There’s a disciple we don’t talk about much. The Gospel authors didn’t talk about him much either, so I guess we can be excused. Matthew and Mark call him Thaddaeus. Luke and John call him “Judas son of James”* or “Judas (not Judas Iscariot).” Yes, with the parentheses (Luke 6:16 and John 14:22, respectively). In other words, the other Judas.
It was such a common name; in fact, Jesus had a brother named Judas (Mark 6:3). Thaddaeus sounds like a Greek name to me,** so I’m guessing Matthew and Mark used this name (or nickname) to avoid the need for further definition. Matthew was obviously comfortable with alternate names since he’s also called Levi.
I would hate to be that other Judas.
On top of the confusion with his name, we only have one documented interaction between him and Jesus, and it doesn’t make our Judas/Thaddaeus look so good.
Jesus was just getting started on what we call The Upper Room Discourse (John 14-17). First Thomas asked him a question (John 14:5). Then Philip asked a question (John 14:8). Just two paragraphs later, Judas/Thaddaeus pipes in. Honestly, it sounds like a question Peter would ask. It’s easy to imagine Peter was still smarting from Jesus’ prediction of his denial (John 13:31-38) and didn’t want to draw any more attention to himself. Maybe Peter whispered in his ear and prodded him into speaking up. All we know for sure is that Judas/Thaddaeus says,
But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? –John 14:22
The disciples wanted Jesus to
rise up and save his people
from Roman oppression.
The prevailing idea of the Messiah involved a big white horse and political upheaval—a reestablishment of the Jewish state, out from under Roman oppression. Despite three years of constant companionship, Judas/Thaddaeus wasn’t the only disciple who still thought this way. They wanted Jesus to rise up and save His people.
They couldn’t see the big picture.
Jesus could have been the Jewish Messiah. He could have drawn militant followers and led an uprising to defeat the Roman Empire. I’ve no doubt he could have done that. But then he would have been a Messiah only for the Jews.
God was thinking big picture. As in, all eternity and all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
Look how Jesus answers Judas/Thaddaeus.
Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. –John 14:23
This is how He planned to show Himself to the world.
Love is more powerful, more
enduring, more “big picture”
than all the big white horses
in the world.
It’s not about the world seeing Him immediately in all His splendor and power. It’s about us seeing Him (usually through someone else’s love) in a way that leads to faith. Then, through our obedience, we show Him to the world around us. We love Him, and He loves us. Somehow, that’s more powerful, more enduring, more “big picture” than all the big white horses in the world.
Jesus the Messiah endures because He leads from the inside.
Jesus the Messiah endures because love and obedience fit into every political system and culture.
Jesus the Messiah endures because His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).
No one sees the big
picture like God does.
Sometimes we, too, ask God the wrong question. We ask, “Why not do it this way?” Usually, that means we aren’t thinking “big picture.” No one sees the big picture like God does. (I’m reminded of Mary and Martha telling Jesus, “If only you had been here…” [John 11:21, 32].)
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. –Isaiah 55:8
It’s easy to drift into a myopic perspective on God, salvation, and deliverance. How has God broadened your understanding of His plan? Maybe it’s a verse or an experience or something you read. Regardless, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!
*I got “Jameson” from Luke’s “son of James.”
**It might also be the Aramaic form of Theodore, which is a Greek name. (https://www.behindthename.com/name/thaddeus)