Notice the movement here; tend My lambs, shepherd My sheep, and tend My sheep. The three times here is important because it reverses Peter’s three times of denial. That is no accident. The charcoal fire is another symbol of this. Peter denied Him three times before a charcoal fire, and now he is restored three times before a charcoal fire. This, to me, is no accident.
Now, let’s move on and take a look at verses 12 to 17. Here we are going to see that we are shepherds. The real issue here is also going to be related to the issue of love. So, there is a change here, from being fishermen, to moving into the realm of the shepherd or having a pastoral impact on other people.
So, let’s take a look, first of all, at the first 11 verses, which concerns the issue of being ‘fishers of men’. This is an image they could understand, because seven of the twelve disciples were fishermen.
Now, in verse 22, “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’.” Now, not only does He commission them, what does He do? He empowers them to fulfill that which they need to do. Without the Holy Spirit they would not be able to fulfill the commission, but now He empowers them.
Now, going back to the Sabbath in the Old Testament, the Sabbath was given, in the Hebrew Bible, as a day for physical rest and reflection and refreshment, both for men and for their animals.