What motivates Jesus-followers to serve others? To find out, let’s look at a key conversation between Jesus and Peter. (This is a devotion excerpted from Once-a-Day Men and Women of the Bible Devotional.)
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time … Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” -John 21:17
Much has been made of the question Jesus asked Peter three times: “Do you love me?” Pastors and teachers talk about how this question intentionally parallels Peter’s three denials of Christ. Others stress the different Greek words translated as “love” in this passage. But we must also recognize the emphasis Jesus placed on ministering to others.
“Feed my sheep,” Jesus said each time Peter affirmed his love for Christ. If Peter really loved Jesus, he would care for those who belong to Jesus. Notice that not once did Jesus ask Peter if he loved Jesus’ sheep. The bottom-line motivation for ministry was and is love for Jesus and a willingness to act.
There is another message here as well. “Even if you have failed,” Jesus seems to be saying, “I can still use you in the lives of others.”