A CALL FOR THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD OF MESSIAH TO SERVE! - John 21:15-23

5th of the 4th month 2016/2017

Shabbat Shalom,

Mattithyahu/Matthew 9:36-38 “And having seen the crowds, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, as sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His taught ones, “The harvest truly is great, but the workers are few. 38 “Pray then that the Master of the harvest would send out workers to His harvest.

As a result of idolatry that has been highly promoted by false prophets and diviners of evil, many have wandered away from the truth and are left stranded without a Shepherd, as we looked at last week in the message I gave from Zeḵaryah/Zechariah 10 and our need to ask יהוה for rain. With rain comes the promise of a harvest and we take note that our Master has indeed come down like rain and here in these words of our Master and Elohim, יהושע Messiah, we take note of the urgent need for workers to be sent out, and herein lies the call for true servants of Messiah to stand up and work the harvest fields! In a message tonight called, ‘A CALL FOR THE ROYAL PRIESTHOOD OF MESSIAH TO SERVE!’ I would like to encourage your ears to hear our Master’s call and equipping of your life so that you can be found to be about His business, when He comes! Kěpha tells us in his first letter what the goal of our belief is: the deliverance of lives!

(Kěpha Aleph/1 Peter 1:9)

The Greek word that is translated as ‘goal’, as in ‘goal of our belief’ is τέλος telos – Strong’s G5056 which means, an end, toll, continually, finished, fulfilment, goal, outcome and this word carries the understanding of setting out for a definite point or goal. This word is also used in:

Romiyim/Romans 11:4 “For Messiah is the goal of the ‘Torah unto righteousness’ to everyone who believes.

Sadly we take note of how most translations have rendered this word as ‘end’, with the false teaching that the obligation to walk in the Torah of Elohim has come to an end because Messiah has fulfilled all! While our Master is indeed the goal and end purpose of the Torah we know that this does not set aside our obligation of obedience as a royal set-apart priesthood! As we pursue and walk in complete set-apartness we must recognise what the goal of end purpose of our belief is! It is the deliverance of lives!

Deliverance in the Greek is the word σωτηρία sōtēria – Strong’s G4991 which means, deliverance, salvation, and comes from the word σωτήρ sōtēr – Strong’s G4990 which means, a saviour, deliverer, which is from the word σῴζω sōzō – Strong’s G4982 which means, to save, restore, make whole, heal.

This Greek word σωτηρία sōtēria – Strong’s G4991 is used in the LXX of Yeshayahu/Isaiah 63:8, in translation of the Hebrew word ‘מוֹשִׁיעַ’ (Moshiya), which is translated as ‘their Saviour’!

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 63:8 “And He said, “They are My people, children who do not act falsely.” And He became their Saviour.

Why I am sharing this with you is to highlight that we are to be TRUE WITNESSES of who our Saviour is, and for more on this please see the article called “YHWH our Saviour – YHWH our Messiah!” on our site (http://atfotc.com) which can be found under the ‘articles’ menu, or by simply clicking on the following link:

http://atfotc.com/index.php/2012-04-19-08-30-28/view/512-yhwh-our-saviour

There are many who are breathing out lies as they are not bearing the true witness of the True Witness, by denying that יהושע Messiah is the very manifestation, in the flesh, of the esteem of יהוה, our Master and Elohim!

Those who deny that יהושע Messiah came in the flesh are of the anti-messiah and are betrayers who are breathing out lies! The goal of our belief is to be a true witness of Messiah and make His Kingdom known to many who are stranded and without a Shepherd! This call is an urgent call as it requires a focused approach on the proper service of a royal priesthood that shines the Light of the Truth in a darkened world where depravity is increasing at an alarming rate and many are wandering about like sheep that have no Shepherd and are not being fed and nourished with the Truth and they do not even know it as most have been blinded by false traditions and empty teachings of man that are not able to equip a proper serving priesthood! In this call for the royal priesthood of Messiah, which we are, to serve, I would like to take a closer look at the words that our Master spoke to Kěpha, after His resurrection. Please turn with me to Yoḥanan/John 21:15-23 (read)

This passage is certainly a very well-known one and is a great passage that can encourage and equip us to stand up and be the royal set-apart priesthood that we are to be, especially as we take a closer look at this discussion that takes place between Messiah and Kěpha.

Kěpha was a man who had suffered a great deal of discouragement and shame for denying Messiah 3 times before His death and in this interaction that takes place we are able to see a powerful restoration taking place and a clear commitment to serve the Master without wavering, as he had done before! How many times have you felt extremely discouraged and unable to properly serve the Master as you should due to many wrong choices that have caused you to compromise your belief when faced with extreme pressures from crippling circumstances or the corrupt influence of bad company that you may have kept?

This passage can, in many ways, be a powerful mirror before each and every one of us as we look intently into the mirror of the Word and be sober in our estimation of our love for the Master!

Kěpha was the one who confessed that יהושע is the Messiah, the Son of the Living Elohim! It was on this clear confession that our Master said He would build His assembly. Kěpha was one of the 3 that witnessed the transfiguration of Messiah and he also had his taxes paid by the miracle of יהושע providing their temple tax from a fish’s mouth. Kěpha was the one who made the very bold statement that he would never stumble:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 26:33 “And Kěpha answering, said to Him, “Even if all stumble in You, I shall never stumble.

I will never stumble, even if everyone else does, I will not”, is what Kěpha said and then יהושע told Kěpha that he would deny Him that very night and he boldly said that he would not, and so did all the taught ones say the same thing!

This ‘rock’ of a man crumbled that very night and he was devastated when he heard the cock crow after he had denied the Messiah 3 times and he wept bitterly! Have you ever felt so distraught for making bold statements of faith only to find that you blow your witness so quickly? In one breath you are proclaiming great praise and confidence in your walk of set-apartness and the next you find yourself in denial as your belief in the Master is brought to question under trying circumstances which cause you to stumble!

Can you consider for a moment what this night must have been like for Kěpha? He was extremely bold until the test of his boldness came and he failed and left that place as a defeated man. In this passage that we have in Yoḥanan/John 21 we see a complete restoration of belief taking place, along with a very bold confession of love for the Master! This time Kěpha confirmed his love for Messiah 3 times as opposed to denying it and was even told what kind of death he would face and this did not deter his renewed boldness in the Master who came to confirm his calling! As you read this entire chapter you can see the renewed zeal and confidence that Kěpha had as he plunged into the sea when they saw יהושע standing on the beach.

In this short conversation that the Master had with Kěpha we are able to see some powerful lessons that can equip us in being bold ambassadors of His Kingdom. This was not only a reinstatement of Kěpha’s role of shepherding and feeding the flock of Messiah but it was also a call to a royal priesthood in the order of Malkitseḏeq! Before His death and resurrection, Messiah had called them when He was in the role of the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world and now, after His resurrection and the sprinkling of the heavenly tabernacle with His own blood, as High Priest forever, the body of Messiah could now be ordained to serve as a royal priesthood!

This was not only a reinstatement of Kěpha but was also a clear call to care for, encourage, equip, strengthen and build up the body of Messiah in the most Set-Apart belief!

As we look at the 3 times that Messiah asked Kěpha if he loved Him we are able to glean some valuable insight and wisdom in allowing the Word to be the very mirror that continually asks us if we love our Master!

Kěpha was called and questioned about his love and commitment to the Master after they had been fishing. What is worth taking note of is that the first time that Kěpha was called to follow Messiah was when he was casting nets into the sea to catch fish. Once again Kěpha was being called to be a fisher of men and take care of them as a good servant of Messiah! Let us take a brief look at the three times Kěpha was asked if he loved Messiah!

1) “Do you love Me more than these?”

The Greek word that is used here for ‘love’ is the verb ἀγαπάω agapaō – Strong’s G25 which means, to love, welcome and entertain, be fond of, to be contented at or with a thing. While many may think that they know what love means, Scripture makes it very clear to us what ‘the love for Elohim’ is:

Yoḥanan Aleph/1 John 5:2-3By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and guard His commands. 3 For this is the love for Elohim, that we guard His commands, and His commands are not heavy

Messiah asks Kěpha whether he loved Messiah more than ‘these’, and here we can take note that the ‘these’ can refer to:

1) The fish that he had caught, which can represent for us one’s career or work;

2) His friends – he was back to fishing with some of the other guys. We know from Scripture that Kěpha was a leader that many had followed and with him going back to fishing others may have followed him too and highlights for us the power of influence that we can have on others or what others can have on us and here Kěpha may have been called to question whether he loved Messiah more than his friends! This is a valid question as we see how many are easily influenced by their friends who turn away from following Messiah which causes their love for Messiah to be brought into question.

3) His familyKěpha may have gone back to the family business that he was originally called from in order to follow Messiah.

Luqas/Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and his own life too, he is unable to be My taught one.

While this may sound harsh the same question of whether we love Messiah more than ‘these’ is asked to all of us as we realise that we can never allow family, friends or career to be that which hinders our love for the Master; and by that I mean that we must never allow family, friends or work/career to cause us to neglect our ability to love Elohim by guarding His commands! Many may claim that they love Messiah more than these, as Kěpha did, yet they often find themselves breaking Sabbath or any other commands for the sake of family, friends or work and so reveal by their actions that they do not love the Master more than these!

Kěpha answers, “Yes, Master, You know that I love You.

The Greek word that is used here for ‘love’ is φιλέω phileō – Strong’s G5368 which means, to love, kiss. While many have tried to find the significance in the different use of these words for love (ἀγαπάω agapaō – Strong’s G25 and φιλέω phileō – Strong’s G5368), it is difficult to do so as both are used in reference to Elohim’s love for man as well as man’s love for Elohim.

The answer that Messiah gives Kěpha is, ‘Feed My lambs’.

The Greek word that is translated here as ‘feed’ comes from the word βόσκω boskō – Strong’s G1006 which means, to feed sheep, to pasture and tend while grazing.

The Greek word that is translated as ‘lambs’ comes from the word ἀρνίον arnion – Strong’s G721 which means, lamb, little lamb.

This word is used 30 times in the Renewed Writings (N.T.) and we take note that it is used for the first time here in this text from Yoḥanan/John 21:15 and the other 29 times it is used in the Book of Ḥazon/Revelation, with 28 times it being used in reference to The Lamb, יהושע Messiah and once in reference to the beast who had two horns like a lamb and spoke like a dragon. When we consider the use of this word being primarily of Messiah then there is no doubt that what is meant here by the phrase ‘My lambs’ is the assembly/body of Messiah as being the object of the loving care of יהושע Messiah that must be properly lived out by His taught ones!

Kěpha is then asked a second time by the Master whether he loves Him, which he responds positively to and is then told to “shepherd my sheep”. The Greek word that is used here for ‘shepherd’ is ποιμαίνω poimainō – Strong’s G4165 which means, act as a shepherd, care for, tend, feed. While this word and βόσκω boskō – Strong’s G1006 means ‘feed’, the word ποιμαίνω poimainō – Strong’s G4165 implies the whole office of the shepherd in guiding, guarding and governing of the flock as well as leading it to nourishment.

The Greek word that is used here for ‘sheep’ is πρόβατον probation – Strong’s G4263 which means, sheep, sheepfold and is understood as being any four footed, tame animal accustomed to graze. This word is derived from the word προβαίνω probainō – Strong’s G4260 which means, to go forward, go before, walk ahead

This second charge given to Kěpha was to not only feed the little lambs but also shepherd the sheep and highlights for us the need to nurture new converts and lead them to the good teachings of the Word while also strengthening the more mature and seasoned ones who already know how to walk ahead!

The third time that Kěpha is questioned about his love for Messiah he is instructed to ‘feed the sheep’. The Greek word that is used for ‘feed’ is the same word used when told to ‘feed the lambs’, which is βόσκω boskō – Strong’s G1006 and the same word is used here for sheep - πρόβατον probation – Strong’s G4263.

What we see here is that a powerful progression is used here to draw out of Kěpha the depth of his love for Messiah, despite being saddened by this continual question. This was an ordination of stewardship as a faithful servant of Messiah who is committed to leading others to Messiah as well as strengthening and equipping those who are already in Messiah!

There is great encouragement we can take from this event that took place between Kěpha and our Master as we see the invitation and call to follow being restored, after Kěpha had denied the Master 3 times. This can also teach us about proper set-apartness and stewardship and the responsibility we have in understanding the goal of our belief, which is the deliverance of lives and the need to make taught ones of the nations, pictured through the feeding and tending of lambs and sheep!

This is a clear lesson of stewardship and the responsibility that we have toward each other in the body! While Kěpha was certainly a good leader and recognised as such amongst the taught ones, we see that in these instructions that he is given here to feed the lambs and shepherd and feed the sheep, Kěpha is taught that his calling does not give him license to dominate or rule over others in a vindictive way but that he is called to serve in love, with the deliverance of lives always being the clear goal of the belief in Messiah!

While many may argue that this was a call given only to Kěpha and not the others we must take note that the clear commission that is given to all taught ones of the Master is to go and make other taught ones of the nations and to do that successfully we must also allow our Master to question our love for Him and take heed to His instructions to feed and shepherd others too!

When we look in to the mirror of the Word we must allow the question “Do you love Me?” to come through each time and in the process of answering truthfully we must recognise the proper manner that displays the skills of a set-apart one who can rightly divide the Truth by walking in complete obedience to the commands of our Master and Elohim, יהושע Messiah.

Many of us may find that we have also been like Kěpha who had made big and bold statements of faith/belief only to find that our words and actions did not quite line up when faced with the test of obedience. This passage ought to encourage each and every one of us to dust of any patterns of unbelief from the past and pursue apartness, expressing our zealous love for our Master and Elohim in committed obedience and the urgent call to feed and shepherd others in the Truth!

This time when Kěpha was told the kind of death he would face he does not waver in unbelief! What is also interesting to take note of is in the question that Kěpha asks the Master about the ‘taught one that יהושע loved’. He was basically asking Messiah about how Yoḥanan would die or if he too would face what Kěpha would face and Messiah makes it clear that it should not matter to him about what would happen to others as what should matter is that he follows Messiah!

This teaches us that we all must work out our deliverance with fear and trembling and not try to assess the battles we face against each other, for we each may face different kinds of battles and sufferings! What is important is that we all follow Messiah!

The Greek word translated as ‘follow’ in verses 19 & 22 is ἀκολουθέω akoloutheō – Strong’s G190 which comes from: Α, α alpha – Strong’s G1 which is the first letter of the Greek language and is used here as a participle of union, along with the word κέλευθος keleuthos – which means, a road, or way and therefore this word ἀκολουθέω akoloutheō expresses the intention to ‘follow closely or going behind someone who leads the way’ or to attend, to accompany, to go with or follow a teacher.

To follow Messiah is not for those who just want to go for a stroll to see what happens – it is a commitment to walk and live as He walked and lived as a perfect example for us to follow! You cannot follow the Master if you are not girded about with truth and have not put on righteousness, as you will be unable to walk as He walked!

As we consider the reinstatement of Kěpha and the restoration of his bold faith we too must consider carefully how we answer our Master’s question of our love for Him and hear the call for the true royal priesthood of Messiah to stand up and serve, feeding and shepherding others as we do build each other up in the Most Set-Apart faith!

This is a call for the royal priesthood of Messiah to love Messiah and show it as the deliverance of lives becomes the goal of our belief!

Sha’ul ends his letter to the believers in Ephesos with the following words:

Eph’siyim/Ephesians 6:24 “Favour be with all those who love our Master יהושע Messiah, undecayingly! Aměn

Let the mirror of the Word cause us to make an honest assessment of our love for the Master and be encouraged to love him ‘undecayingly’!!! The Greek word that is translated as ‘undecayingly’ is ἀφθαρσία aphtharsia – Strong’s G861 which means, incorruptibility, imperishable, purity, sincerity, incapacity for corruption! What this word actually signifies for us is the ability to walk upright and in integrity without wavering in unbelief. We have all had moments where unbelief got the better of us and may have found ourselves saddened by our lack of belief, especially when it was needed.

The harvest is great and the workers are few! Will you love Messiah undecayingly and go and work the harvest field as you feed and shepherd the lambs and sheep of Messiah, leading them to His Truth!

Let us take encouragement from Kěpha’s discussion with the Master and hear the call for pure set-apartness and belief to not be compromised in any way as we take up the call of a royal priesthood in Messiah and love Him undecayingly!!!

 

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!