Seeking Increased Understanding
This article is part of Brother Jerry Valenti's series on the original 12 Apostles of Christ.
The Apostle who is the subject of this blog is Judas, the brother of James (Luke 6:16). He should not be confused with Judas Iscariot, even though he has the same name. In fact, it appears that the other gospel writers made sure there would be no confusion by referring to the same man as "Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus" (Matthew 10:3) or simply Thaddaeus (Mark 3:18).
Some people believe that this Judas was one of the brothers of Jesus since two of the Lord's half-brothers were named Judas and James (see Matthew 13:55). However, most believe that this was a different Judas since it would be somewhat odd for Luke to refer to the brother of Jesus as the brother of James.
Others believe that this Judas is the author of the Epistle of Jude. This could be true since Jude is a shortened form of Judas and that epistle begins, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James…" It would also fit in well with other epistles written by Apostles of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
The only time that we see this Apostle in action is at the Last Supper. Jesus is telling His Apostles that He will soon be departing from them, as He will be crucified the next day. He makes this statement: "Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me" (John 14:19). Judas has a question for Jesus:
"Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" (John 14:22)
First of all, note that John specifies that the question is asked by Judas, not Iscariot, to make it clear which Judas is speaking. The question is, "How is it possible that we'll be able to see you and the world won't be able to?" Jesus then explains about the Holy Ghost that will be sent to dwell within them such that they will be able to experience the presence of Christ even after He has departed (the same is available to mankind today, by the way).
After spending three years with Jesus, perhaps Judas should have already known about the Holy Ghost. However, rather than allowing potential embarrassment to get in the way, he goes ahead and asks the Lord to explain, and the result is that he gains increased understanding. And, since John includes the question and answer in his book, we all receive increased understanding.
Regardless of how solid of an understanding we may have regarding the things of God, there is always the opportunity to seek increased understanding. Studying the Word of God, being prayerful, and allowing the Holy Ghost that dwells within us to teach us are ways that we can seek increased understanding. Attending church meetings where the Word of God is discussed and having the opportunity to ask questions is another way of seeking increased understanding of the things of God.
As servants of God, in addition to seeking increased understanding of the scriptures, I believe we also need to seek increased understanding of each other.
When I was younger, I would meet people at a conference or a campout and perhaps form certain opinions about them based on that limited exposure. Then, sometime later, I would have the opportunity to spend quality time with them — perhaps in their home or mine — and would come away with a much greater appreciation and understanding of who they really are. You know what? The huge majority of our brothers and sisters in Christ are really good people who love the Lord and love The Church.
I would encourage us all to push back against the trends of society that are trying to separate us and get back to being able to appreciate each other as the family of God:
- Let's try to overcome our fear of Covid and get back to spending time together in person.
- Let's get back to identifying ourselves as members of The Church first and members of other groupings (political or otherwise) after that.
- Let's get back to using social media as a way of being social rather than a platform for espousing views that only serve to identify us as "one of us" or "one of them" — believe me, nobody is listening except for those who already agree with you (or those who love to argue) and it doesn't increase our understanding of each other but rather does the opposite.
Seeking increased understanding is always a good thing. Do we know everything there is to know about God? Of course not — there's always room to increase our understanding. Do we know everything there is to know about each other? Maybe we think we do as we characterize each other in various ways, but clearly we don't. Make the effort to seek an increased understanding of your brothers and sisters — in most cases, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how much you have in common as well as realizing a greater love for the people of God.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.