The Same Name!
James Smith, 1858
Two of our Lord's disciples were of the same name. Judas, the brother of James, generally called Jude; and Judas Iscariot. The name is the same as Judah, which signifies, "the praise of the Lord." When Judah, the son of Jacob, was born, his glad mother said, "Now I will praise the Lord, and she called his name Judah." Every mother's son should be a Judah, and so live, so walk, so speak, as to be to the praise of the Lord.
Perhaps the mothers of both the disciples, did, out of the fullness of a thankful heart, name their sons Judas. But how different were they in their course and end. Both became disciples of Jesus; both received a commission to preach the Gospel, cast out devils, and work wondrous miracles; both attended the Savior's ministry for a considerable time; and both were alike treated with kindness and confidence. Yet, how greatly they differed from each other.
They differed in their NATURES. One was, notwithstanding all his privileges, wholly carnal; the other was spiritual. The one was only born after the flesh, and was therefore flesh; the other was born after the spirit, and was therefore spiritual. In one, the affections were wholly set on earthly things; in the other the affections were set on spiritual things. In the one the will was wholly under a carnal bias; and in the other it was influenced by a divine and holy principle. In the one the understanding was dark, yes, darkness; in the other, God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, had shone into the heart. In the one the conscience was benumbed and hardened; in the other it was tender and sensitive. O the difference between the natural, and the spiritual man! They may both have the same outward privileges, make the same profession, go on for a while very much in the same way; but when the hour of temptation comes — then the genuine Christian is discovered, and the mere professor is detected.
The two disciples were of the same name, in the same society, and filled the same office — but they walked by a different RULE. To the one the example of Jesus was his rule; to the other, his own depraved and covetous nature.
They aimed at a different END. The one sought to commend himself to Jesus, and to honor his dear name; the other only sought to gratify his own lusts, and amass earthly riches.
They were going to a different PLACE. The one was going to be with Jesus in his Father's house, and to share in the honors of his kingdom; the other was going "to his own place," to have his portion with hypocrites and unbelievers. The one is now in the heights of Heaven; the other in the depths of Hell. The one is enjoying the most exquisite pleasures, and wearing the highest honors; the other is experiencing the gnawings of a guilty conscience, the horrors of black despair, and all that is represented by weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and is clothed with shame, and treated with utter contempt, even by devils and damned spirits!
Dear friends, let us beware of resting in a name. Many are called Christians — who have not Christ formed in them. Many pass for disciples now — who will not stand the test of the final judgement. Many say, Lord, Lord, who do not keep the Lord's word, or copy his example.
There are both Judes and Judas' in the Lord's church. The wheat and the tares now grow together; but when the harvest comes — then comes the separation. Head work may do for a time — but only heart work will do in the long run. A name may pass among men — but without a new nature, we shall never be admitted to dwell with God. The form of godliness, may suffice for time — but the power will be necessary in eternity.
Let us also take heed and beware of covetousness, for the love of money is the root of all evil. Jude loved his master — but Judas had the money-bag, and loved what was put therein. Covetousness blinded him to the Savior, beauty hardened him under the Savior's ministry, and made him a traitor at the end of his Savior's public life.
O the power of covetousness — how many have been deceived and received by it! Well may the Apostle say that it is "idolatry," for it divorces the heart from God, and fixes it upon filthy lucre; it separates from God, and unites to Mammon. This may be one reason why God keeps his people poor, and often strips them of their gold and silver feathers.
Should we not also admire the sovereignty of Divine grace, here are two men of the game nation, in the same church, of the same name — but one is taken and the other left. The one shines forth like a sun in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father; while the other like a fallen star, sinks into eternal darkness and gloom. Surely, Judas the traitor must eternally take all the blame of his damnation on himself, saying, "I resisted the strivings of the Spirit — I rejected the inviting word — I preferred gold to grace — I sold my Master for thirty pieces of silver — I rushed unbidden into the presence of my Maker — I am both as it respects soul and body a suicide! Here I am in Hell, and that justly, for I am only receiving the due reward of my deeds. God is just, though I am damned! As dreadful as is my eternal doom — I deserve it all."
Something like this, will also be the reflection of every soul, who dies in unbelief, and perishes under the sound of the everlasting gospel. Beware, O beware of the sin of Judas, lest you perish as Judas did, and have to blame yourself forever! And now, my soul, in closing, let me ask the question in all seriousness, and as before an all-seeing, heart-searching God:
Which am I, Jude — or Judas?
Which do I love, gold — or Jesus?
Whom do I serve, God — or Mammon?
Which do I prefer, the world's crown — or the Savior's cross?
Is the Spirit of Christ in me?
Does the love of Christ constrain me to live a holy life?
In a word, is Christ precious to me, and do I live to advance his kingdom, glorify his name, and do his will? If so, I cannot be the traitor — but must be of the same happy family as Jude the brother of James.