14 May 2018Acts 1:15-26
“And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.” (v. 26)
Psalm: Psalm 15
New apostle required – apply within!
Today’s passage may seem like a cross between a church prayer meeting and waiting to be picked for games at school, but it marks a significant moment at the beginning of the book of Acts.
Judas is dead, and a successor needs to be appointed. His death is described in gruesome detail (verses 18-19) as if to emphasise its importance – the Scripture really HAS been fulfilled.
But now, the task is clear. Another apostle is needed to restore balance and order – the implication suggested by some theologians is that the 12 apostles symbolically represent the 12 tribes of Israel, so their number needs to be sustained, providing a link with the Israel ‘before Jesus’ and this new grouping about to emerge. We know that they are on the brink of experiencing Pentecost, but all they know is that they have been told by Jesus to stay in Jerusalem and wait.
Two men are up for the post – Joseph (called Barsabbas, also known as Justus) and Matthias. The process of choosing who becomes an apostle was a prayerful one but also included the casting of lots, which was common practice but very different from the voting system we use today. Objects such as stones or sticks were often cast from a jug or onto the ground, a bit like rolling a dice. And so Matthias is chosen.
One of the important requirements of this appointment was that the man chosen should be a fellow eyewitness – a person who has been there since the start, someone who has experienced Jesus’ ministry from Baptism to Ascension; and most importantly, someone who has met him after the Resurrection.
The chosen person had to be able to speak personally of their experience of Jesus – which will prove so important in the days, months and years to come.
- We cannot claim to have been at Jesus’ side during his life and ministry, but what ‘eyewitness’ stories of faith can we share today?
- It is Christian Aid Week. What ‘eyewitness’ stories of need and hope that we engage with this week? Go to www.christianaid.org.uk to find some.