Jude identifies himself as a servant of Jesus and the brother of James. Before we go any further, who is Jude? Because he was a Jew, first we will look at the Hebrew version of his name which is Yĕhuwdah, the proper name Judah. In Greek, it is Ioudas, which has been translated for Judah, Juda, Judas, and Jude. Jude is only used one time, here in the opening of Jude. In Matthew 13, Jesus returns home and is teaching to the people in Nazareth. The people start talking among themselves about who Jesus is. They were saying that they know Him, grew up with Him, know his family which included James the author of the book of James and Judas which is Jude.
So, why would Jude not want to say that he is the brother of Jesus? In John chapter 7, Jesus’ brothers were tired of what they thought was of Him making a disgrace out of the family and His teaching so they told Him to leave to paraphrase verses 3 and 4 nicely. However, verse 5 is why Jesus can understand our family problems. To have His own brothers not believe in Him had to have hurt. Yet, after His death and resurrection, something happened. In Acts 1, after Jesus ascended we see those in the upper room included the disciples, the women that followed Him and in verse 14 that His mother and brothers were there. They were all devoted to each other, of one mind, and praying. Something happened to His brothers’ hearts in that now they were in with their brother’s disciples, the same people that they told Him to go away with.
Both, James and Jude open their letters identifying themselves as servants of Jesus. Not just any servant but a bondservant, this is by their choice they have chosen to be called a servant instead of brother. Even though in John 15:15, Jesus said that we are not servants but friends, His brothers saw themselves as His servants.
A couple of things, Jude learned from his Brother, was mercy, peace, and love. These were so essential to life that he wanted the readers of his letter, the church, to receive in their lives. Not just a little but he wanted it to grow/multiply throughout their lives. Think of it as the reaction that happens with vinegar and baking soda, if you put a little bit a baking soda in vinegar it will bubble up but increase the amount of baking soda and it will bubble over the glass. That is what Jude is wanting our lives to be like where we are running over with God’s mercy, peace and love.
So who are you in Jesus; friend, bystander, or a servant by choice?