These Guys Changed The World? Part 10 (Thaddeus)

Posted: November 29, 2015 in Gospel of Matthew
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Matthew 10:1-4
These Guys Changed the World? Part 10 (Thaddeus)

Thaddeus (also referred to as Saint Jude in the Catholic church) is believed to have been the nickname or surname of Judas. There is some confusion as to whether Thaddeus was the brother or son of James but it is known that they were related. Thaddeus was not a leader of the twelve disciples and he is not mentioned often throughout The Bible. He is believed to have brought the gospel message of Jesus Christ to Armenia and it is believed that he was martyred there while evangelizing. Although there is no general consensus among Christian scholars and researchers, there are a number of scholars who believe it is Thaddeus, equally well-known as Jude, who wrote the next to last book of the New Testament, the Book of Jude. I think that the lack of valid evidence otherwise would lead us to believe that Jude (Thaddeus) was the author of this book. Therefore, his book gives us a look at this apostle who helped change the world.

The book of Jude is a General Epistle (Apostolic Letter). The author is Jude the brother of James, both of who are half-brothers of Jesus Christ. Jude wrote it circa 75 A.D. The purpose of this book is to address false teachings and to illustrate a contrast between the error of heresy and the truth of Jesus Christ. Jude consists of only one chapter.

• In verses 1- 16, Jude identifies himself and quickly delves into the dilemma of false teachings. “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed” (vs. 4), heresy was obviously seeping into the region, disturbing the churches, and deceiving believers. He begins by illustrating similarities between false teachers and condemned individuals from the Old Testament citing Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

• Verses 17-25, Jude urges Christians to “remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (vs. 17). He was referring to all of the apostles and disciples in the past, which had warned about false teachers and prophets that were coming to deceive. His advice is to focus on Jesus Christ and to watch out for each other so that no one is misled into error.

• Those who place their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are secure in salvation, not by their own good deeds, because no one is good enough to do that, but believers are secure by the vicarious work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is only by, “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (vs. 24-25).

From the Apostle Jude, we must answer the question that we have asked throughout this series of blogs (What can we learn from him?). I think that there are several things. First, we learn from the man himself that we do not have to be well-known to know and preach the gospel. Second, we learn from the book some attribute to him that we must understand our faith and not be led astray by false teaching. In the end, the conclusion that we draw is that Jude teaches us to focus on Jesus. It’s the message that matters!

The first thing that we see from Jude is that he was a man that was passionate enough about the gospel to go be a missionary in Armenia. He was not the flashiest of the apostles. He is not the most popular of the apostles. He was just a guy who came to an understanding of what Jesus meant and what Jesus taught and took it to heart. He was a worker in the harvest. He did not gain wide acclaim as some of the other apostles. He just did the work of the kingdom. In that, we see what we can learn. Let us check our motives for our service to the gospel message. Are we doing this to get people to pat us on the back? Are we doing this so we can see how many followers we can gather? Or are we doing this to give glory to Jesus Christ? The message must be the most important thing. We must be willing to sacrifice our ego-driven needs for self-affirmation and make the message the thing! We must make Jesus Christ the star of the show not ourselves. When I think of Jude, I compare some of the more famous evangelists of our day today and those evangelists who lead their flocks in relative obscurity on the grand scale. My kind of rule of thumb on what the motives are is when you think of an evangelist today even on the local and regional level, do you see their face plastered all over their church’s or organization’s website or is it hard to tell who is evangelist is when you look at their website. To me, that leads the question, who is more humble. If an evangelist feels the need to have their face everywhere on their website and materials, who are we trying to promote here? Is it the evangelist or the message? At my church, there is no more tireless an evangelist than my senior pastor, Pastor Jeff Hickman. But nowhere will you see his face plastered all over our website or church materials. Jeff is a tireless worker in the field and the message is the thing with him. He has often told me that if it came down to it about the survival of LifeSong Church as the church that spreads the gospel in our community in a real and tangible way, he would walk away from it, if it meant the message would live on. We could say the same thing about Christian authors. If you are writing Christian books to make a name for yourself and so you will have a private jet and a big fine mansion for yourself and your family members, what is your message really about? We need workers who care about the message more than they care about their name. Jude shows us that even if thousands of years later people are not even sure who you were that is the message that matters not our fame. May we have more Judes in our midst in today’s world where Jesus is needed more than ever.

The final thing is that Jude understood the message and it pairs up with the relative anonymity of his life. He warns in his epistle against false teaching. Those who twist the gospel into something that it is not. He reminds us to keep the message clear about who we are as sinners in the eyes of God and what Jesus means to us. It is only through Jesus that we come blameless before the Lord. We cannot do enough good deeds to make the cut. We cannot be good enough. We are humbled by this fact. No matter how we try to be good Christians and live a certain way, we are all utter failures at it and we must rely totally on the grace that Jesus Christ gave us at the cross. False teachings will take it more than that. Somehow false teachings will twist the message into either following a person, doing certain deeds, and saying the right things, hanging with the right people. But it is all meaningless because we are fallen sinners. One sin does us in. And we are sinners to the core. Jude gets it. He expresses it in that we only have Jesus to rely on not ourselves. We are up the creek without a paddle without Jesus. His message is to keep our focus on Jesus as laypeople and as preachers. Anything different from that is heresy. We must keep our eyes on Jesus and his message. We must keep our eyes on the cross. The cross is what redeems us not our actions. The cross makes us clean. The cross gives us new life. In that, it humbles us. When we get that message and know our destiny outside of Jesus at the cross, we are laid low. We become humble. We are utterly thankful for the cross. We serve because of what Jesus did at the cross. We overflow with joy because of the cross. We carry the message of the cross out of the overflow. When we get it like Jude does, we do not care about our name in lights. We care about the message. We spread it. We defend it. We love it. We get it. It is the message that matters.

Amen and Amen.

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