Just who is Jude?

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Do you remember the TV show Lost? I was a huge fan of the show. There were certain episodes that would start at the end of the story and work their way to the beginning. I feel I kind of did that here with Jude’s introduction. I started in the middle with Beloved, Called and Kept. Then moved on to Jude’s prayer of blessing for mercy, peace and love. Now let’s try and discover just who the author of Jude is.

Jude is short for Judas or Judah, which was a common name in that era. So it shouldn’t surprise us that there is more than one Judas mentioned in scripture. There is the infamous Judas Iscariot, the apostle that betrayed Jesus (Matt. 10:4). We know he didn’t write Jude because he committed suicide soon after his betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 27). There was another Apostle named Thaddeus (Matt. 10:4; Mk. 3:19), who also went by the name of Judas (Lk. 6:16; Jn. 14:22). We know that it wasn’t this Apostle Judas who wrote Jude because the writer of Jude seems to make a distinction between himself and the apostles (Jude 17). After the Apostle Paul’s conversion, Ananias was told to go to Paul, at that time called Saul, he was at the house of a man named Judas (Acts 9). There was also a Judas, called Barsabas, that was sent with Paul, Barnabas and Silas to inform the Gentile believers of the decision from the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:22). I don’t believe either one of these Judas’ were the writers of Jude, mainly because we are never told that they have a brother named James.

The only other Judas it could be is Judas the brother of Jesus. The Gospels provide us a list of Jesus’ brothers, among them is Judas (Matt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3). The writer of Jude doesn’t identify himself as the brother of Jesus, but he does identify himself as the brother of James (Jude 1), who was also a brother of Jesus. James was very well known as the leader of the Jerusalem church and was referred to as a pillar by the Apostle Paul (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Gal. 1:19; 2:9). So when Jude refers to himself as the brother of James his audience knows exactly who is writing to them, Jude the brother of Jesus.

The Bible doesn’t give us much information about Jesus’ brothers and sisters. But we do know that he had at least four younger brothers and at least two sisters. So Jesus was part of a large family. There are a couple of places in scripture that we can glean some insights concerning Jude.

Jude the Rejector

We know from the Gospels that Jesus’ brothers did not follow him. Honestly they flat out thought he was crazy (Mk. 3:21). Jesus began healing people, telling them He was God and started to develop a following. He even began to call specific disciples to walk with him. When his family saw all of this, it made them nervous, and quite honestly can you blame them? This is Jesus, the brother that grew up with them. I mean we might have thought the same thing. So what do his mother and brothers do? Yes, you guessed it, they plan an intervention. They go find Jesus and he is amongst a large crowd, people began to tell Jesus that his mom and brothers are here. Jesus answers and says, “whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother (Mk. 3:35). We know that his brothers left that day as unbelievers, they rejected Jesus’ message and claims.

We have another recorded instance of Jesus interacting with his brothers (Jn. 7). At this time in Jesus ministry the crowds began to defect and the religious leaders wanted to kill him. Jesus goes to Galilee refraining from going to Judea because it is not his time yet. While in Galilee he runs into his brothers and they have an interesting conversation.

Now if you have brothers this conversation most likely makes sense to you. His brothers basically tell him, “hey Jesus, why are you hiding out here? If you are who you say you are go to Judea and put your works on display. Show the world who you are.” His brothers are not being supporters here, they are being sarcastic, and may I add that they know fully what would happen to Jesus if he went to Judea. They knew that the religious leaders wanted to kill him, everyone did, it was the talk of the town. Yet at this time Jesus’ brothers are not showing support but sarcastically ridiculing Jesus, their half brother, the Son of God. Jude rejected Jesus’ claims before the cross.

From Rejector to Contender

So what happened? How does Jude go from someone who rejected and ridiculed Jesus to writing one of the books in the New Testament? My friends, the Resurrection of Jesus changes everything!

We know from the Gospels that Mary, the mother of Jesus,watched her son experience a grueling death, death on a cross. The Gospels don’t tell us his brothers were around, but we can know for sure that they knew what was going on, everybody in the region did. We can be sure that Mary would have told her sons what she has seen and experienced. I am not sure what is going through their minds at this time- maybe guilt, sadness or relief that the spotlight is off of their family.

The Apostle Paul gives us one line that is the epitome of grace, “Then he appeared to James” (1 Cor. 15:7). I wonder how that went down, did Jesus show up and give James and his brothers the ultimate, “I told you so.” I doubt it, but Jesus does show himself to James, and we can safely assume that his other brothers and sisters, including Jude, were there. The resurrection of Jesus changed everything.

Now, this must be said, Being the brother of Jesus, Jude and his other brothers and sisters would have known Jesus. They grew up with him. I have brothers and sisters, and I could give a list that could fill hundreds of pages of why they are not God. But his family couldn’t point out one fault in our sinless Savior. That is amazing.

After the resurrection we know that no longer were they rejectors but believers and contenders of the Gospel of Jesus. We see that they are among the hundred twenty in the upper room (Acts 1:14). As we mentioned earlier, James became a pillar of the church in Jerusalem and a leader of the early church abroad. He wrote the book of James in the New Testament. Both James and Jude describe themselves as servants of Jesus Christ (Jas. 1:1; Jude 1). They don’t use the title, “brother of our Lord” as The Apostle Paul does, to describe themselves. This may reflect their humility. It certainly reflects on how they viewed their relationship they now have with Jesus.

We also know that Jude became an avid defender of the Gospel. In the book of Jude we have his great exhortation to “contend earnestly” which can also mean to continually fight. Fight for what? The faith, continually fight against those that pervert the Gospel. Continually fight to proclaim truth in the midst of lies, and false teachings in the church and outside the church. Jude went from rejector to contender because the resurrection changes everything.

But in my study of Jude and learning about Jesus’ family I found this one statement in the book of Jude very enlightening, “and have mercy on those who doubt;” (Jude 22). Could it be that Jude, while writing this line, was reflecting on his days before he was a believer. Not only was Jude a contender for the faith against those that pervert the Gospel, but he also knew that there were some who truly struggled with the truth. What does Jude exhort us to do with these that struggle with the truth? “Have mercy on those who doubt.”

Until next week as we look closer at the false teachers Jude is writing of may we become like Jude, contenders for the truth. May we know and love the truth and be avid defenders of it. May we also have mercy on those that honestly struggle with the truth and walk alongside them explaining and loving them and guiding them to the truth as if we are, “snatching them out of the fire;” (Jude 22).

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