How Christmas Continued, 26

WITH ALL MY HEART (Jn.14:22; Mt.10:3; Mk.3:18; Lk.6:16; Ac.1:13)

I was the disciple of the heart. Mine was not bigger than the hearts of the other disciples of Jesus; but, perhaps it was more sensitive and introspective. I went more by my feelings than I did by my thinking. For me, what Jesus did was more spiritual than rational. He did and taught things that only the heart could grasp. When Jesus talked to us how we could be a blessing, and when He mentioned that the pure in heart would see God, He must have me in mind. I did try very hard to remove all undesirable things from my thoughts. I could not think evil of others. I felt everyone was better than I was. Even when people would make mistakes, I believed they had a reason for it. If they sinned against me, I would forgive them the very moment they transgressed and not hold it against them. This was how Jesus felt and I identified with that attitude. It was His compassion and sensitivity that touched me most of all. And I believe that He felt the same way about me and chose me to be on His team. Jesus needed a follower that had a sensitive disposition for people that could not always be in charge of their lives, situations, and even of their thinking. Thoughts do not always guide our actions.

I did not arrive at this conclusion on my own, others did. My real name was Judas son of James, but my nicknames were “Thaddeus” or “Lebbaeus.” I, along with many others, was named after Judah, fourth son of Jacob and Leah and founder of the Jewish people. I, too, was a descendant of David and in that sense a second to the son of Joseph or Jesus. My name stood for praising God and being a blessing for my parents and others. Naturally, I tried to do my best and brought honor to my name. We Jews were sort of special to God and the proof lay in the fact that we still lived in the land of promise, while the other tribes had long ceased to exist. With Jesus, I too, believed in the revival and return to a kingdom that was at least similar to the one David was king over. Yes, I had much to live up to and when I met Jesus, I had much to live for. I, too, believed that Jesus had come to bring back the Praise of God. I was one of those that cheered Jesus when He entered Jerusalem as the “One” that was to come in the name of the Lord and as the “Son” of David.

My nicknames confirmed the convictions of my heart. They reflected what I actually was. Thaddaeus meant being “a breast nibble.” A breast nibble was close to the heart and intended to nourish babies. In a sense, we were all babies that depended on our mother’s breast. There were times, when I did feel like being a nursemaid. Strong men do, at times, need feeding and recharging. My second nickname “Lebbaeus -heart” suggests that I may have been such a person. In that sense, I was a small nipple drawing others to my Messiah. And, I did depend on Jesus and the others to perform efficiently. The other nickname was Lebbaeus and underscores my closeness to the group. Lebbaeus stems from a word that means heart. It may have been for that reason that I was dubbed the “breast nipple” or “the heart.” I was the kind of person the others could depend on and the one that had an open heart. They could confide in me and share their secrets as well. I played a parental role among the apostles. We went through many heart-breaking and disappointing events with and without Jesus. Even our own leaders; namely Peter, James and John Zebedee hit the bottom. Who, but I was left to comfort and sustain those of us that remained together? Most of the time, I did not say much; only, I would put my arm around a brother and drew him close to my heart. I was a man of praise and not of complaints. Our situation required comforting and encouraging. I was needed because I could feel and sympathize with my fellow disciples. I was not one who hung around to remind others, “I told you so.” I felt that every problem was solvable. I did recall that our Lord told us that our heart was where our treasure was. My treasure was my Lord and then my fellow apostles and that is where my heart was.

I was not a speechmaker or one that raised questions. Most of the things our Lord taught us were clear to me, except for one when Jesus told us that He would appear to us but not to the world. I was curious how this could be that He would show Himself to us but not to the world? My question led our Lord to clarify what He meant. Obviously, Jesus was not going to be with us in body, how else could He be with us? His presence could only remain real if we stored His Words and our memory of Him in our hearts. To help us grasp His mysterious presence; we were to receive the Counselor or the Holy Spirit. This Person or Presence was to come from the Father and from Him. His Spirit would remind us of what our Teacher taught us and help us obey His Commands by loving each other. He would bring us peace – the kind the world knows nothing of. Our relationship among us would be of such a nature that even the world would notice that we were followers of Jesus. It was the Love our Savior had for us that we too would practice among ourselves and that it would became the envy of the world. I was very pleased because my nicknames represented such love.

Jesus’ promise did come through. For a while, we did experience an amazing harmony among our ranks and those who joined us. Then the prince of this world intruded our fellowship and disrupted our union. We did not treat each other equally nor did we disperse as we were supposed to. We began to squabble as to who was getting and doing what. We ended up being more concerned with our physical needs than with the spreading of the message of Christ our Lord. We had yet to learn that His Presence was not restricted to a place, but was within us where ever we went. No one could remove us from His Hand, neither could we keep His love to ourselves. It was all because our Lord Messiah had take charge of our hearts and filled them with His love for the lost in this world. We soon learned that man cannot and will not change without handing over his heart to God!