St. Simon and St. Jude, Apostles
Dear friends in Christ. Today the Church remembers two of our Lord’s lesser known disciples—St. Simon and St. Jude. Why we remember these two together on the same day is not really clear. Perhaps it’s because they are right next to each other in St. Luke’s listing of the apostles; or, perhaps it’s because of the tradition that says both of them labored together in Persia and were martyred there on the same day.
St. Simon is called the “Canaanite,” perhaps because he was from Cana; and he is also called “Zealot.” The zealots were a Jewish group who believed that the promise of the Messiah meant a free and independent Jewish nation where they would never again have to be subject to Rome. Some Zealots were also very concerned in keeping the spiritual ideals of their religion; but others in the group acted more like modern day terrorists by raiding, killing and inciting riots. As “Simon” was a very common name, to distinguish him from “Simon Peter” he was probably called “the Zealot,” a reference to his past association with that group.
St. Jude, or Judas, has that wonderful title in our text—“not Judas Iscariot”—to distinguish him from the betrayer of our Lord, again, as Jude/Judas was a very common name. This Jude also had other names he went by, namely, Lebbaeus or Thaddeus, which mean “the hearty or beloved one,” as these names appear in the same spot in the lists of the Apostles when the name “Jude” is missing.
In both cases the Holy Spirit used both of these men to bring the life-saving Gospel of Jesus into all the world and establish the Church.
Our text this morning contains the one quote of St. Jude the Holy Spirit saw fit to record in Scripture: Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?" As we examine our text this morning we will see Jesus’ answer to Jude’s question and what it means for us today.
- Jesus is with His disciples in the upper room on that first Maundy Thursday. After instituting the Blessed Sacrament of His body and blood Jesus pours out His heart to His disciples to comfort and strengthen them in their present sorrow in His departure and also in their upcoming tribulations that would come upon them. Right before our text Jesus gives the disciples the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit and that He will live in their hearts—and the hearts of all Christians; that’s Christ setting up/ establishing His Church, His Kingdom as a Spiritual kingdom. Then Jesus says: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." With these words Jesus describes His Church, His kingdom, as a spiritual kingdom. Then in response comes Jude’s only recorded words in Scripture: Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, "Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world?"
When Jesus speaks of His Church to His disciples in this way as a spiritual kingdom, they realize that there is no hope of an earthly kingdom of the Messiah like so many, like the Zealots in particular, were hoping and working towards. Jude’s question: Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world? brings that out—since Jesus is the Messiah, how can He show and reveal Himself to the disciples as the Savior and Messiah but not to the world, to the unbelieving? Aren’t kings and kingdoms supposed to be visible? The light is beginning to dawn on the disciples, like Jude, as he speaks for them. He in effect is recognizes that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah but His kingdom will be different. And He tries to piece it together to understand it—Jesus is the Messiah and will establish His kingdom; we will be part of it; but not everyone will be because not everyone will recognize Him; so how can there be a king and kingdom if not everyone can see and recognize it?
Jesus’ words in our text, as an answer to Jude’s question, tell us of God’s spiritual coming to us in His word and Sacraments, revealing Himself to us as to who He is, and setting up His dwelling and reign in our hearts.
The disciples, like Simon and Jude, saw Jesus bodily, spoke with and touched Him; but we cannot see Jesus’ coming to us in His word. But come to us in His word, Jesus does! He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. Only the one who receives Jesus in faith as He comes to us in His word is the one who is a Christian, is one who is part of Christ’s kingdom, the Church. This true faith is shown by love and obedience—keeping and guarding the commands and words of Jesus. Again Jesus here says: He who does not love Me does not keep My words.
Our text: And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. When Jesus comes to us in His word and reveals Himself to us, it’s His grace to us. We don’t earn or deserve it. Instead, as sinners we deserve no part of Christ’s kingdom, the Church and the heavenly and spiritual blessings He wants to give us in it. As sinners, we deserve nothing but God’s wrath and condemnation, as we by nature—as we came into this world and would have remained so except by God showing us His grace—are part of the devil’s kingdom of sin, death and damnation. But in grace, Christ came to us in His word and revealed Himself to us and brought us into His kingdom, the Church.
In response to Jude’s question: Lord, how is it that You will manifest Yourself to us, and not to the world? Jesus could not reveal Himself to the unbelieving world because Jesus reveals Himself, comes to us spiritually, in His means of grace—the word and sacraments. If the unbelieving person rejects the word, how can Jesus come to him? The very means of His coming to us is rejected! If the person rejects Jesus as He reveals Himself to him/her in the word, how can Jesus reveal Himself and bring someone into His holy kingdom, the Church?
The unbelieving world wants neither Christ nor His word. It wants to hear nothing of the holy Law of God by which the Holy Spirit shows us and convinces us of our sin; shows us our corruption, damnation and need of a Savior. The unbelieving world rejects the Holy Spirit’s work in the Law that prepares us for Jesus revealing Himself to us; and so, Jesus cannot reveal Himself to them. Jesus wants to come to all and reveal Himself to all in His word and sacrament; but where that word is rejected, the only means of Jesus’ revelation to us is also rejected.
But, dear Christian, let us rejoice. In grace, the Holy Spirit has come to us in the word of God’s holy Law and shown and convinced us of our sin and our damnable condition; He has shown us how our sins have earned us only God’s wrath and damnation and have separated us from Him. But now, in grace, Christ has come to us in His gospel word and sacrament and revealed Himself to us as our Savior from that sin and damnation. Longing for a Savior from sin and death, the Holy Spirit has worked that faith in us that recognizes that Jesus is our Savior from sin; that He is our righteousness; that He paid the penalty for our sin. Jesus revealed Himself to us in the word and in Spirit-worked faith, we say yea and amen to our King.
From Jesus revealing to us that He is the God-man—true God who became also true man to be our Savior, we come to know God’s love for us; when Jesus in the word reveals His holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death, we come to recognize how great and damnable our sins are so we earnestly repent of them; when Jesus reveals to us that He brought us eternal life, we then eagerly long for heaven. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. As we guard and make use of the word by which Christ comes to us and reveals Himself to us, our hearts will all the more be full of the knowledge and love of our Savior and the glorious certainty of His presence.
- Jesus then in our text describes us, His dear Christians: If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. Christ’s kingdom, the Church, is an invisible kingdom because faith in Christ, which is invisible, is what makes us a part of it; unless one can see what is truly in the heart—and only God can—one cannot outwardly tell who is truly a part of Christ’s kingdom; but our Lord’s dear Christian, the member of Christ’s kingdom, has the blessing of that kingdom: the indwelling of the holy Triune God. Dwelling within us is the holy Triune God; through faith we are united with Him; the word is the only way that God and man can come together. Where there is that word through which Jesus reveals Himself, there is the Holy Spirit working faith; where He works faith, there is also love of that word and of Christ who reveals Himself to us in that word; and faith receives the gifts and blessings God gives us in the word, the very blessings Jesus won for us by His life, suffering and death.
Now that in Christ we are forgiven our sins and declared righteous by God, the holy Triune God dwells within us with all of His gifts and blessings. If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
It was a true comfort to the disciples to hear what Jesus next said—and it is also a comfort to us: Furthermore, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Jesus was telling them that even though He would leave them bodily with His ascension, He would not forsake them. He would visibly pour out His Holy Spirit on them and equip them for the work He was calling them to do. As they would carry out their office as apostles to spread the Kingdom, Christ’s NT Church, He would see to it that what they would preach and teach and write would be complete—all that we need to know for our salvation—and without error.
Just as they were greatly comforted in this, so too are we for here is the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture. Christ, by His Holy Spirit, so moved the holy writers to write the exact words that He wanted them to write so that the Bible is complete and without any error. Now, through that very word He caused them to remember and write perfectly, Jesus is teaching us today and revealing Himself to us today in the word of holy Scripture. All that we need to know and believe for our salvation is there. All the comfort we need in our various trials and hardships is there. We can be absolutely certain of the word of Scripture, for it written by the holy prophets and apostles by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He entrusted it to the Church to preach to the world to the joy and edifying of Christ’s people.
The great practical result of Christ coming and revealing Himself to us in His word is that now we who love Him and His word and guard His word, taking it to heart, and have the holy Triune God dwelling in our hearts is that glorious peace that He gives us. Peace I leave with you, My very own peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. We have an eternal, heavenly peace; our hearts are not torn this way and that way. Christ revealed Himself to us; God is with us; we are assured of His grace and mercy no matter what our trials.
In response to St. Jude’s question: Christ’s kingdom, His Church, is a spiritual kingdom, not marked by His outward coming; it doesn’t have a political, earthly goal, rather a heavenly one as He invisibly comes to us in His Word and reveals Himself and gives us every spiritual and heavenly blessing. INJ Amen