Summary: Along our journey of life, God gives us signs and warnings through people, circumstances and events. God gives us the warning in Jude because He loves us and wants the best for us.
“Heeding the Warnings”
It was 1 am in the morning and I had just finished my last day of work before I headed to Dallas to enroll in seminary. I stopped by Giovanna’s apartment to say goodbye and then got on the road. I had scrimped and saved all semester to have enough money to get a place to live and start the next leg of my education and God’s call on my life. I got on the road with $565 of tips. I turned off I-10 past Baton Rouge onto Highway 71 (this was before I-49 opened.) Around 4:30 AM, I came to a small town with the speed limit dropping. I took my foot off the break allowing the car to slow down in time for the 45 mph speed limit. As I passed the sign, I saw lights turn on in my rear view mirror. Long story short, when I pulled away, I was $150 lighter in the pocket. Before I did, he told me to go the speed limit in all of the small towns in LA. Just south of Shreveport, I was on a two lane road and the cars ahead me were doing 10 miles over the speed limit so I followed them. A few miles later, I saw a sheriff’s car coming the other way and he u-turned and pulled me over. He asked me where I was going and I told him SMU in Dallas to enroll in seminary. Because of that, he said he was going to give me a break and as I pulled away, I was only $75 lighter in the pocket. So when I arrived in Dallas, the fines plus the gas gave me less than $300 to get a place to live, go grocery shopping and pay for summer school. There had been signs all along warning me that something bad was going to happen if I didn’t change. If only I had listened to the signs!
That’s what God does with us. Along our journey of life, God gives us signs and warnings through people, circumstances and events. God doesn’t want to bum us out or spoil our fun but wake us up to the reality that this road doesn’t lead where you think it does. The prophet Ezekiel was called to warn God’s people that judgment was coming. God tells Ezekiel that his job as a prophet is like that of the watchman, who sits in the tower and blows a trumpet when he sees an invading army coming and impending doom. In other words, there’s a lot on the line and we need to listen. “He who takes warning will save his life.” (Ez 33:2-5) The book of Jude is like Ezekiel’s trumpet warning us to be wise in our choices because great consequences are at stake.
We’re in a series called “Postcards” where we’re looking at the 5 smallest books of the Bible and gaining the wisdom found in them. Each has one big theme and Jude’s is warning believers to be wise. Jude is so important for us because we warn those we love. You teach your kids to look both ways before crossing the street because you love them. We warn our friends who are about to make a poor financial decision because we care about them. God gives us the warning in Jude because He loves us and wants the best for us. That’s why Jude is so powerful.
Jude begins his notecard with these words: “I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James…” There are two things we learn. First, Jude is the brother of James, and also the brother of Jesus. They had the same mom, but Jude’s dad was Joseph and Jesus’ was God. When Jesus taught in the Nazareth synagogue, those who heard him were astonished and said, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?” Matthew 6:3 Yes, Jesus had siblings. Now can you imagine growing up with Jesus as your bother? Like when Mary would say to Jude, “Why can’t you be more like your brother Jesus?” “Mom, it’s not like He’s perfect!” Mary says, “Oh yes he is!” Talk about having it tough when growing up! What I want you to notice is that Jude doesn’t tout his relationship to Jesus. There is great humility there.
The second thing that we learn about Jude, is that he’s “a slave to Christ.” Paul and Jude uses this image because it was such a common sight in the Roman Empire. Upwards of 50% of Italy were slaves. Urban slaves in the Roman Empire was very different from antebellum slavery. They were teaches, bookkeepers, doctors, cooks and accountants. Many were entrepreneurs and even encouraged to start their own business. Slaves lived with the family in their homes and were treated like family. They were even paid a stipend and encouraged to save up to buy their freedom and become Roman citizens. Many chose not to because they were treated so well by their masters and had the Master’s protection. So Jude uses this image to describe his relationship to Christ, not as a brother but a slave.