burden is to share that the Lord Jesus today has a real commission for us, not a religion. Today, even in the U.S.A. how many heathen there are! What they need is not a religion, but a group of people who will realize and execute the Lord’s commission. Please do not read Matthew chapter 28 as an historical record. It is not a history; it is a commission. We all must be burdened by the Lord to disciple the heathen and put them into the triune God, setting up the kingdom of the heavens even here on this earth. But there is also the need of John 21. Without John 21, Matthew 28 will not work so well. After you disciple the heathen, after you baptize them into the reality of the triune God, after the kingdom is set up, the flock still needs to be fed and shepherded. I do have a heavy burden for so many young ones and new ones. Who is going to feed them? Shall we hire graduates from the seminary? Are the leading brothers in the churches going to tend to this? No! The whole church must do it. We are all commissioned. On one hand we must disciple the heathen and make them citizens of the kingdom of heaven on this earth. Then, on the other hand, we must consider them the lambs, the little ones, the weaker ones in the kingdom, who need feeding. We must feed them. This is not just the responsibility of the leading ones, but of every member in the local churches. We all must bear the burden. I’m so happy for the increase in the churches, but I’m also very much concerned for the increase. If this matter of feeding is not accomplished in a full way, the increase will be a heavy burden to the church life. Instead of going up, the church life will go down. There is an urgent need that we be charged not only with Matthew 28, but also with John 21, not only to disciple the heathen, but also to feed the lambs.
To disciple the heathen we need the authority, but to feed the lambs, we need the love towards the Lord. In Matthew 28, the Lord’s tone was one of authority, and with that He charged the disciples. But in John 21 His tone is changed. "Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these?" If so, "Feed my lambs." Don’t exercise your authority over the lambs. If you do that, you will frighten them away. You must love them, not with your love, but with the love with which you love the Lord Jesus. Why should you feed the younger ones and care for the weaker ones? Simply because you love the Lord Jesus. If we really love Him, there is no other way but to feed others. And by doing this, we follow Him. We must follow Him not in the way of religion, but in the way of feeding His lambs till He comes back.
Matthew says, "Be charged, be commissioned to disciple the nations until the completion of this age." John says, "Love the Lord, feed His lambs, and follow Him till He returns." It is really good. In what way may we prove our love for the Lord Jesus? Feed His lambs. Feed His sheep. And this is the proper way for us to follow Him.
We remember how Peter turned and saw John and said to the Lord, "What shall this man do?" The Lord Jesus answered him, "Forget about him. That’s My business, not yours. You just follow Me." We should not care what others will do; we must make a personal and direct deal with the Lord ourselves.
The Lord Jesus met with His disciples on the mountaintop and at the seashore, in the place which He appointed and at the place to which they backslid. Regardless, He met with them to fulfill His purpose, and in both places they enjoyed His presence in a full way. On the mountaintop He committed to them His all-inclusive authority beyond their understanding. On the seashore He cared for all their needs beyond their expectation. On the mountaintop He commissioned them to disciple the nations, baptizing them into the triune God. On the seashore He challenged Peter to love Him, charged Him to feed His lambs and sheep, and bade him follow Him to the end of his life. In all these dealings of the resurrected Christ, we can see nothing in the nature of any kind of religion. All the Lord in resurrection would do is to commission us with His authority to bring people into God and demand that we love Him that we may be burdened to feed His flock, thus following Him to the end of our life journey. This is all we need today in His recovery—to share His authority, to disciple the heathen by baptizing them into God, to love Him more than others, to feed His lambs and sheep, and to follow Him at any cost, even at the cost of our life, regardless of what others shall do. This is to experience the resurrected Christ, to minister Him to others and to share Him with others. It is altogether a matter of Christ and Christ alone, nothing at all of religion.
(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)