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Thread: "Feed my Lambs...Feed my Sheep" A look at John 21:15-17

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    Registered User JacobBenAvraham's Avatar
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    "Feed my Lambs...Feed my Sheep" A look at John 21:15-17


    Before we look at these verses, we need to understand the background and the prior events. Yeshua had been crucified and now, resurrected. This was the third time He appeared to his Talmidim (disciples) after leaving the Garden Tomb.

    Here they are, fishing all night on the Sea of Galilee, at times it is called the Sea of Tiberius. They had caught nothing, and then, who should appear on the shore with a small fire and roast fish but Yeshua Himself. We all know the story, he told them to cast the net on the right side of the boat, and they caught many fishes. 153 to be exact. Why is the number 153 mentioned? It is for a reason that it is mentioned. Here is one idea or an understanding of why 153?

    Yeshua is Elohim in the flesh. God on earth who revealed himself by “making bare His Holy Arm” revealing himself to the world, as the Second Adam. Who else would be able to do all those miracles? Yeshua is making an important statement; “Ani Elohim” Hebrew for “I AM God” I Hebrew gematria, the words “Ani Elohim” add up to 153! Here He might have been saying: “Only Elohim can make 153 fishes swim into the net all at once.”

    The John knew at once it was Yeshua by the statement: “It is the LORD.” When they got to the shore, they all had roast fish for breakfast. Now, this is when Yeshua turned to Kefa and commenced the conversation:

    “Simon Bar Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” He said unto him, “Yes LORD, thou knowest that I love thee.” Yeshua responded; “Feed my lambs.” He said unto him the second time; “Simon Bar Jonas, lovest thou me?” and Kefa responded; “Yea LORD, thou knowest that I love thee.” And Yeshua responded; “Feed my sheep.” Yeshua asked him a third time; “Simon Bar Jonas, lovest thou me?” and this time, Kefa felt grieved that Yeshua would ask him a third time the same question. He answered; “LORD, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.” Yeshua replied; “Feed my sheep.”

    We can ask ourselves the following questions; “Why did Yeshua ask Kefa the same question three times?”

    Why did Kefa feel grieved after the third time? Well, I don’t blame him. If your husband or wife asked that question three times, you would probably feel strange inside, as if he or she didn’t believe you.

    One idea is that in the Greek language, which was the accepted and popular language at that time, there are three words for “love;” Eros, Filos, Agape. The “physical love” the “friendship love” (like a kid would “love” his favorite toy, or a goldfish in a bowl, or chocolate kisses) and then “Agape” which is how God loves us, the purest love ever.

    Perhaps, what Yeshua was asking Kefa; “Kefa, do you “agape” me?” and he was responding “I “filos” you.

    Yeshua was looking for the purest form of love from Kefa. I doubt that they were speaking Greek though. In Hebrew, the word for love is “Ahavah” with the verb form “Ahav” Hebrew is generalized, while Greek is very specific. I think that Adonai wants the purest form of love from us as well. After all, He gave up his life for us and paid our sin debt in full.

    The second question; Yeshua first said to “feed my sheep” then “feed my lambs.” Isn’t that the same animal? Yes, it is. The difference is that a “lamb” is a baby sheep under a year old. A sheep is one year old and older, in other words, a mature sheep.

    We know that these statements are not “Peshat” (literal) but “derashic” (moral and spiritual) and we could also say “symbolic” as well. The mission of the Talmidim, as well as for ALL believers is to share, teach the Word of God to all who would listen. The “lambs” are likened unto “young believers in the faith” those who have just been “born again” and are feeding off of the “milk of the Word.” The “sheep” being those who are more mature in the faith, they also need to learn more. Teaching and learning is a life-long calling, It is a “never-ending” mission. Adonai would want that “all believers graduate from “lambs” to “sheep.” This was one of Rav Shaul’s complaint, that some believers were still drinking “milk” when they should be eating “meat”, That some believers were contented to remain lambs instead of growing up and becoming sheep.

    Yeshua is telling Kefa; “Go out and teach, disciple those who know very little of my Word, and to those who are already founded in my Word.” We also must go find both the “lambs” and the “sheep” in God’s family. Finally, Yeshua says in verse 19; “follow me!”

    If we are to follow Yeshua, we need to follow His commandments, be faithful in teaching those young in the faith those who are mature. There is always something new to learn in God’s Word.

    Shalom... Ben Avraham

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    Thank you Rabbi. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

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