This morning a crazy group of people (one of the guy's we simply call "Smoker"), restarted our "Tim Hortons and God" Bible study. We meet early (6:45am), after scrapping our car windows and chipping away at the crust over our eyes. I stop at Tim's and pick up a couple dozen donuts and set up the coffee… and then we all sit down for some deeply reflective time in God's Word.
Smoker asked if we could read the book of Jude. It's got some bizarre stuff in it, he said. So we all read through the 25 verses of Jude and agreed it would make a really interesting way to start Wednesdays. Jude talks about some things you won't read anywhere else in the Bible, like the angel Michael arguing with Satan over Moses' body. I don't know what to make of that!
Today we pulled out a commentary (by Douglas Moo)…
and focused on the first verse: "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ." (NIV)
No matter what is said in the next 24 verses, it was essential for us to understand this greeting. Here are some of the life-change things that we focused on:
1. Jude calls himself a servant, literally a "bond slave" – an indebted servant – of Jesus. In other words, Jude was in some kind of trouble, Jesus bailed him out, and now Jude considers himself everyday to be indebted to Jesus… in gratitude, not begrudgingly, but thankfully. What difference would it make to us if we considered ourselves "bond slaves" of Jesus?
2. Jude calls himself a brother of James. He could only really be referring to James, the leader of the early church in Jerusalem, the writer of the letter of James, and the brother of Jesus. That makes this Jude the brother of Jesus too (see Mark 6:3). We asked why James called himself a "bond slave" of Jesus, and not a brother of Jesus?
3. Jude writes this letter to people who are "called". We talked this morning about what it meant to be called… like called for military service or called for dinner. To not live according to the call is to reject our responsibility, our set apart-ness.
4. The "called" are "loved by God the Father" and "kept by Jesus Christ". With what Jude is about to talk about in his letter, these two aspects of being called are important. In fact, he frames the letter with these bookends. In verse 21 and in verse 24, Jude highlights the elements of God's love and Jesus' keeping again. So we asked, what difference does it make to be called but also loved and kept?