Jesus' Disciples: Jude / Thaddeus

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 28, 2020 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

As we discussed last week when I wrote about Judas Iscariot, the names Judas and Jude are basically used interchangeably, similar to a name with its nickname. That may be why this Jude that we’re looking at today also goes by another name as well since he wouldn’t want to be confused for the traitor Judas Iscariot.

In both Matthew 10:2-4 and Mark 3:16-19, he is listed as Thaddaeus. In Luke 6:13-16, he is listed as Judas the son of James. Some scholars also give him the name Lebbaeus, which may be like a last name for him, but Thaddaeus or Jude are definitely the most common names used for this man.

Jude is also mentioned in Acts 1:12-14: “Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” We see here that he has stuck with the other apostles through Jesus’ death and resurrection, and this passage is just after Jesus ascended into heaven.

In Jesus’ long discourse on promising the Holy Spirit in John 14, this Jude is the one who speaks up and asks, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?” (verse 22). Other than simply being listed along with the other apostles, that is Jude’s only specific mention in the whole of the gospels and the book of Acts.

This Jude is also believed to be the same one who wrote the letter of Jude. That letter starts out with the introduction of, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James” (verse 1a). The name Jude or Judas was very popular in New Testament times, as was the name James, so using these two very common names to try and figure out the author’s real identity is a bit of a challenge. But since this Jude was referred to as the brother of James elsewhere in the New Testament, it is likely that same person.

The question is, was this Jude the same one as the half brother of Jesus? Jesus also had a half brother named James, so it is a possibility. If so, it’s believed that Jude didn’t recognize Jesus as the Messiah until after the resurrection. Or was this Jude the one who was also known as James the Less? James the Less is commonly called the son of Alphaeus, but we only see Jude identified by his brother, not his father. Scholars disagree on who the author of the letter of Jude really is, though it is still considered to be inspired Scripture.

So even if we don’t know all that much about who Jude was, what can we learn about being a disciple of Jesus from him? One thing we can learn is that we don’t all need to stand out from the crowd in order to follow Jesus. Many of Jesus’ disciples are well-known, but not everyone has to be a Peter or a John. Some people are called to be leaders and be outspoken; others are not. Perhaps Jude was an introvert and wanted to keep to himself more, the opposite of the clearly extroverted Peter.

But even if Jude didn’t do much to stand out from the rest of the apostles, he still kept following Jesus. We know he stuck with the apostles after Jesus was no longer bodily on earth, and perhaps he even wrote the letter of Jude. According to tradition, Jude died as a martyr in 65 AD, so he clearly kept the faith and kept following Jesus, even if we don’t know a lot about him and his life.

The other discipleship lesson we can learn from Jude comes from his one specific question that’s recorded in John 14:22, mentioned earlier. He clearly didn’t understand Jesus’ mission, as he didn’t understand why Jesus would reveal so much of His identity to His apostles but not to the rest of the world at that time. Jesus’ answer to him is: “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (verses 23-24).

Jesus is essentially saying that He doesn’t need to reveal Himself to the whole world in a dramatic fashion; that will be done by those who love Him, His disciples. We who follow Jesus will reveal Him and His love to the whole world. When we obey the teachings of Jesus, that is how we show the world who He is. Jesus didn’t need to make a grand production of showing Himself as God because that’s what He was training His followers to do - including us.

We need to learn from Jude that we need to be Jesus’ example to the world. He does not need to reveal Himself directly to the world in some fantastic fashion, because He has all of us to follow His commands and show the world His love. How are you doing at that in your own life?

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