14 May 2012

Acts 1:15-26

"O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill? Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart." (Psalm 15, vv. 1-2)


When something really nasty and awful happens to human beings there is often a strong possibility that they may never properly recover from the experience. Judas' betrayal that led to the death of Jesus is an example for us of such dreadful behaviour. Very little was reported for us about how the disciples felt and coped until we read this passage in Acts.

The writer of Acts records for us what happened to Judas Iscariot succinctly so that we have enough information to deal with some unanswered questions we may have.

But the main text tells the story of how the remaining eleven disciples regrouped and moved on, filling the hole left by Judas.

Twelve is a recurring, holistic number throughout the biblical narratives; the twelve tribes of Israel as well as the twelve disciples which Christ chose. Prayer and the drawing of lots as a means of discerning God's will may look like a strange combination of divine guidance and small time gambling, but in fact it was a process that was used by Zachariah and others to see who would go into the holiest of holies in the temple - Matthias was appointed to join them. And maybe filling that hole made them feel just a bit better. If it did, they had embarked on the road to recovery.

It was a recovery that was soon to be showered with the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost that brings them freedom to be who they each were, "pastors from thence and teachers rise" as verse 2 of the hymn The Saviour, when to heaven he rose describes.

Whilst feeling separate from Christ, still deeply mourning his loss, and still perturbed by the actions of Judas, the disciples have brought themselves through prayer and intentional thinking, to a place where they would feel reunited and begin again to lead blameless lives doing what is right in God's eyes. Today's psalm (Psalm 15) describes those qualities that contribute to a good life.

To Ponder

Without the coming together and regrouping would the disciples have recovered? Why?

When you have been hurt, to what extent does this story offer you something which will aid your recovery?

Looking at the behaviour patterns in this passage, reflect on what you can take from the story that you can use to help others.


Bible notes author

Margaret Sawyer

Margaret Sawyer has worked for the Methodist Connexional Team for ten years, first as connexional secretary for Women's Network and then as the Church's equality and diversity officer. She now works to support preaching and worship in her local circuit and district.