[A reminder, beloved reader, that during the Sundays that immediately follow Easter passages from Acts are substituted for the Old Testament readings]
“In those days Peter stood up among the believers (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, “Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.” (Acts 1:15-17, )
The prologue of this story is this – Jesus had been taken up to heaven and the disciples were now needing to decide how to proceed. There was much work to be done, is Jesus’ commission to them was to be fulfilled. The losses of the past few weeks were heavy upon them, and it felt right and good to gather together a core group of workers who had intimate knowledge of Jesus and what he had done amongst them.
“So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.” (Verses 21-26)
Imagine, beloved reader, an arduous and dangers task must be performed. One of the group has suffered a fatal injury and a replacement is needed; would you step up and volunteer? This was not simply becoming a place holder in the listing of the disciples. The New Testament tells us that most, if not all, of the disciples were persecuted and suffered torture, and even death. Even those who were administrators in the Early Church worked hard with little reward. It was not an easy life; and there were great expectations of those who were disciples/apostles.
Several other things occur to me. I have to wonder what Matthias had that Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus did not. And what might have happened if the lots had gone the other way? There is not much more mention made of Matthias, nor Joseph/Barsabbas/Justus. Did they suffer as the other disciples did? Or did they live out the rest of their lives in obscurity?
These should be important questions to us, beloved reader, because the Holy Spirit has drawn lots and we may be called to be modern-day disciples or apostles. Are you ready? May the Lord who draws us into ministry be with us, upholding us and strengthening us. Selah!