“Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share. I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”
Jude 3 (NRSV)
It’s interesting that the worst storm in decades to thunder across and create havoc here in the UK was named St. Jude. The thinking behind this is that Jude is looked upon as the patron saint of the hopeless and the despairing, that he comes alongside those who have, for some reason, reached the end of their tether.
Five years before he dies, Jude wrote a short letter to the persecuted Christians, which begins “This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James. I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father, who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1 NLT).
So, who was this individual? Most scholars identify him as “the half brother of Jesus.” A link of Jude with James provides the best clue to his identity. After the death of James the son of Zebedee under Herod Agrippa 1 (c. AD 44), notice in Acts 12:1-2, “About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword.” After his death, the only other James who is well known in the early church was James of Jerusalem. Paul called him “James the Lord’s brother” in Galatians 1:19. Apparently, he later he became known as “James the Just,” the leader of the Jerusalem church. Paul tells us that during a visit to Jerusalem to see Peter “Of the other apostles I saw none but James, the brother of the Lord” (Galatians 1:19 Williams).
Jesus did, of course, have brothers and sisters—there is a section in Matthews gospel (13:55-56) where Jesus goes to his home town of Nazareth to teach, and the people say, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us?” (Jude is the English form of the Greek Judas!) Unfortunately, we are not told what his sisters were called—that would be interesting to know, wouldn’t it?
The thrust of Jude’s message is this: Stay faithful, hang on to the gospel we have been entrusted with, stand up in the storm! Now let’s notice the encouraging words that he ends his short letter with in verses 24-25, and use them for our closing prayer today:
“Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever.”
Study by Cliff Neill
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
LUTON LU1 5JE
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