The Disciples: Jude, who had many faces

The eleventh name on the list of disciples is Judas. Also known as Jude, Thaddeus, and Lebbaeus. Jude was the son of Alpheus or Cleophas and Mary and was a brother of James the Younger. He too came from Galilee. Jude lived in relative obscurity to the other Twelve disciples. Jerome called Jude Trinomious which means “a man with three names.” In Mark 3:18 he is called Thaddeus. In Matthew 10:3 he is called Lebbaeus. His surname was Thaddeus. In Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 he is called Judas the brother of James. Judas Thaddeus also was called Judas the Zealot.

By character, he was an intense and violent Nationalist with the dream of world power and domination by the Chosen People. The New Testament in John 14:22 records him asking Jesus at the Last Supper, But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? Judas Thaddeus was interested in making Christ known to the world. Not as a suffering Saviour, however, but as ruling King. We can see plainly from the answer Jesus gave him, that the way of power can never be substituted for the way of love. Jesus replied, “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. 24 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. 25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:23-27) Many scholars believe it was the last question Jesus answered before he began his prayer vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest.

It is said that Jude, a few years after Pentecost went North to preach the gospel in Edessa near the Euphrates River. There he healed many in the name of the Master and it is said he healed the King of Edessa, Abgar, the 28-year-old king of a small, prosperous domain located some 400 miles from Jerusalem. Shortly before Jesus’ arrest, the young king wrote to Jesus asking to be cured of a painful disease. Though Abgar never met Jesus, he accepted him as the Savior and warned that in Jerusalem there were plots against Jesus’ life. Abgar offered his own kingdom as sanctuary. Although Jesus graciously declined the invitation, Abgar was promised that an apostle would be sent to cure him. After the Ascension, Thaddaeus was chosen to travel to Oseoene. He healed the king and many others as well. The legend ends with the grateful Abgar offering Jude a large sum of gold and silver. But Jude refused, saying, “If we have forsaken that which is our own, how shall we take that which is another’s? Eusebius the historian said the archives at Edessa contained the visit of Judas and the healing of Abgar (the records have now been destroyed).

Tradition says from there he preached the Gospel with Simon in Assyria and Persia and later both died as martyrs, clubbed to death at Ararat in Persia in 65AD. Sometime after his death, Saint Jude’s body was brought from Beirut to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter’s Basilica. Now his bones are in the left transept under the main altar of St. Joseph, in one tomb with the remains of the apostle Simon the Zealot.

There is great debate whether or not he is the author, Jude. Most Catholic theologians believe he is. while historically most protestant believe not. The contents of Jude would fit well with what we do know of his character, reminding us that the Christian life is a battleground. There are times for peaceful words of encouragement and times for sharp words of rebuke. He like Simon wants undivided loyalty to Jesus Christ, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires’. These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. (Jude vs18,19

A ship with a cross on the sails symbolizes heroic Jude on missionary expeditions accompanied by his friend Simon. Jude is sometimes known as Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus.

PRAYER: Lord God, thank you for the lives of all the disciples and how they went on to serve you, preaching your word, healing lives and radically living, and even dying for you. Although we don’t hear much about Jude, we can learn from His devotion to you, that you have all sorts of plans for those who are willing to call you Lord. Lord, wherever I am in my life may I be open to your leading, always seeking the plans you have for me as I serve you. In Jesus Name, AMEN

SONG: Healing is in Your Hands by Christy Nockels –

(Written by Ange van der Leeuw)