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John 21:15–19 (NRSV) When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
The three questions and affirmations of Jesus mirror the three denials of Peter (John 18:15-18, 25-17).  Jesus is using this moment to restore Peter to complete fellowship with Him.  He invites Peter to reaffirm everything he had denied.
Jesus uses 2 words translated as love in English.  In the first two questions, Jesus used the word agapao, and in the third phileo.  Peter responds to all 3 questions with phileo.  The words are synonymous.  The focus of Jesus’ exchange with Peter was not on the quality of Peter’s love, but on Peter’s commission as a pastor and teacher.
Jesus charges Peter with “feeding the flock”, and “shepherding the flock.”  Feeding is used figuratively of the Christian teacher meaning to instruct, to teach the believers under his care.  The Greek word for shepherding comes from the root noun for a shepherd, poiman.  The English word pastor implies the same kind of relationship.
Just as the shepherd has the job of leading, feeding and caring for the flock, so the pastor’s job is also to lead, feed, and protect and care for those under his or her care, the flock of Jesus, our Great Shepherd.
Peter may have been reflecting on Jesus’ words in 1 Peter 5:2-4 (NLT):
Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.
Lord, our Great Shepherd, help us to do the work to which you have assigned us as pastors and undershepherds.  Help us to care for the flock, watching over them, and leading them by your word and example.  Help us to faithfully feed them the word of God, both the milk and the meat, each in their correct time.  Help us to lead them where you would take them.  And help them be willing to follow.  And help us to be a good example for those under our care.  In the name of our Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

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