January 3, 2011

Jude: "bond-servant" and "brother"

Since this is the first in a series of devotional scribblings through the book of Jude, it only makes sense that we’d begin with a thumbnail sketch of the author … and even more so because that’s where Jude himself (like all the other New Testament letter writers) begins to put ink to parchment … with a brief personal profile. He begins the letter by calling himself:

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James (Jude 1a)

As is characteristic of the letter as a whole, Jude packs quite a bit into a small space here in this first clause of his letter, doesn’t he? He tells us his name, his heritage, and his calling … all within the span of ten English words. And it’s quite interesting to notice what he says about himself.

Notice, first of all, that he called himself “a bond-servant of Jesus Christ” – a slave, in other words. Not exactly the designation that any of us would proudly have monogrammed on our personal stationary is it? It just doesn’t have the same ring as ‘Esquire’ or ‘PhD’ or even ‘executive assistant’! But Jude wasn’t evidently into important titles. He was happy to admit what he really was – a servant of the Savior with no rights of his own; no position of his own; no title of his own; and no initials behind his name. Just a slave of Jesus, that’s all.

And not only was Jude the “bond-servant of Jesus”, but also the "brother of James.” We’ll come back next week (Lord willing) and say more about the significance of Jude’s bloodlines. But, for now, suffice it to say that even this little bit of name-dropping (telling us that his brother was a famous pastor) was surely a sign of Jude’s humility. Some of us might begrudge being known as so-and-so’s little brother or sister. Many of us might not be content to always live in another’s shadows! It’s always easier to be Bette Midler than to be the poor soul about whom she sang: ‘It must have been cold there in my shadow’! But Jude was not ashamed to be known as James’s little bro. He did not have to set out and stake a claim to his own unique identity.

I’m challenged by that! Jude was a far greater man than me. His twenty-five verses of writing are worth ten thousand times more than all the millions of combined key-strokes I’ve hammered out on my Dell computer these ten years as a pastor. I’m less than nothing compared to this man named Jude. And yet I often find that I crave recognition. I like it when people know who I am, or think well of my position or education or accomplishments. But here I find one of the authors of the best-selling book of all time; the man chosen to put on paper the very words of God … simply calling himself a slave of Jesus, and someone else’s little brother … and being well-content with that! And, O, that you and I may be content with such titles as well! May we be content simply to ride Jesus’ coat-tails, to kiss His feet, to renounce our own claims and rights and personal glory, and to give all of it to Him!

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