Lord, ministerially I want only what You have for me.
Read ACTS 1:12–26
Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk[a] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,[b] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“‘May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,’[c]
“‘May another take his place of leadership.’[d]
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see’ (Heb 11:1).
Do you receive many round-robin letters during Christmas season? Most focus on achievements and success. Rarely do you read about people failing exams or being unsuccessful in getting a job. I wonder what a round-robin from Barsabas would have included. Would he have mentioned he had not been selected to be an apostle?
Barsabas plays a role in a passage that is about God’s plans being accomplished, despite all appearances. Judas was chosen by Jesus – but he betrayed Him. Peter reassures his listeners that Judas’ actions are foretold in Scripture and need to happen. Similarly, Peter says the Scriptures show that someone must replace Judas. It is symbolically important that there are twelve apostles: there were twelve tribes of Israel and having the same number of apostles shows them to be the new leaders of God’s people (Luke Johnson, Acts of the Apostles, The Liturgical Press, 1992, p38).
It may seem strange to make a decision by lot, but the choice of Matthias was clearly God’s will. There is no suggestion, though, that Barsabas was a poor candidate. He fulfilled all the requirements: he has been with Christ from the start of His ministry and has witnessed His resurrection (21,22). It simply seems that Matthias is more suitable. The Bible is very matter-of-fact about the selection and tells us nothing about Barsabas’ feelings and how he copes afterwards, but we all know rejection is never easy. It can be hard to trust that closed doors are signs of God’s love and difficult to see others steam ahead when we are unsure what God’s plans are for us. The passage does encourage us, though, that God is at work even when it doesn’t seem that way, as was the case in Judas’ betrayal. Learning to trust through uncertainty and disappointment deepens our faith and refines our character – and that is real success in God’s eyes.
Are you struggling with disappointment or finding it hard to trust God with your future? Bring those feelings to God.
Lord, we trust and defer to our leaders, believing that You have set them in their place of authority.
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